Thursday, November 18, 2010

toy closet clean-out and more thoughts about playing

I thought I'd show you the results of our toy closet clean-out from last week. The boys and I pulled out all the bins, opened them, and sorted through the toys to see which could be donated. It turns out that they wanted to keep almost everything! But more to the point, several of the bins that were stacked up turned out to be empty, and I realized that we'd done a pretty good job of keeping the toys down to a minimum throughout the year. So the main part of the clean-out was that I vacuumed the back of the closet, which was much needed, nested the empty boxes, and put everything back. (I still think that wooden mailbox in the front has got to go pretty soon.)
We did switch out a few of the toys, which spurred on a burst of creative play. I'd rotated out the tree blocks several weeks ago so they were happy to see them again.
On my mind right now is playing with the little boys. Last night, Rainer and I had a very fun time playing farm/gnome village. The truth is, I very much like that sort of play. Is that so wrong? No, I think not. It's sweet that the little boys like playing with me. What I think is wrong (sometimes) is that I don't have very much time to do so. With working and all, and cooking, cleaning, making lunches, and doing laundry, playing fairy town, or farm, or gnome houses frequently falls to the bottom of the list. Last night, I played with Rainer anyway, leaving the chores aside, then read to both boys and then lay down with them (and fell asleep). And here's how I ended up paying for it: the lunches did not get made and I ended up rushing about madly in the morning to get everything done that should have been done the night before. You see my dilemma.
But in thinking about it, off and on throughout today, I realize that the key is going to be becoming a better time manager. Not that I aim to be some superwoman, but I realize that whilst making dinner, earlier in the evening, I could have gotten part of the lunches done . . . etc. etc.

I want to make playing more with them possible. Because they are already four and almost six, and these years are flying by. Flying. I already know this because, you see, the older ones are seventeen and twenty! Thinking about how fast the years have flown helps me get my brain organized for how I want to think about this time that I have with Dieter and Rainer.

Sorry for the rambly post tonight, but I had to work this through!

15 comments:

mikalacreation said...

I understand all that so much but what you make is very benevolent and you are very present at the daily. Finally the children fit so especially when they are encircled with loving parents. Grieved for my English, I am French and speak badly! but me heart is there! Courage!

Sarah said...

Not sure if you were asking for ideas, but I too LOVE playing with my children and have been known to let dishes soak for hours. What has helped me to do both is to set the timer. Either five minutes to play than dishes or five minutes spent doing dishes then I go play. We use our timer a lot otherwise I'm not sure we'd ever make it anywhere...so it works for me as a gentle reminder to work quickly at the dishes so I can have more fun. If, however, I'm really wanting to be with them and NEED to get things like lunches packed I ask if they want to help me and than we can play together afterwards. And by help I mean them doing something similarly in a parallel fashion in the same vicinity. Win win, right?

Andrea said...

Very nice re-org...I think the wooden mailbox is cute; maybe you could play writing and mailing letters to each other (you know, in your spare time). I have the same problem...no time, too much to do...the other night E was sobbing because he wanted me to play go fish but I was making dinner...by the time I'd gotten everything in the oven and had a minute, their dad was home and already playing with them, so they didn't need me anymore. This a.m. I took a few minutes to help Z look for a book (not working at a school, my arrival/departure times at work are flexible, though I do try to get in early so I can leave early). It felt good to take just a minute with one of the boys when usually I'm rushing around too busy for them!

PatsyAnne said...

Can't help it - but the best part of your post was the picture of the wee chubby leg - not quite a "boys" leg yet, still cute and "awe-able"....

Family of 4.... said...

I understand how hard it is, and how much there is to do. Maybe on the nights you play with the boys Ken can take over lunch making duties if you tell him what goes in the lunches, etc.?

I agree you should keep the mailbox. When Dieter starts writing and then when Rainer does, they can write letters, post, etc. My girls are 6 & 9 and they would love a mailbox like that to play with.

Your re-organization is great though and it's nice that your kids will donate toys. Can't get my girls to do that yet.

Molly

Denise C. said...

I struggle with the same stuff. My kids are 4, & 2. I want to play with them more, it's hard sometimes, especially around dinnertime, clean-up. The other issue I struggle with is making sure I divide my time up equally with them. Great job on the toy clean out!

hanna said...

great post, lots to think about here. I always ponder in my head the balance of playing with them versus leaving them to make their own play. I do tend to find they play so much more creatively when I'm not there, (like the zoo liam created! - on my blog yesterday.)whereas when I'm there they just want me to take the lead. One thing I'd definately like to do more of is read to them, I always find myself saying, just a minute, I just need to do this first.

Maiz Connolly said...

I think that it is WONDERFUL that you like playing farm/gnome village with Rainer! He will probably remember that forever, and you will, too (long after you've forgotten about rushing around making lunches in the morning).

I also say, keep the mailbox! We love playing with our mailbox. Now that Diego can read and write, it is so fun to slip occasional letters in there for him, and to read the ones he 'sends' me. Is it ugly? Maybe it just needs a little renovation. How about cover it with some chalkboard paint and put a little holder on the side for blank postcards and a pencil?

vincent said...

I play so often with my little girl, but it really got to me when she went to her first sleep over and I was the topic of their conversation. She is almost 7 and told me the next day that she told her friend that I never get to play with her because I am always working... I don't work outside of the home so obviously she meant household tasks... This broke my heart, because I couldn't believe she felt that way. She said her friend told her to just ask me to play with her... I have been trying to play more now because even though to me it seemed like we did, it must not have to the girl who counts... :(

Laura said...

i feel like i could have written part of this post. my five-year-old said something a few weeks ago about me not playing with them enough (i also have a 2 1/2 year old). it broke my heart & made me realize how little i play with them & how the daily chores take up so much of my time. i agree with you on managing time. i need to not only use my time wiser, but also realize that my boys need me and the housework can wait.

thanks for a sweet post reminding us how quickly time goes & to treasure our time with our children.

p.s. i love the wooden mailbox & think your boys will probably use it in the future. we made a mailbox out of a box, covered with blue "mailbox" color construction paper & topped with a blue posterboard dome. we cut a slot in the front for mailing letters & a pull-down tab in the back so the postman can empty the mailbox. we added some labels from the post office - while we were there we also stocked up on some other labels & slips to use when we play post office. we also made letters & envelopes - addressed them, drew stamps, etc. i just rotated it back into their current toys & they're having so much fun with it!

pilgrimama said...

This is indeed one of the Big Questions of parenthood. How do we do everything that needs to be done and still have time for what really matters to us-time to love on our little ones?
For me it seems I often need to re-evaluate my expectations of what other areas of my life are supposed to be like, as in where can I scale back,simplify in other ways to make time for just being with the children.

Mary Beth said...

Hanna--I agree. I really like them to play by themselves too. I think it's so important that they do that. But for my own selfish reasons I want to play with them too while they are still young enough to want to do so.

Maiz--that's it! It's ugly! Painting is such a good idea. Don't know why I never seriously considered that before!

lisarenata said...

I completely agree. I think it is all bout time management, something I am horrible at.

I tell myself every day I will find the time to play more with the kids... and the day comes, a thousand chores and the day ends. Did I take the time to play? Barely, some times no. *sigh*

If you figure it out. Please pass your tips on. I would love to find more time. (Of course getting to bed early should be my first step, right?)

Anonymous said...

I SO agree re time management, I am never happier when I can accomplish 2 or even three things at the same time, cook dinner fold laundry and make a shopping list, or practice typing while I sit with the kids doing their homework....etc. I totally agree re the lunch dinner thing. So great you are so thoughtful about it!

Found you via Elsita and the Brooding Hen

Nomad said...

On another note after reading the posts about playing with our children, it made me realize that I am rotten at "playing" with my kids; I LOVE to spend time with them, reading, crafting, talking, walking, cooking, eating...and I (and they) have come to accept that in a peaceful way. I sort of feel that we are so important to our children in so many really valuable ways, I am happy I do not feel SO guilty (well still a little) about this anymore. Hmmm....