No purse is safe . . . No box untouched . . . And I don’t even want to talk about Walmart bags! My four year old is going to be the end of me. Why, you ask? She is an organized pack rat. The only problem is that her organizational skills only make sense to her. I’ve finally given up on keeping a “tidy” home. Instead, we have a once a week “sorting party” where we empty every box, purse, bag, tote, basket, and drawer into a giant pile on the floor and commence to sort like mad. It’s nice when it’s done! But it only lasts for about five minutes, but it puts a little order into our chaos. I need that little bit of order.
Seriously, I need it.
Giving her “talents” a name started me thinking about free play. It’s something that I don’t think kids get enough of these days. As we were sorting her bags and piles, she would say things like, “Mom, that’s my store!” or “My stuffed animals are at the movie theater!” Then there was “Mom, you can’t clean my mermaid pond!” It was a blanket on the floor with random toys thrown on it–one toy from each of our recently sorted bins. They were “seashells”. So much imagination for someone so small!
I recently read an article about why it’s important for kids to be bored (http://bit.ly/1DBQEAY), and I mostly agreed. Being bored gives them time to use those brains that we sometimes think have been misplaced. The article had a giant Boredom Buster Jar list that included things from build a fort to writing Grandma a letter (or an email). My favorite, though, was read a book. In our family, that translates into reading a giant pile of books.
So now I try very hard during every sorting party to remember that all of these toys, in their random strange places, are actually hours of free playtime that are building one little girl (and her brother, too) into a child that can think creatively and work independently.
In honor of sorting parties, my book this week is Kelly DiPucchio’s Mrs. McBloom Clean Up Your Classroom:
This book is about a teacher who is retiring, and hasn’t cleaned her classroom in 50 years! She challenges her class to “Come up with an idea to get Room #5 tidy, lickety-split.” The idea for the book is very sweet, and Mrs. McBloom is likable enough. I love the idea of community, and that if everyone takes just one thing the room will be tidy “lickety-split”. The illustrations are fabulous, and all of the insanely crazy items that they find are hilarious. The book is a bit wordy, and my four year old’s interest wavered at about the 3/4 mark. I don’t think it will make the check-it-out-every-other-time-we-go-to-the-library list, but still a great read.