Beyond Deweyville

Breeding, feeding, writing, reading, crafting, and photographing in Orange County, CA Where it has become a novelty to raise your own kids and mow your own grass (if you can afford some).

Purge along with me, the best is yet to be May 8, 2010

Cleaning out the kids’ toys and book giveaway

You’re going to like this one. You get to see some messy parts of my life.

Two statements of truth

1. We have too much stuff

2. Just because everything has a place, doesn’t mean we need it

It all started a few months ago, this journey that led us to last Sunday. I innocently attended my friend Tammra’s talk about creating beautiful Waldorf nooks in your home.

Somewhere in between the tree branches and her felted works of art, she held up this book and said, “Yadda, yadda, yadda, this book changed my life, fiddle, dee, dee, back to the seasonal table items.”

Changed her life huh??

So of course I bought it.

Just so you know, if you tell me a book changed your life, I’ll buy it.

Fast forward

I own the book but never read it.

Everyday I continue to feel less peaceful and bogged down about the amount of trinkets all over the place and the amount of time I spend each night putting each little item back into it’s designated spot.


My path eventually crosses Tammra’s again and this time she’s doing a whole darn study on just this book.

And there I was, week after week with a handful of mothers who were wondering the same thing as me.

Would my family/children have a richer life if they/we had way less stuff?

Less “toys”, less or no electronics, less clothing to choose from each day.

And by less I don’t mean give away a couple of puzzles.

I mean that the kids each have only TWO toys to play with.

Now, if by chance you are living in the Sudan and have somehow happened upon this blog entry, you’re probably thinking two toys is an indulgence. If you’re anywhere in the US reading this you know that only having two toys qualifies you for Project Angel Tree at Christmas and is likely considered child abuse in some parts.

Without reading this fantabulous book you would probably agree with this general idea–less is more. In theory anyway.

But guess what?

This time I actually did it.

Okay, I did act on the NO T.V. WHATSOEVER too, for four whole wonderful months.

Here’s how The Great Toy Purge of 2010 began

Trash Bags

trash bags and a claim

Things you should know

I chose not to surprise my kids with this.

Even with as much as they have, they would have noticed the disappearance of most of it.

I explained that we were going to see if it’s true that having only a couple of toys is better and which two did they want to choose.

This worked because I scoffed and snorted and laughed right along with them, pretending like I too thought this idea was so ridiculous that we couldn’t not try it. Har, Har, Har.

Disclaimer: I realize that some of you looking at this will recognize toys you have either purchased for my kids or lovingly handed down to them.

You might be mad at me

I’m okay with this for a couple of reasons

One being, you don’t have to clean it up I do

And two, your love is tied up in the act of giving, not the gift. Thank you for giving!

Now, the book gives ten categories of toys to toss out.

I won’t expound here, I’ll leave that to the author, but in a nutshell here they are:

1. Broken

2. Developmentally inappropriate

3. Conceptually “fixed”

4. Highly specialized toys that tend to break too easily

5. Highly stimulating

6. Annoying or offensive

7. Toys that claim to give a developmental edge

8. Toys you were pressured to buy either by T.V. or a child

9. Toys that inspire corrosive play

10. Toy multiples (that’s us, that’s us!)

Everybody on the tour bus buckled up?

Stop number 1: The Playroom

Here’s how it looks almost every morning and right before people come over

Wait, there’s Bootsy. Let’s stop and see how cute she is

Okay, onward. The baby changing area. Wait til you see how many clothes are crammed in that thing.

The reading corner, where no one has ever, not once that I’ve seen, ever sat down to read a book.

In the trunk you’ll find the dress-up clothes.

The Fairy-Gnome Treehouse. This was one of Amaiah’s two items she chose to keep out.

And here’s what it looks like the hours between breakfast and bedtime or right after friends leave.

And I wonder why I’m up so late every night, even with the kids help?

Stop number two: Take Inventoryville

To see just how much stuff we had managed to find a basket or shelf for, I laid some containers all out and photographed them.

It’s one thing to dump a crate into a plastic bag.  It gives you a whole different perspective to see a category completely countable in front of you.

15 weapons

14 bags

8 costumes, 9 hats, 8 sets of fairy wings

11 outfits for Bunny

Too many little plastic things to count, that she NEVER dumps out and plays with.

It all got loaded up and taken to the garage where it is “resting” for thirty days.

Even Shivohn’s basket got a clean out. It lives in a drawer in my living room and over the course of about ten months went from this

to this

Finally, we tackled the toys in Wyatt and Amaiah’s bedroom. They both have a desk that looked like this a lot of the time.

I dumped it all out onto each of their beds and handed them one jar each. The rule was nothing stayed that couldn’t fit into the jar or treasure chest, but they by no means had to fill either.  I asked them to pick items that they loved SO dearly that they desired to look at them every day.

Wyatt took one look at his bed and said, “I don’t really care about any of this.”



We ended up with slightly more than two toys each because I couldn’t define “a toy” very easily (i.e., is a doll and an outfit considered one or two?) and I wasn’t willing to get that crazy about it.

Wyatt chose a small bin of original block Legos, and two wood swords.

Amaiah chose the Treehouse and two dolls.

I was not willing to move the wood kitchen out to the garage even though nobody chose it. I did however take practically everything out of it.

Also, if it was handmade by us or a friend, it stayed. That amounted to a couple of aprons, the silks we dyed, and two sewn dolls.

So that’s where I am with it! What do you think so far?

More importantly, how are the kids doing with it?


There have been maybe three occasion where one of them has asked about an item. I tell them it is safely in the garage and they just shrug and move on.

Next I plan to tackle books, followed by clothes, and outdoor things which I did not include in the toys. Throughout the house we have three spots with book baskets. When all is said and done, this is the only one I plan on keeping

Speaking of books, I want to give you one.

The Giveaway

Do you promise you’ll read it?

Enter a comment below before next Saturday, May 15th 2010 at 12:00 noon PST.

I’ll choose one winner randomly and send them a copy of “Simplicity Parenting”


Happy Tossing Everyone


8 Responses to “Purge along with me, the best is yet to be”

  1. noelle Says:

    I love how you had everything in groups, just to see how much you really had. Can you please do that to the rest of your house. then make a book out of it.
    How is the process thus far? Good luck with the rest!!

  2. Amy S Says:

    just found your site. i need to do the same with toys.

  3. Lindsey Says:

    Oh Shal… you have inspired me! This is SO needed at our house!!!!!!

  4. this sounds so interesting! i would love to have only 6 things to clean up!

  5. mothersandothers Says:

    **And the WINNER is….Lindsey Cheney!! Whoot! Whoot!**
    I’ll be sending it your way soon.

  6. ha! yay me! and just a little note – you totally inspired me! i went through the playroom and the girls’ room, all toys and clothes. we moved at least 8 big trash bags of unneccessary #%*@ out to the garage until they forget we did it! it was awesome how much they helped. i just kept saying, “think how much less you’ll have to pick up!”. can’t wait for the book!

  7. oh my gosh, shalimar,
    i think you are so fabulous. i have had simplicity parenting for well over a year now and have never cracked it open. i mean who has time to read simplicity parenting when i have a hundred toys and books to clean up three times a day?
    i will read it and continue to follow your clean-out. i need to follow suit.
    peace, katie

    • mothersandothers Says:

      Listen, Katie, I should post a photo of my “This Book Looked Good on Amazon” shelf. I had to crack my copy open. Joining a book study forces you to I found out. Accountability, who knew? I’d try to go home and people would see me in the school parking lot and say things like, “Hey, see you in a couple of minutes inside, to talk about the book you’ve been reading.” I’ll be waiting to hear what you think of it…

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