Blocking the way with blocks
It’s gotten bad, but I don’t know how to stop it.
Everyone told us that, ahead of the arrival of our first child, we shouldn’t bring home a single toy; they would soon arrive in waves, filling every crevice and overtaking all the furniture. Hand-me-downs from friends, yard sale purchases, birthday gifts: these colorful, musical gems would become our newest roommates, blocking our path to the stairs and tripping us up as we forage for midnight snacks.
I was so cute when Oliver arrived, thinking we would escape the scourge that is DUPLO blocks (LEGO’s kid brother). I find them lodged everywhere from couch cushions to bathtub drains. We’ll just get a nice toy box, I thought, and stuff everything in there. It’ll be easy to clean up. How long could a nightly tidying routine actually take?
Homes are sanctuaries, and blah blah blah.
Now, trust me: we’re not neat freaks. I’ve put our business in the streets many times by mentioning the never-ending piles of mail, the mugs forgotten around the house, the laundry that accumulates next to the hamper — not in it.
But this? The toys are a whole new level of crazy.
I guess Oliver was about a year old when we just . . . gave up. I bought one lonely fabric bin at HomeGoods early in parenthood, thinking that would be plenty of storage (and it was so trendy!). It’s been overflowing for months. As soon as Ollie was mobile, his favorite game became crawling over to systematically destroy the living room. Then the dining area. Then the kitchen. He’s really good at it. Books. Blocks. Teething toys. Deflated balloons. Musical robots. Bath toys that have wandered far from the bath. Empty plastic cups. Half-full water bottles. Pots. Spoons. Cookie tins. An adorable toy farm missing all its residents save one goat.
These are a few of Ollie’s favorite things.
My child believes in equality, ensuring that no object in our house feels neglected. He does have favorite books, but toys? Nothing is off-limits. Every loud, annoying thing will have its moment in the sun.
Sometimes I survey the wreckage and marvel at how very far we’ve fallen. For a while, we had folks coming in constantly to see the new baby — and that helped keep us “company-ready” at all times. Even in my delirious new parent haze, I tried to keep the floors vacuumed.
In hindsight? I wish I hadn’t worried so much about that. No one cared about the cereal bowls in the sink. But the need to freshen up for company is so deeply ingrained in me — so much a part of my genetic code — that it’s impossible to fight. A simple “heading over!” text will have me furiously scrubbing a toilet in no time.
But you know what’s changed all that? FaceTime.
“Heading over” can be relative. At any given moment, I can be greeted by family members’ smiling faces through our smartphones — meaning they’re “here” without actually being here, seeing our home in all its inglorious glory. Modern technology is a wonderful thing, and I love that my motherand father-in-law can feel connected to their grandson from out-of-state.
But you know what else that means? Controlling the chaos.
There is an easy solution to this, I know: stop worrying about it. And I have made strides toward not making myself crazy about the mess.
The current state of the downstairs would attest to that. As we left for work Wednesday morning, Puffs snacks — and the accompanying Puffs dust — covered swaths of the kitchen floor and Ollie’s high chair. A discarded spoon, still with part of breakfast, had been tossed near the fridge.
In the living room, yesterday’s onesie — changed just before we left for day care — was crumpled on the stairs. Oliver’s cups and bottles littered the coffee table. Quilts — or, sorry, “tents” — were stretched across half the room. And that’s all to say nothing of the actual toys, flung far and wide.
I’ve kind of . . . stopped seeing it. Is that bad? Like the “You’ve gone noseblind” commercials, I consider the house reasonably clean if the couch is clear enough to be used as an actual couch and junk mail hasn’t toppled off the TV stand.
My standards, as they say, have lowered. Some might call it messy; I call it preserving my sanity.
But seriously, if you’re stopping by . . . maybe shoot us a text first.
Unannounced visitors have to help pick up all the dirty spoons.