As I desperately tried to cram Princess's beanie babies, teddy bears, and other stuffed animals into the medium sized bin I'd long ago allocated for stuffed animals, a thought crossed my mind-I needed to go shopping for bigger storage containers. The stuffed animals were overflowing into the doll bin which was overflowing into the box of board books which was overflowing onto the toys shelves which were overflowing onto the floor of my living room. You get the picture.
How did we get so many toys? It's my personal theory that toys secretly procreate in the dark of night, multiplying their numbers so sneakily that you don't even notice it happening until one day you realize that your whole house has been turned into a giant playroom. Of course, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even I am guilty of keeping Princess entertained with an endless supply of new toys to play with. My big pitfall is thrift store and garage sale shopping. My experience usually goes something like this:
"Look at the practically brand new, adorable toy that reminds me of my own childhood and gives me warm, fuzzy feelings inside! And look, it's only 50 cents!! I must buy it for my own child so she too can experience childhood to its fullest!"
I get home and hold my breath as I hand the latest acqusition over to Princess, anticipating shrieks of joy. She takes it from me, examines it briefly, and drops it to the floor so she can play with the the empty lotion bottle I forgot to throw away earlier.
As I contemplated what type of storage bins I could find that would contain the evergrowing population of Princess's toys, the solution hit me. The answer was to make the toys fit into the space we already had. I grabbed a garbage bag and started digging through the stuffed animals. I still haven't figured out why stuffed animals are such a popular gift to give children when I don't know a single child who actually plays with them. Occasionally, Princess will go through the bin and look at each one before wandering off to play with something else, but that is the extent of her interaction with her stuffed animals. So, it was relatively easy to downsize those. Then I started in on the rest of her toys. That was a little more difficult because I didn't want to get rid of toys that were gifts from relatives, but I managed to fill the garbage bag and off it went to Goodwill.
My new worry is that I'm due to have our second child next month and it's a boy. Which means a whole new set of toys geared for boys. I'm not one of those people who insist on toys being gender specific, but I don't think my little farm boy is going to want to play with dolls and other girly stuff ALL the time. He's probably going to want tractors and cars and the relatives will be more than happy to supply him with plenty of those. Another child also means twice as many birthday and Christmas presents for me to find space for. I'm hoping to convince relatives that, instead of giving a bunch of smaller stuff to each child, they can give one bigger gift to both the kids. But we'll see...
Unsolicited Advice: I recently remembered one of my favorite things to play with when I was a kid and decided to recreate it for Princess. When my parents moved back to Minnesota from Florida, my mom filled a cake pan with white sand from the beach. She didn't take it out very often so it was a special treat to get to play with it and it was perfect for when we were stuck inside all winter. Not having access to beach sand, I decided to use white rice to fill my cake pan. You could also use dry beans, oatmeal, gravel, etc.