As I prepared our house to go on the market I knew our biggest challenge would be storing our many toys and encouraging our kids to dial back on the playroom mess. There is nothing I love more than listening to my kids play imaginatively in the playroom, which is still their primary source of entertainment. Building large, elaborate play cities with blocks? Yes. Recreating the Trans-Siberian Railway through the entire family room? The bigger the better, I say! But when you are on constant alert for calls from realtors who want to show your house in an hour, these wonderful messes become a thorn for both mom and kids. So we stowed many of the toys, and the kids have learned to alter their play.
Amazingly, I've heard few complaints. Drawing has been big. Online chess is a hit. Reading, writing stories and playing cards have taken the place of Littlest Pet Shops. How creative can you get with 1/4 as many Legos? Very, it turns out. It helps that we're busy with school, soccer and Kung Fu, and that the skateboard park is the new favorite destination on a dry day. Staying out of the house keeps it tidy. But living with fewer toys has been eye-opening for all of us. It really can be done.
A friend recently went through this same exercise when she and her family moved. She boxed up the toys, and when they moved she only unboxed a few. Her girls got some 'new' Craigslist toys that they'd long wanted. But lots and lots of the 'old' toys stayed boxed and ultimately went away, forgotten. I love this strategy for reducing toys by introducing a few new-to-you toys as a distraction. (I think I want to do this with my clothes and books!)
Sure, our favorite toys will make a comeback. But I'm already making lists of the ones that will likely find new homes. By the time we settle in to our new house (which could very well be smaller than our current home) we'll have leaner playroom. And that will be just fine.