|The 'After' view|
Why? Because we spend way too much time maintaining our stuff and in ensuring that our kids maintain theirs, too. I read an article that spoke to the issue of overburdening children with tons of toys and then forcing them to manage and care for it all. That just seems unfair on the kids and a rubbish use of time. I don't just want to supervise my kids. . .I want to ENJOY them.
So, we decided to start in our boy's room. . .it was an intentional decision based on the fact that one of our sons has some special needs and a big old clean out seemed like it would benefit him the most. (He was adopted from the foster care system and his poor little brain was saturated in illegal substances when it was forming. He now struggles with mild autistic/personality disorder issues.) So clearing his space seemed to be a great space to start.
At first, it was overwhelming. The boys had six stacked bins of toys, a very large lidded Legos tub, a stuffed cupboard, a bookshelf and two huge under-bed drawers, also stuffed. There was a large chest of drawers, a small chest of drawers and several shelves and storage options in the closet. All were full to overflowing. Eek.
But we sorted it out into manageable tasks. . .addressing one thing at a time. We spent about four hours going through each and every toy, scrap of paper and book. We went through all their clothes and shoes, too, discarding worn items and setting outgrown ones aside to donate. We removed FOUR large bags of recycling, numerous bags of garbage (mostly made up of broken toys!) and have multiple bags ready for donation.
All 'keeper' toys went down to the family room, which we will attack tomorrow after church. The only thing we have kept in the bedroom is one tub of Legos, which is in the closet, a VERY pared down bookshelf and one under-bed drawer each which ONLY holds sporting equipment (gloves, soccer balls, tennis rackets, etc.).
That. Is. It.
After we were finished, having dusted and vacuumed and cleaned every inch of the room, we stepped back to survey the results. The room looked ten times bigger. It certainly looked ten times cleaner. But it was more than that. . .it was 'lighter.' And I don't mean in the 'brighter' sense. It just felt airier and simpler and less of a burden. It was a wonderful sensation.
We brought our sons in to see what they thought and the reaction was priceless. It was as if Christmas had come twice in one week. They were very happy about the newly enlarged amount of floor space and seemed very pleased with how much easier it was to navigate the drawers and closets. They were positively giddy with LESS.
When it was bedtime, the room took almost no time to tidy and there was no need for reminders nor was there any resistance or fussing at all.
Our special needs son, in particular, seemed distinctly relieved. He didn't express it in so many words, but his emotions were easy to read: "Now this is a room I can manage!"
Can't wait to start on the next room!