Where Are All Of the T-O-Y-S!?

There is one question–maybe even a concern–that we have been getting a lot of lately: Where are all of Greta’s toys?! Sometimes it is out of genuine curiosity and sometimes it is a little condescending, but either way it shows up in some form (my inbox, facebook, a comment, instgram, etc.) at least once a week.  Yesterday we received the question in comment form and I figured it was time to address is once and for all.  Here’s an excerpt from the comment posted on yesterday’s post:

…I have noticed though as I look through the pictures that there are no signs of a three year old girl living in your house. You have mentioned blocks, books and a train set, but no kitchen play set, no baby dolls, no baby doll crib, no barbies, no doll house, no playhouse, no swingset in the backyard. This makes me wonder since Greta has no siblings to play with, maybe she is bored. All 3 years olds are high energy, active and easily bored maybe she just needs more to entertain herself with….

–Anonymous

Anonymous–and all you other curious minds–yes, it is true, Greta doesn’t have a playhouse, play kitchen, dollhouse, doll crib (she does have dolls–more on that in a moment), swing set, or a ton of barbies.  In fact, she just has one barbie.  It is a boy and she calls him, “Daddy doll.”  She does have quite the collection of other dolls and stuffed animals but she doesn’t love them or play with them frequently, with the exception of her stuffed puppy we got her for Christmas when she turned one. While there are certainly a lot of things our just-turned-three year old doesn’t have, we are aware of her needs, wants and really wants and love to supply her with as many options to learn, entertain herself and increase her creativity without splurging on things we know she won’t care for in a week–like a play kitchen. Here’s what she does do all day:
Although I don’t think a play kitchen is in order with Greta (who knows a future child might seem very interested in the idea–and we’ll happily oblige), Greta really enjoys helping out in the actual kitchen. Around the time she turned two, we started letting Greta help prepare meals. We would let her help us stir, pour, measure, press the button on the blender every morning–anything that she could do (and we felt comfortable letting her)–she did.  For Christmas, my sister and her wife upgraded Greta’s little chef’s hat, to an entire ensemble to help develop her passion–and it’s adorable.

The imaginary version of a kitchen just wouldn’t cut it for her. She has friends that have them – she just isn’t interested.  Another activity that Greta spends her days exploring takes place in the studio.  When we designed the studio, we knew it would be a place for both Greta and I–and it really is.  Not only does Greta have her very own chalkboard table in there, but she frequently takes over my easel to paint.

The studio is the only room upstairs that we do activities or have toys.  Greta has always been a dynamite sleeper and I think it is due to the fact that we reserve our bedrooms for relaxation and sleep. She is definitely a doer, she likes to be involved in activities–even if the activity is folding laundry–but we do keep toys stored all over the first floor for her.  Two out of three sections of the fauxdenza are dedicated to Greta.
Her new keyboard she got for her birthday (huge hit!), a bucket of playdoh, books and coloring books, stacking cups, a big pink car, her stacking penguin and hammer toy all sit in plain sight on the shelves and we used baskets to corral smaller, like items.  Baskets are a life-saver when it comes to storing toys!  Here’s a peek at what is in those baskets:
Her wheely cow–the most popular toy during play dates–also hangs out in the living room next to the couch.
In the family room, we have more toys stored away.  Her train set that we got her from Christmas is tucked in a narrow, large basket with a lid next to the couch and she plays with it almost every day.
Her building blocks are another almost-daily toy and they’re stored in a large basket on the built-ins.
On the bottom shelf in the smaller section of the built-ins, we keep a rotating collection of twenty or so books that we might be asked to read to her, or frequently she will “read” to herself or her audience of stuffed animals that also found a home in a basket in this little nook.
The family room is also the place to be on weekends, when we bust out Greta’s ladybug tent.  Maybe it isn’t as trendy as those cool teepees flying around the internet, but it makes Saturdays feel really special when we all squeeze in and pretend like we’re pirates…or whatever Greta has planned.  Plus, it folds down into a tiny round case that gets shoved into the coat closet until the special day–or whenever we need a break during the week.  Keeping something not readily accessible automatically makes it special and more fun.
When it gets warmer, Greta cruises around on her scooter or big wheel around our cul-de-sac, or we walk around the corner to the playground at the school, but we are really itching to get a playset in the backyard.  In fact, that is on the agenda for this spring/summer (SO excited to work more in the yard this year and bring you all with us!).
So, even though Greta doesn’t have every toy that maybe most typical toddlers have (??), rest assured her happiness and growth is definitely our priority. Every child is different, and Greta has never been content with being entertained by toys or things kids are supposed to enjoy. She is wild and active and curious and just wants to be with us, doing whatever we’re doing. And we are doing our best to provide her with an environment where she can be herself.
Ps.  Today is the last day to enter to win an eco-friendly throw from Happy Habitat.  Enter here.

81 Comments

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    ~Kayla~

    I totally dont feel you needed to post this! Anyone questioning you like that should be ashamed! Greta is ALWAYS smiling in pictures and you clearly are doing things with her regularly. Just because you arent a mom who sticks their child in front of massive amounts of toys to be entertained vs ACTUALLY PLAYING WITH HER speaks volumes! Teaching her responsibility thru chores, like laundry, and still keeping it fun takes lots of interaction. Kudos to you! I think the only problem I have is how the heck you keep your house so tidy with a 3yr old haha! Mine is a circus!

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Chris Loves Julia

      Hahaha. We clean up as we go. And this post is as much about storage solutions as it is about “yes! of course our daughter has toys!”

    • Reply February 20, 2013

      janet @ ordinary mom

      I agree with Kayla. Although I loved the sneak peak into a part of your lives and routine and great storage ideas – LOVE baskets for toys – I felt bad that people places judgement on your amount of visible toys. Since Greta is getting so big (where does the time go) what are you plans for her art area when she gets too tall for the chalkboard table? (with tall parents, I am thinking she is close). :) Are you going to give her a desk? A larger table?

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Carol Ross

    Looks like Greta has plenty of toys, you are just creative in how you store everything out of sight when she’s not playing with them. Plus, and most importantly, seems to me she is getting lots of quality mommy and daddy time which is way more valuable than any toy around.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Sara

    I, too, think it’s shameful that anyone would voice their concern about your parenting. The internet tends to amplify the nosy neighbor syndrome, I suppose. Greta looks like she has an engaging, wonderful, and blessed life!

    I’m super impressed with your storage ideas for her toys and especially with how tidy your house is! Bravo.

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Chris Loves Julia

      Thanks Sara. We’re happy to post about our storage ideas for the curious and finally put to rest other concerns.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Karen

    Man, it never ceases to amaze me how so many people online want to tend to everyone else’s business.

    Love all your storage ideas.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Jennah

    I always wondered where they were just because I wanted to see how you store them. We try to keep things put away/hidden as much as possible since we have a small house and a 1 year old, so it’s interesting to see others’ solutions for how to keep things put away and what toys you can do without. I LOVE play kitchens, but I don’t know that we can ever have one because it’d have to be the centerpiece of our living room. :/

    How often do you clean things up? Do you wait until the end of the day, just clean up before you take blog pics…? I put everything away every time ours takes a nap/sleeps, which I know is probably dumb, but it makes me feel sane.

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Chris Loves Julia

      We clean up after each activity. So if we’re done with the trains–put them away. Before we start playdoh, gotta clean up the blocks, etc. It’s easier now that Greta does the majority of tidying up her toys.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Kara

    You know, I don’t think you should have NEEDED to post this, but I LOVE that you did. Love it. (Ok, here’s where I have to post the disclaimer that I don’t have kids, don’t plan to have kids, etc. I love kids, though, and I’m Aunt Kara to many many of them!)

    One of the things that put my ex on the fence about having kids was the amount of clutter and JUNK that all of our friends and family seemed to have around all the time. People who we knew who were otherwise neat and tidy people had kids and suddenly had houses that looked like an overfunded pre-school. There were toys everywhere, all the time, and rooms that were formerly places for the adults to hang out became the repository for plastic kitchens, mini-slide sets, wagons and trains and bikes, oh my!

    I get that with kids there is going to be some clutter – especially with babies and toddlers. But the idea that your house needs to look like a Toys-R-Us showroom in order to have a happy kid is just repulsive.

    So thank you for posting that it’s possible to have a happy, inquisitive, well-adjusted child w/out feeding the toy monster or letting the children completely take over every single corner of the house!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Anna Townsend

    Thanks for sharing, although I’m sorry so many people made you feel like you needed to justify & explain your parenting choices. This was an encouraging & refreshing post. My husband & I are expecting our first child & I want to #1: not get caught up in the materialistic, “every child needs 40 million toys & stuffed animals” cultural in which we live & want to, as you are doing, to take each child’s temperament & personality into consideration concerning play time, as well as everything else. #2: I so appreciate you sharing your organization choices, as I wish to keep as neat a house as possible. Thanks again!

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Chris Loves Julia

      It is easy to get caught up in it, but Greta has always been the child more interested in the box than the toy in it–so why fill our house with toys?!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Anonymous

    I love your blog! I did not need an explanation for why there are no toys laying around your house either. I just frequent the blog because I love your sense of style and Greta’s adorableness! No one knows Greta better than you and your husband therefore other people do not matter. However, I am intrigued by the way you store the toys. This inspires me to start working on the mess I have with my 2 year old. :)

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Chris Loves Julia

      Awesome!

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Anonymous

      Just to clarify, I am not the person who made the comment that inspired this post. I don’t have any of the account options. Once I create an account, I will post more!

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Chris Loves Julia

      Hahaha. I know! We get lots of Anonymous comments–which are JUST FINE. Having our comments set up this way is the only way our commenters can set up their comment linking back to their website if they wanted to…or be anonymous if they wanted to! :)

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    vicks27

    Yay! I love to see GretaGirl in the little chef outfit that Jenn and I got for her! We’re printing that pic out and sticking it on our fridge!

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Rebecca Smith

      ha ha ha… saw the “Whole Foods” chef outfit and immediately thought of Aunt Jenn! Julia… I’ve only met you for a split second, but knowing your sister… I am sure that Greta is loved and entertained to the MAX! this just proves what i have always told parents… entertainment comes from family interactions… not from toys or a video game console. keep up the good work… I love the Style of the Bradley girls. Always classy, always cool. Take care!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Andrew C

    It never even crossed my mind to ask you where you keep toys. I just assumed you cleaned up before you took any pictures, like most bloggers do. I don’t think it comes down to being negligent parents (like that comment almost reads as) but rather it comes down to being crafty parents that have come up with ways for Greta to have toys through the house but not have those toys define the house.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Abby Kozel

    “Keeping something not readily accessible automatically makes it special and more fun.” i love that.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Kelly Goldman

    You handled that question beautifully.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Katja@ Shift Ctrl ART

    I agree – no need in justifying that. And you are not alone just fyi ;)

    My son was never that into toys. He very rarely (just because “never” is such a strong word) asks for toys at the store and has very rarely asked for toys or trinkets when he was little. He never liked cars or whatever you are “supposed to like”. It’s just not everybody’s thing I guess. He LOVES to do projects instead. Like paint, draw, fold origami, or cook, or build something. THAT’s his thing (+ media). So his room is pretty minimalist – especially these days because I am in the middle of a makeover, but also otherwise. Oh and I had him cook with me from age 2 as well. He liked to make scrambled eggs. :)

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Cara

    I agree, don’t feel like you have to defend yourself! Greta clearly is a happy child, and it’s clear that you and Chris love her so much! Another thing you are teaching her without surrounding her with a million toys is that you don’t have to have a lot to be happy. My mom was a part-time SAHM when I was growing up and we played outside, inside, created a lot of things and played games – and it is one of the things I value the most in my life. You are giving her WAY better memories and teaching her so much just by being there and letting her learn by doing and not overloading her with toys and TV.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Sarah

    I can’t believe you had to answer a question like that and justify yourselves. You handled that very well! It’s clear from everything you share that Greta is a very happy and much much loved little girl.

  • Amen! I hate that you have to answer to “the perfect parents” and explain all of this. I don’t personally know you but I know without a doubt that you guys are the coolest parents and Greta is so lucky. I think she has plenty of toys and activities to keep her happy. Our parents constantly bring our daughter toys and it’s very overwhelming for me to keep up with and she doesn’t care about most them. Kids don’t need the latest and greatest when they have a fantastic imagination. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Kate

    Kudos to you for this! I apologize to you on behalf of your readers that some jerk lurking behind the “safety” of their computer screen felt the need to call you out like that. I was like Greta as a kid — loved the box more than the toy and was always much happier with paint and Play-Doh under my fingernails than I would be if I was surrounded by a dozen (creepy) half-naked, crazy haired Barbies.

    Someday when I have a kid (or kids) I hope to be able to wrangle all of their “stuff” like you do. Thanks!!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Meagan@Meagan Tells All

    Brinley is on the other side of the little kid spectrum. She loves her doll house. And kitchen. And play food. We joke, but she really is a little borrower. She loves random things and those usually trump the formal toys anyway. She will play with the fake chicken she got at chick fil a instead of her my little pony toys. I’m sick of toys because she gets gifted so much from her generous extended family that it just builds and builds. Giving toys away is our twice a year activity. Greta is perfect. And loved. And you are so in tune with what she needs its not even a question. I applaud the way you handled this post because you showed how organized and smart you are with her toys. You also showed that for a kid to be loved, and entertained, and also for her to grow and learn and thrive, you don’t need Toys R Us in your house. You don’t need millions of stupid crap most parents fall victim to. If only more parents were like you to listen to their child’s needs and what they actually learn and grow from. You’re amazing.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    kamcicle

    i find it so interesting when strangers feel compelled to give advice when they have NO information to go on. any non-lame person would know that they are simply tucked away. what an idiot anonymous is. of course there’s toys. i’m not even a parent and i know that. for the love of all that is holy…i need a drink…

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Kala M.

    It never even crossed my mind that you didn’t have toys hanging around. I guess I was just too focused on the project/design you were posting about. I’m glad to see a parent who knows exactly what her/his child needs/wants and doesn’t go overboard with toys that never get played with. I don’t have children yet but hope that I can follow this same train of thought when I do. This year I saw pictures all over Facebook from friends showing their living room with a Christmas tree surrounded by tons and tons of presents for their one baby/toddler. It seemed a bit outrageous. I’m sure most of the toys were probably touched once and then shoved in a closet. As I’ve gotten older I asked myself why some of us feel we need so many things that we never use.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    MML

    You know your family, you know what is best for your family. I wish I had kept it simple – then I wouldn’t be in the pickle I’m in, with all the toys we have, and that I feel I’m drowning in . . .

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Cara Fulkerson

    Good for you Julia. It really bothers me when people assume since you have a child(ren) your house must look like they run the place. I have all of my sons things tucked away in their own little space for my sanity but also to help him easily clean up after himself. That is important!

    UNfortunately our world is consumed with needed MORE and that’s just not healthy. Kids need to be creative and when you buy them every new “it” toy, they never have that chance to use everyday objects for something creative and different. Nor do they learn to appreciate the little things, in my opinion.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Rebecca @This Nest is Best

    It breaks my heart anytime I see a blogger has to defend their parenting (this happens regularly on Young House Love and good heavens poor Katie Bower on Instagram!), but I guess it will happen since you’re putting so much of your life out there and people can be curious in some cases and plain rude in others.

    As a non-parent, I honestly do appreciate this post as a glimpse into seeing that it is possible to have a kid who has access to plenty of toys without letting said toys take over your home. You’re maintaining a beautiful, well designed home that is also very kid friendly – KUDOS!!!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Jennifer BNHblog

    I agree, you handled this topic with grace and as a fellow blogger, I could take a page from your book. Your home is kid-friendly and lived-in; those are hallmarks of a family that cares about their littlest members. We have a two-year-old and he probably plays with 10% of his toys. Like Greta, he is much more engrossed with participating in adult activities like transferring laundry and mixing cookie batter. Keep on doing what you do!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Anonymous

    Wow I am kinda shocked by all this. I found yesterdays commenter to have compassion and concern. I too love your bolg and your decorating tips, but am also concerned for Greta. No children do not need a toy store full of toys but they do need a safe environment in which to play and explore. I am sorry but Greta doesn’t seem to have either of these. Yes she has toys and yes you spend time with her, but she seems to get into a lot of trouble. You are constantly saying you looked away for a second and she got into the pantry or tore her clothes out of her closet, or like last week lotioned a lamp and threw a paint can. These actions seem dangerous for Greta and just a foretelling of what may come. Many parents have playrooms with a wide variety of toys simply to have a safe place for their children to explore not to indulge.

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Chris Loves Julia

      I definitely read compassion and concern in yesterday’s comment. So much that I felt it needed an entire post dedicated to a response. Greta is at an age where she gets into a lot of things. She just turned three!! It is an interesting, new, and at times difficult age–but I don’t think she is in any more danger than the average three year old. I promise you she isn’t. She is wildly curious, but we have child-proof locks on all of the bedrooms besides her own, the front door and even the pantry. We don’t have ceramic figurines or breakable decorative items in her reach. The cleaning supplies are locked up. Do I take bathroom breaks? Yes. Do I occasionally forget to close the pantry or our bedroom door–yes. It is impossible to be watching her every move 100% of the time, but you might be surprised that I do 98% of the time. We’d rather make the common places in our home (the living room, family room and even kitchen!) an area for her to explore and play rather than cooped up in one room. But just as every child is different, every parent is different, too.

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Anonymous

      You’re right, they should just make her a playroom with padded walls and give her plastic toys with no sharp edges and lock her in the ‘safe’ room. I mean clearly something must be wrong with their parenting if their child acts like any other child and get into mischief. I think you should contact child services just to make sure they’re not abusing her by making her play in common living areas and not in a designated playroom. Poor kid.

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Jena

      Julia, you’re awesome. Don’t let the harsh criticism get to you. Greta is so lucky to have parents like you and Chris.

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Rydog

      I am a little tired of people who leave negative anonymous comments. They don’t have the courage to put a face to their opinion and do exactly what another commenter said; “hide.” Obviously a public blog can be an open forum for people to express opinions, but when those opinions are based on a VERY narrow scope of someone else’s life, then those opinions can lack a great deal of substance. Talking about a three-year-old that doesn’t get into trouble or mischief is probably the most absurd thing I have ever heard. There are obviously different styles of parenting, but to dismiss someone’s parenting that you don’t even know because it doesn’t match a more neurotic form seems arrogant and callous. Especially when that opinion is based on, at most, a glimpse of that family’s everyday life.

      I happen to know this family pretty well and can vouch for the kind of loving caring parents they are. Obviously it touches on a personal note for me, but if you have something negative to say please at least have the courage to let the recipient of those comments know who you are.

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      IomayCG

      Yikes and WOW! To imply that your child isn’t safe because your house isn’t littered with toys or because you don’t have the “expected” toys is crazy! My child has a toy kitchen and some of those expected toys (thanks to nana) and she still gets into little messes. Having a toddler is full of fun, nutty adventures and some not-so-fun moments.

      Never crossed my mind that you were anything but a loving and nurturing parent.

    • Reply February 20, 2013

      kamcicle

      anonymous, what blog are you reading exactly? and what three year old do you know who doesn’t get into trouble? you obviously should be teaching parenting classes.

    • Reply April 24, 2013

      wilma

      hahahaha…really???? what two-three year old DOESN’T get into this kind of mischief? My children have spread cereal all over the house, coloured up a table, spills who-knows-what, gotten into the garbage (that was great, because I had a whole bunch of coffee grinds in there), taken apart their drawers, spilled water all over the bathroom out of the tub–and this all took SECONDS, literally seconds. Small children are feral, wonderful little beings who want to explore and do crazy things. And children DO NOT NEED tons of toys. When I was a child, my brother and I shared one laundry bin full of toys, and my mother thought that was a lot, and guess what? It was! We spent so much time reading and outside and playing with each other–we didn’t need tons of toys. And throughout history, and in most of the world, Greta, in comparison, would have tons more toys than most kids. And we all turn out fine. I simply cannot believe that people can equate the number of toys a child has, or how much innocent trouble they cause, with how “good” their parents are. Seriously, I’m somewhat irate. (ok, end rant).

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Anonymous

    I have really been questioning whether I want to continue reading blogs and I think this post has helped me decide that I don’t. I see no reason for anyone to judge others like this, but on the other hand, can’t help but wonder if bloggers inadvertently open the door for this type of judgment when they share so much. I’m sure it is difficult to know where to draw the line. But when you let people in, maybe this is the result? I’m thinking out loud here so I may change my mind. But for now, this is where I’m leaning. Best to you and your family.

    • Reply February 19, 2013

      Chris Loves Julia

      There is definitely criticism that comes with blogging openly about home life, but we have gained so many more friends than critics–and we have never been shy of a critique either–so the occasional snark doesn’t really get to us. Sorry to hear you are thinking about turning the lights off on blogs. There are so many good ones out there.

    • Reply February 20, 2013

      kamcicle

      why doesn’t the reader draw the line? why doesn’t the reader know that their opinion doesn’t need to be shared? and that if they’d like to share it, they can start their own blog? you’re blaming someone you don’t know for something they didn’t do. the marcums show home improvement projects and tiny pieces of their non-DIY related lives with us. how assuming are you that you think you know someone by reading how to make a curtain? just becasue there’s a kid in the picture? or a toy? you said “but on the other hand, can’t help but wonder if bloggers inadvertently open the door for this type of judgment when they share so much. I’m sure it is difficult to know where to draw the line. But when you let people in, maybe this is the result?” you have placed no responsibility on the reader in this scenario, when it’s clear to anyone with a brain that we don’t have all the information, and for good reason. BECAUSE IT’S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS. in this case, the reader should have kept their mouths shut. and unless this blogger posts pictures of a three year old runnin’ around naked with a gun, i’m pretty sure there’s no real reason to be concerned for her safety or well-being.

      telling a blogger that being open means being deserving of judgement (especially when there is clearly no evidence of foul play) is like telling a rape victim that she shouldn’t have worn a short skirt. stupid logic right there.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Anonymous

    My kiddos have HUNDREDS of toys….and they still get into things. It is of their nature! Wow, judgemental!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Lorilyn Crum

    Hah people are so weird! It’s like, just come out and say it you think I’m a bad mother because it appears that there are not enough toys around. I like to think back to the olden days, kids had like one toy and that was it – it’s not a form of child abuse not to provide your kid with the latest plastic crap from China.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    K

    This reminds me when I wrote into Apartment Therapy about decorating advice for a room we were preparing for our foster children and instead got a TON of parenting advice.

    You were very generous in your response to this commenter. Your little girl seems spirited and fun and creative. While it may leave you cleaning up pink paint when she is three, I am sure there are amazing things to come for that girl. Keep doing what you are doing, Julia!

    P.S. None of our kids have ever had as much interest in the play kitchen as they do in the real kitchen.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Leah

    Hats off to you, Julia. I think you are a fabulous mom.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Kim @ Yellow Brick Home

    Wow, you do such a great job hiding your toys! When our upstairs neighbors had their first child, we would joke, “oh my gosh, where are all the toys going to go?! In this tiny home?!” Of course, they joked along with us, and they had great storage solutions set up.

    It’s encouraging to know that there are solutions out there – that is, should we ever decide to have kids! (Because goodness knows, I didn’t have a billion toys either. Just paint and some brushes!)

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Alyssa Siegele

    Such an awesome tent! I’m really envious of your ability to keep everything organized for her and for a beautiful home — I find that’s almost impossible to do for my and my guy, and we’re adults! Plus when everything looks neat, everyone’s a little happier and less stressed.

    As a kid, I was kind of similar to what you described. In warm months I was in the yard with the sprinkler on or riding my bike all over, and I was with my mom using the cookie cutters for sugar cookies or rolling dough for pizza (and to this day love cooking). It’s ALL about whatever your kids want to spend their time doing, and sometimes expensive plastic toys don’t pique their interest.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Rachel

    Agreed! We keep their toys put away and bring out a few at a time so they are always fresh and new. It helps prevent boredom and helps you realize, hey, we have plenty. Also, and no offense to those who don’t prioritize housekeeping, a clean and orderly house does not a suffering toddler make!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Amanda

    shall we all share our stories about crazy things we did when we were kids and still turned out to be productive members of society? I “painted” a carpet with honey when I was a toddler and now am a wife and mother and work as a librarian. my brother, reaching for a candy cane, fell into the christmas tree, knocked it over and scraped up his face–he is now a husband, father and doctor. my uncle found my grandpa’s marine sword and cut the neighbor’s hose in half, he is now a happy family man and high school teacher. I’m sure folks shared stories like this the other day too when greta spilled the paint, but seriously, most kids have at least a couple of “those” stories! love your toy storage solutions–thanks for the post!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Collette

    I think it is funny that people are worried about how you are raising your child!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Angela

    I’m sure for this one comment, you get plenty of others concern-criticizing you, so I admire the grace it must take to deal with all of that. I’m guessing the “alarm” is coming from the neutral palette (with the exception of the studio. MY FAVORITE!) you have in your home and how clean it is. So maybe you should take it as a compliment? You can definitely take this as a compliment: I love how gender neutral Greta’s toys are. I loved seeing blocks, trains, and trucks amongst the other girlier toys. It so great that she gets to pursue what interests her in an open environment.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Andrea Peterson

    I loved seeing your storage solutions!! I also love that as adults with kids, your house isn’t ruled by a mess of toys. Hopefully, I can manage the same when we have kids. And I really, really love how creative you encourage Greta to be, what a lucky girl to be able to paint her own art just like a real artist :)

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Lisa

    Holy cow… I’m half appalled and half tickled by your commenter. It is hilarious that someone who ready your blog would know everything that happens around your house. I’m also appalled that someone who reads your blog would think that they know everything that happens around your house! As a fellow blogger, I know all too well – I don’t share every detail about my kids and I certainly don’t photograph the parts of the house that are a disaster at that point in time! And to read the comments about people being concerned for Greta becasue she gets into trouble? Have they never had children? I’m glad you had tact when answering the concern, but I, on the other hand don’t need to keep it quite as civil…

    Seriously, folks – parent your own damned children and stop worrying about everyone elses. Don’t judge on the small slice of reality that you read about or see.

    I think you are doing an awesome job – from my vantage point. :) Keep up the great work, art, blog, house, etc! Rock on with your bad selves!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Jessie

    Who would have thought a post about Greta’s toys would have set off so many interesting comments! I think you have handled them wonderfully-with so much grace! Keep up the good work!! I love your blog, and I feel like we’ve become friends, even though (unfortunately) we’ve never met! Oh, and I think the way you’ve stored Greta’s toys is awesome! :)

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Anonymous

    Not sure where the snarky comments are coming from. Each child is different and our kids also only wanted to be with us and use the things we did. We don’t have a lot of breakables, but my parents do and I was always worried when they babysat. My mom didn’t worry. She said kids need to learn how to live/play in others’ houses and they did. My (second born) daughter doesn’t have nearly as many toys as her older brother and she is fine and well-adjusted as Greta seems to be – maybe even more so when I compare to other kids. I agree with Angela that I think most of the people are just jealous as to how you can keep your home looking so nice with a place for everything and have to make themselves feel better by pointing out that your parenting skills may not be all they could be. Congrats to you for dealing with them so well. I am a new reader and enjoy your blog so I hope this doesn’t sour you on posting about these types of topics. :)

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    IomayCG

    I wanted to add that I’m totally jealous of your brilliant storage solutions. My facebook status this weekend was “Next house has to have a playroom on the main floor. I love my child but I detest sharing my living space with toys.

    There has got to be a support group for this!”

    I’m going to go around the house looking for ways I can steal storage/organization ideas!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Anonymous

    Julia, keep up the great work. You have handled this so tactfully.

    Sorry you had to deal with such outlandish comments

    P.s. you have a beautiful home, thanks for sharing with us!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    brandilyn

    joony has one little (really, it’s tiny!) basket of toys and that’s it. i’ve gotten a few comments (in real life, not on my blog!) about his lack of toys, but truly, he never seems bored. i think there is so much hype around how much STUFF kids need that people forget how nutso the imaginations of little ones are. joons is just as happy if i hand him a wooden spoon and a spatula as he is with sophie the $20 freakin giraffe.

    also, i know some people whose houses look like a tornado went through them 100% of the time. their kids OWN the house and the parents almost act like they can’t be bothered to clean up. i think it’s great that greta has her toys, but also doesn’t constantly have them strewn about.

    anyways, i just scrolled up and HOLY WOW crazy comments. sometimes blogging is such a crazy ride! luckily, in almost every post i’ve ever seen on the www, there are 20 nice comments for every 1 rude one and faithful/kind readers will always stick up for you when some rudie shows their face (or doesn’t, as the ‘anonymous’ case may be)

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Jenny

    Your daughter sounds just like my son (he will be three in 6 weeks). He just doesn’t do toys much. He LOVES real things and activities that are happening in the household. It sounds like she has just the right amount of toys to me!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    katrina

    wow at these ridiculous anonymous commenters!! i clicked through to this post from my reader because i wanted to say how great you guys seem!!

    i love that you keep greta’s room just for sleeping… i suck at sleeping and that’s one of the first things that people recommended to me. you guys are proactive and already encouraging good sleep routines and i think that is awesome.

    plus it looks like greta has plenty of toys and nice parents that play with her and that is much better than loads of toys and no attention.

    <3 thanks for sharing your life with us.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Kara

    I admire you for not giving into the hype of all the toys kids seem to have. My 3.5 year old had 2 toy boxes full and seemed to be bored. We eliminated about a third (donated them) and divided the rest between upstairs and downstairs and it has really seemed to help. He’s more interested in the things he has because he isn’t overwhelmed by all the options and all the pieces.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Angela

    I had to come out of hiding to comment on this one! I love the fact that you don’t have so many toys! Most of the time, kids have way more than they actually need to be entertained and challenged. In fact, I think it’s better for kids to have fewer toys so that they’re forced to use their own imagination. Being able to have them all clearly organized and hidden means that you have just enough and not too much. Love it.

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Jenna at Homeslice

    It sounds like you’ve got some criticism about all this- I’m sorry for that! It sounds like you all are wonderful parents… I’m sure Greta has all she needs to be happy!

  • Reply February 19, 2013

    Patty

    Uh… if you were taking a picture of your house to put on the Internet, wouldn’t YOU clean up?

  • Reply February 20, 2013

    sunshineandsalads

    Yay! Kids don’t need loads of things to be happy. Love your beautiful storage for those toys. And, I LOVE that Greta is helping in the kitchen already.

  • Reply February 20, 2013

    Emily

    It’s so nice to see a house that ISN’T overrun by toys. Where children clean up after themselves! I myself am childless, but am always amazed at when I visit those with little ones those children have a million toys strewn about! I just don’t understand why they need so many things. What happened to kids being creative, AND picking up after themselves. You seem to have this figured out very well, and it’s nice to see a mom who is teaching her little one manners and life skills.

  • Reply February 20, 2013

    Emily

    And just a post script: If I were taking pictures of my house for a blog and I DID have toys all over the place, I’d certainly move them out of the shot for the photo. Not everything needs to be on display for the entire world!

  • Reply February 20, 2013

    Andrea

    You have done yourself a favor by not giving Greta an excessive amount of toys. I have four daughters, and I feel like I am drowning in toys much of the time. It sucks up a lot of our time and money with all the storing, organizing and picking up. While my husband and I buy them minimal toys and only for birthdays/Christmas, their grandparents buy them tons of toys (despite our protests). We are moving soon, and I am using that as an opportunity to get rid of a lot of toys.

  • Reply February 20, 2013

    Anonymous

    It looks like she has plenty of toys and I don’t understand why having a kid means you have to have toys everywhere! To me, it seems like a hazard to have toys scattered all over the house.

    I love your blog and your organization tips from this post. Don’t let the negative people get you down – there will always be people who feel like they have to judge and rain on your parade.

  • Reply February 20, 2013

    Anonymous

    Hi! This is my first time commenting- on any blog actually. I just feel that strongly about this post :) LOVE IT! I love seeing how other people tackle toy storage, which I think a lot of families always struggle with. Also, I applaud you for having less, but more quality toys. This actually ENSURES little ones don’t get bored. It seems counter-intuitive, but less toys= equal more play. Kids will actually play and love each toy, instead of being overwhelmed by all the choices. And it encourages kids creativity and imagination, which I think is SO important, and many kids nowaday lack that. Love your blog, keep doing what is right for YOUR family :)

  • Reply February 22, 2013

    Anonymous

    Too bad you had to demonstrate your child’s playthings. Kudos to you for letting her work in the _real_ kitchen preparing _real_ food. Even small children can help there, and they feel included if they are really involved in making the household work. Children want to imitate adults in everything: cooking, cleaning, tidying. Better to use the real things than pale imitations.

  • Reply February 24, 2013

    Jennifer

    I just stumbled upon your lovely blog and had to add a comment… As the mother of a 7-year-old, I have frequently felt disgusted by all of the junky plastic toys that we have accumulated over the years. I now realize that what seemed to be a crucial purchase at the time was actually completely unnecessary since she only regularly played with a few favorites. Another point: A house being overrun with toys is a fairly modern phenomenon. Children used to receive one treasured toy for Christmas, or save up for a special handmade item rather than a ton of cheap plastic from Walmart. Kudos to you for keeping things simple.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    makingitmine

    I have a one year old who I thought had to many toys ( a ride toy, a push toy and two baskets of toys (one in the living room one in the bedroom,along with many books). My husband and think this is plenty! It hasn’t been until more recently when I’ve gone to a few other peoples houses with kids that I realized just how many toys most kids have. It’s insane. They probably think our son is neglected.

  • Reply March 1, 2013

    Becky

    I have to admire you for your very organized house, but also your very diplomatic response to what I would feel to be a very offensive post. I would never dream of questioning someone elses choices regarding their child. I think it reflects on the person making the comment. It seems the more toys a child has, the less time the parent will interact with them. Obviously, you have a wonderful daughter who is being well raised.

  • Reply September 22, 2013

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