Tossing the Fat Pants

Tossing the Fat Pants

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Shows like “The Biggest Loser” always include this shot: the person who has lost 100+ pounds holds up his old pants to his skinnier self to demonstrate just how much weight he has lost. This standard segment clearly and dramatically demonstrates the immense change the person has undergone. We can safely guess that this person is no longer wearing these pants, that he has moved on to trimmer, fitter clothing to suit his lighter self.

If you compared minimizing your stuff to dramatic weight loss (which it truly is, no diet required!), I am guilty of holding on to those fat pants, of hoarding the large containers that are no longer needed to contain my bulk of stuff. Let me explain.

I recently posted about toys in my living room, explaining that most of them are contained within this toy organizer:

I never considered tossing this toy organizer. After all, it served its purpose – housing toys. But a recent, rather embarrassing, experience taught me that it was time to let go.

My boys are deep into the dump truck stage, and they love nothing more than hauling, dumping, and crashing piles of toys around the house. Thus, this toy organizer was completely emptied of its contents several times a day. As all moms know, there are only so many times you can pick up every single toy in the house before you want to scream. My rather embarrassing breaking point came one day, when Orlando had yet again emptied every toy onto the floor. I told him to pick them up, and when I returned to check his progress several minutes later, he was happily zooming trucks through the chaos. I grabbed him by the shoulders and, in a fit of regrettable mommy frustration, shouted, “I hate this mess!” His little eyes filled with tears as he looked back at me. “You hate me!” he blubbered, as my heart piled on several pounds of mom guilt that I will assuage with therapy at a later date. Yeah… I needed a new tactic for toy organization… (and maybe some Xanax).

Reflection on this incident revealed a few truths:

1) My boys developmentally need to haul, crash, and dump things. If they have access to items with which to do so (such as, let’s say, an all-access colorful bin full of toys) they will use it for that purpose.

2) I had minimized the number of toys in the house already, making the large toy shelf no longer necessary. I didn’t even have all the bins in the shelf, and the bins I had were not full. The shelf was the new minimalists’ equivalent of a skinny person’s former fat pants! My stuff had shrunk and it was time to outfit myself with a trimmer means of storing toys.

Enter these small clear plastic bins:

Even I was amazed that all the toys from the big shelf fit into three small bins. (I put the books in separate basket on the floor.) What I love about these bins:

1) They are clear, so the kids can see what is inside.
2) The lids are attached, so my kids can easily open and close them without adult help.
3) There are THREE bins for THREE kids. Each kid gets a bin and is responsible for its contents. You get it out, you put it back, in YOUR bin.
4) All three bins easily fit in here:

This ottoman was already sitting in my living room, not doing much besides housing a few toys my kids didn’t play with much. Voila! Fat pants tossed!

I am happy to report that ditching the big toy organizer solved the dump truck problem. Keeping the bins in the ottoman keeps them out of sight, so they kids only seek them out when they truly want to play with them. I also taught the boys to ask me for a bucket of blocks when they want “to dump.” I get the blocks out of the closet, they play, and when they are done, they pick them up and we put them back together. This is much less chaotic than the piles of random small toys I used to find all over the house!

Now that I have successfully tackled this parenting challenge, I figure my kids have 1-2 weeks to come up with something new to drive me crazy!

What about you? Do you have pockets of toy clutter chaos in your house? Could you rethink the way you store and manage your kids’ toys to make playtime and clean-up easier for everyone involved?

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