Saturday, December 26, 2009


I'm sitting amidst a pile of toys so big I could get lost in them. My head was spinning all day as I tried to get all of our Christmas gifts organized and put away. Both of my girls are in the process of switching to the next size up in clothes, so I put all of their old clothes in bins and put the new clothes neatly in the drawers. At least one thing is organized! That brings me to the toys. We have a large shelving unit from Home Depot set up in our storage area in the basement.

Every few months, I go through the playroom and donate some toys, throw away toys that are broken or otherwise non-functioning, or sort the rest on this shelving unit. On the bottom shelf, I've placed toys for children ages 0-18 months, the next shelf up is for 18 mo- 36 mos, next is 3-4, then 5-6. The top shelf is where I store blankets/pillows. From time to time I take some of the toys on the shelf and bring them back into the playroom. As every parent knows, the children treat those toys like they're brand new! We rotate in this way every few months, in an effort to make the best use of our space.

Now, I've known Montessori couples who have children and I find it fascinating how they organize their home. The playroom typically consists of an easel, a small table with two chairs, a very uncluttered bookcase, and a single shelving unit with a few beautiful, handcrafted toys displayed. I don't know, they must have an enormous storage area. Believe me, if it were only me, my entire house would probably be miniature, I'd have only a few toys out in the playroom that would be rotated weekly, and I'd be eating dinner in a tiny child's chair. However, my husband also lives here and has a say in how we furnish and decorate our home. I respect that he is not obsessed with the Montessori philosophy, like I am, but I do wish I could go back to basics with my children.

Don't you feel like our children today are so overwhelmed with *stuff* that their little heads are just spinning, like mine? My oldest daughter was just tearing through her gifts and at one point, I noticed she wasn't even registering what each one was. My youngest opened a gift and played with it for some time before moving on. Of course, she was still opening gifts at 8pm last night!

So, next year, I've decided to implement my Rule of Ten. Each child will receive ten presents and each parent will receive ten presents. There are families all over the world that would do anything for ten presents at Christmastime. My goal for this new year is to teach my girls about the gifts of simplicity and gratitude. In such a materialistic culture, how do you teach your children to be grateful?

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