I had my first kid a year before Pinterest came into existence… and when it came out, it was a big fancy deal.
I even learned about it in a presentation given by a pretentious fashion lady at a conference. Big, fancy, deal.
Do you remember that? When it first came out, it was so exclusive you had to ask for an invitation to have an account. It came with 5 or 6 pre-loaded boards and then you were free to roam the mystical land of "pinboards."
What I discovered in this strange new world seemed, on the outside, extremely useful. Color swatches pulled from photographs and elegantly organized in a single image… recipes for crockpot meals… how to potty train your kid for goodness' sake. Suddenly all this information was available to me in a way that it wasn't before: packaged like a Target ad and marketed as an exclusive club.
I pinned for hours, read blog posts galore, and learned about a strategy that has haunted my entire life as a parent. Let me paraphrase:
"As your children grow older, they will accumulate a lot of toys… And who wants to live in clutter, am I right? So, the trick to keeping these toys under control is this: simply put half of their toys away and rotate them when they start to show signs of becoming tired with the other half."
A Simple, Simply Unattainable Goal
Brilliance. I thought this was sheer brilliance. Of course! All I have to do is simply put half of their toys away and then rotate them seasonally... or something!
So, I tried. As this sweet little human I created picked each toy out of the plastic tote and played with it as though he’d never played with it his whole life, I tried to separate the blocks from the dinosaurs, the cars from the bath toys, and put them back in the "rotation tote."
This went on for about 25 minutes and suddenly he was 5 years old. I had another kid, moved four separate times, and I had still never actually completed the simple "toy rotation" strategy.
Every time I walked into my kids' bedroom and tripped over 3 Peppa Pig characters and 2 Octonauts, I'd think "Failure, failure, failure." I mean, how? How could people actually get that done? Sure, I could do it after the kids go to bed… but then when do I put my feet up and relax?
It’ll happen. Someday. Maybe.
Now that my kids are 7 and 4, this strategy is becoming less of a haunting reminder of failure and more of a reminder of realism. Everybody's got a forte; mine is not cleaning and home organization. I'm capable of it, but when I’m stretched thin, it's the last thing on my list of priorities.
Here's the miracle, friends: It's happening. I just organized one tote full of mis-matched, piled-up toys and put them away. To be rotated. In real life.
It didn't take a bout of magical willpower, it just took time. It took time for me to realize that my specific, individual life simply did not work the way Pinterest thought it should. It took time for my kids to reach a point where they leave me alone for more than 12 minutes.
I still have four more totes to go through… which seems intimidating, sure. But, internet land, I did one. That's one more tote than I thought I ever would. That's progress, and I'm allowing myself to be proud of... myself.
Maybe after I finish all of the toys, I'll open up those totes full of all of my kids' artwork and thin them out a little bit.
It'll happen. Someday. Maybe.