Sunday, August 19, 2012

Even stuffed animals need a vacation

For some time, we’ve been dealing with an army of stuffed animals in the kids’ bedrooms. If you have young children, you know what I’m talking about. It just seems like that pile of stuffed animals a kid collects just keeps growing and growing! That became a problem for Jesse, because the stuffed animals were taking over his bedroom.

When Jennifer was little, we handled her stuffed animal overload by bagging a good portion of them up and putting them in storage. But as Jen got older and started to outgrow her “babies,” I became concerned that she was missing out on the chance to enjoy all of her toys.

You can probably guess what happened next: I tore open those bags and set all of her other stuffed animals free! After being apart from them for so long, it was like Christmas for her. She was so happy to see her “lost babies” again.

And I didn’t want to separate them from her again, either. Her face just lit up when she saw them again, I didn’t have the heart to take them all away again.

But that happiness didn’t last. After a while, she just didn’t play with them again. Or even anymore.

Then, finally, she gave a whole bunch of them to her little brother Jesse.

That was a problem because now I had an even BIGGER army of stuffed animals in Jesse’s room. And they … were … EVERYWHERE!!!!

Up until then, I had been managing the stuffed animal armies in both of the kids’ rooms. Now I had an even bigger army in one bedroom! Eek!

Of course, hubby was of the opinion we should bag ‘em all up again. But I didn’t want to do that. Jesse is only 4. He still enjoys playing with stuffed animals and I wanted him to be able to play with ALL of his stuffed animals!

But we had to do SOMETHING!

After some thought, I made a decision: We WILL bag up the stuffed animals that Jesse doesn’t play with so much …. but … we won’t leave them bagged up forever. I decided we’ll do what Jen does with all of her books: We will rotate them. We’ll put some away for a few months, then switch them with the other toys for a few months. This way, he can take turns playing with all of his stuffed animals.

But how was I going to deal with any fear or anxiety that Jesse might have if I bag up his toys? What if he freaks out and thinks we’re getting rid of them or keeping them bagged up FOREVER?

Then it hit me: I can tell him that his stuffed animals are going on a vacation. Which is pretty much the truth.

So, I set about to go through his huge pile of stuffed animals. I got Jesse in his bedroom with me and explained the situation. I told him that it is time for some of his stuffed animals to go on a vacation, and he gets to decide which ones can go.

He asked me where they were going to go on a vacation to. Whoa! I hadn’t expected that. But I got all excited and told him they are going to Toyland, where they’ll get to play together and eat ice cream cones every day. He thought that was an awesome way to spend a vacation!

After this explanation, we got busy selecting the stuffed animals that would go and the ones that would stay. He was actually very engaged in this activity! He went right through all of the stuffed animals without any tears or worries – though after he gave a stuffed monkey a bunch of kisses goodbye, he changed his mind and kept it out. (Monkeys are one of his favorite animals.) Still, we got it done and he was happy to see the chosen stuffed animals off on a vacation.

And, surprisingly, he even wanted to get rid of some “baby” toys! We decided to put them in the yard sale pile.

I was so proud of Jesse for being tough through it all. He was very excited about sending some of his stuffed animals off to Toyland for a vacation and I could tell he wasn’t worried about if he’ll ever see them again, because he knows that in a few months, they’ll be right back in his room again. Then it will be the OTHER toys’ turn to go on a vacation.

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