It may come as no surprise to those who know me that I like to be organized *cough* OCD *cough*. I like to have a place for things, and I like things to be in their place. This has been how I like things since I can remember, and I am willing to take extreme measures to maintain order. The only problem is, for the past 2+ years* there has been a very powerful force challenging my organizational endeavors. Actually, there have been two forces, and they share a bunk bed in one of the bedrooms off the kitchen. Now, it is easy to assume that if I was able to help the boys become as organized as me, the problem would be solved. Right? Make a place for all of their things, and teach them to keep those things in the right place. The barrier to this theory is that as the boys get older, their toys become increasingly harder to organize. The numbers on the boxes of childrens' toys currently look like this: 2+, 3+, 4+, etc. This is fine if all you think about is the age of the child. What those numbers don't tell you is that as the values increase, the number of pieces for that toy exponentially increase as well. In order to illustrate this point, I have created a series of scatter plot graphs that may be helpful for parents wanting to buy new toys for their children. Let me help you interpret these graphs:

  • By "scatter" I mean how far and wide the pieces can be scattered throughout the house
  • The size of the plots is in proportion to the size of the pieces
  • The number of plots is in proportion to the number of pieces

These graphs increase in intensity (and potential parental frustration): Now, isn't this easier to understand? I suggest a graph like this be put on the packaging of childrens' toys rather than those arbitrary numbers. In fact, it wouldn't have to be a graph at all. They could just put the diagram with a warning that says, "This is what your floor will look like after your child is done playing with this toy." I have already crafted a cover letter to all of the toy companies for when I pitch this idea:

November 13, 2011

Dear <<toy company>>,

You're welcome.

Sincerely, Curby Alexander, PhD

* Sam and Nate did not pose a threat to my organization obsession for the first year or more of their lives. When they became mobile, things changed.