There’s an interesting TED talk about the dangers of too much choice. That us privileged folks in the West are suffocated by the superfluity of choices we have. Basically, all our stuff controls us. It sounds pretty familiar.
A popular piece of advice which we’ve taken on board is toy rotation. As crop rotation keeps a farmer’s field fertile and rich (thank you GSCE History!), so toy rotation keeps a child’s imagination and sense of inventiveness rich and alive. Well I don’t know about that, but it certainly makes the living room easier to live in.
There must be a mathematical formula. Something like this:
(TIME x SPACE) + TOYS – (TIME x SPACE) x A REALLY BIG NUMBER = MESS*
In other words, it doesn’t matter how limited time or space is, the more toys you give them, the more they will mess up your house. You can limit play time. You can move to a smaller house. Doesn’t matter. They will go through those toys like a plague of locusts.
We started rotating toys. It works. The website I mentioned earlier (Playful Learning – very good website btw.) suggests categorising toys into their particular functions: active toys, thinking toys, imagination toys etc. Also, Adrienn Csoknyay offers this bit of advice:
“Record the name of each toy or set by category. Preferably each category on a different piece of paper, leaving plenty of space for notes and ideas. As you wrap up a 2 week period you can jot down your remarks, which toys they played with and what they are into at the moment. Taking stock will not only provide you with valuable information for when you go shopping for presents, you will also have a wonderful notebook full of memories at the end of the year.”
Good idea. I’m not that thorough. Dump them in a box and store them away. We have three boxes – one per month, so that’s a full rotation with each season. I don’t know if it’s helped them share better, or engage with their toys at a more meaningful level, but it’s helped my stress levels.
Of course, Lego’s different. Lego never gets rotated. Lego scoffs at rotation, sneers at the inferior toys forced to be locked away for two months. Hahahahaha! Lego – the Highlander of toys!
* I cannot vouch for the mathematically validity of this equation. My ability ends with (perhaps before) working out Angle x on a triangle).