Last year I attended a talk on child rearing where the speaker talked about how we as mothers are the “editors in chiefs” of our homes.
She said we should constantly edit what comes into our child’s lives – from toys and books to even food and friends – to make sure our children are only exposed to wholesome and uplifting things. We can take our children to countless art camps and trips to the museum, but the fact of the matter is that young children spend the majority of their time at home. So we need to make sure the things in our homes are beneficial for their development and for their sweet little spirits.
Now this might not be a radical idea to other moms, but it was to me. I had assumed that if something was made for a child, then it was good. But I was struck one night when I overheard my husband reading a book to my daughter about aliens coming down from the sky and tying up a little girl’s puppy dog!
I ran into her room and grabbed the book. I realized it had been part of a baby gift basket given to us a few years back. The cover was so innocent with a darling puppy dog featured. I didn’t need my daughter having nightmares about aliens tying up our labradoodle, so this book was the first victim of my editing spree.
The next day I began to seriously consider tossing out things that, while they may have come into our home quite innocently, were just not right for our family:
When I actually began reading the children’s books in our home, I was shocked to find that some of the girly books we received as presents had rather questionable themes. One example: Purplicious. The cover is cute, but the sequel to the adorable Pinkalicious is actually quite dark. Pinkalicious is teased by girls because the color pink isn’t cool anymore and she, in turn, gets depressed. Quite the downer! Maybe I will feel differently when my daughters are older, but this book has no place in our house when my children are so young.
In addition to throwing out age-inappropriate books, I also gave away a lot of the Disney princess and character books. These aren’t bad by any means, but I just want my children to be drawn to books that are more nutritious to the brain. So now we read a little more Beatrix Potter and less Dora’s Easter Surprise.
In my editing spree I threw away the junky kids’ meal toys and stored the babyish toys. I found it hard to part with the broken ones (maybe I’ll superglue the waterslide back on that Polly Pocket pool someday…) and the toys missing a piece. As for the toys that didn’t really challenge my girl’s imagination, well I scooted those towards the back of the shelves. Toys like Magna-tiles, dress up clothes, Legos, and doll house figurines are now more readily available. Why? They have to invent ways to play with them, and once they do their imaginations run wild.
I’m all for a little “t.v. babysitting” when I need to dry my hair or write an email. But during my recent high-risk pregnancy, I depended on that flat screen way too much. So this winter I kept the t.v. off more and my girls had so much fun with their pretend camp outs and doll tea parties.
I also trimmed our DVD collection; giving away some fairy and Barbie-themed DVDs where the characters were way too sassy and said things like “shut up.” (I don’t need them picking up any more bad behaviors!)
Editing my home is something that is a work in progress, but I’ve enjoyed being more intentional about the activities we do and the things we own. I’m becoming more confident to make those tough, even if unpopular, decisions about what’s in our home. This is good, because I am sure this editing thing is only going to get tougher as my girls get into grade school and beyond!
Have you discovered items in your home that weren’t age-appropriate?
How do you handle content coming into your home?