Last week Thursday my daughter Chloe spent several hours in her little brothers room sorting through toys, organizing, and getting rid of ones that they’ve outgrown. She’s like me – she finds that sorting and organizing a bit therapeutic – there’s the start of the task, the work, and the peace in the outcome. Their room looked fabulous, clean and organized, with absolutely everything in it’s place.
Begin Saturday morning.
I walked into the room to say good morning to Samuel and entered a room that looked perhaps as if it was never cleaned. There were castles, blocks, legos, imaginext guys (which the boys call bad guys), socks (from Elijah’s search for the perfect pair of socks), little people, duplos, just stuff, and books strewn everywhere. Well, everywhere but next to Samuel’s bed as all of those toys were pushed into a pile so that if he fell out of his bed he wouldn’t fall on them.
What in the world happened in here boys?
(Yes, in that moment I forgot the words from days ago in the 60 You Might Be a Mom facts about asking what they made versus asking about the mess.)
Those were the words I blurted out with exasperation on that morning. All of that work. Gone. As I stood there looking in the room I started to think that maybe the problem wasn’t that they weren’t being good stewards of their rooms (and the fact that they are five and three), but rather that their room simply has in it too much stuff in it to manage. It’s hard to keep things clean when you feel like you are bursting from the seams with stuff.
Less is more.
Maybe instead of cleaning it and sorting it and organizing it so that every single spot has an item in it I should instead devote time to getting rid of things, purging, and letting go. What am I teaching them anyways by keeping all of that stuff? Am I teaching them that it is good to hold onto things? I want them to be content with less, really. And I truly do believe that they play better with stuff. Somehow in the accumulation of more the ability to be creative and content lessened. Too many options has created lack of focus. And honestly, they’d rather cut up and decorate the large cardboard box that just came from UPS versus play with the piles of 1549 toys. Or at least it feels like that many.
So less is more. That is another one of my new mottos. (It fits with the one from earlier in the week about mom guilt and letting it go.) I’m determined to go through my house and purge the extra. I see it in books, homeschool books, clothes, odd kitchen gadgets, and the overabundance of not nearly played often enough board games. All of the stuff creates clutter in not only space but in one’s mind. I want it to be easy for my boys to clean their room at the end of the day – not an algebraic equation on space solving and improbability in space management.
I’m not sure why it takes so many years to learn this, but it does. Holidays come and go and birthdays and clearance racks and gradually I’m creating a space with too much.
Join me? Join me in creating a less is more home? Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing some of my decluttering goals. My goal for the next month is to decrease what is in this home by a good 30%. All of the more, the excess, can zap at joy and take energy and makes me the mom who bursts in a room complaining. I’m going to create more – more space, more time, more positive energy – with less. The thing is – I don’t want to complain about a home that is full of stuff and the work it takes to clean it. All of the stuff is really blessings – easy to forget – so instead I want to manage it well, be grateful, give away, and be wise.
Creating more with less.
One room, one shelf, one garage (ackk – don’t get me started there) at a time.
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Amen, sista! Really enjoyed this post. We just recently sold our house and have moved to a lease home while we determine where we’ll buy and/or build our next home. So this idea of purging and clearing out “stuff” that we don’t really need has been on the forefront of my mind these past few weeks. It feels really good to clear out all those things that we no longer need or use. It’s refreshing for the soul. I look forward to reading more of your posts and tips on this topic.
I just did this same task this past weekend as I prepared to sell items at a children’s consignment sale. The one thing I do each year at the end of the school year is I take and photograph all of my children’s artwork that they bring home. Then I let the kids pick 5 of their favorite items and we keep them in their art portfolio. The rest gets thrown away and I make an online photobook of all the artwork that I took pictures of. Then I order the book and still have a way to look back at all their work without all the clutter.
I *just* dug out the play room three weeks ago. Matt took the kids to the community center to play on the basketball courts, and when they came back, 70% of their stuff was GONE. I expected to hear, “Where’s my ___?” but my oldest (6) walked into the room and sat down and said, “Thanks, mom. It’s so nice in here now.” All I kept was blocks, legos, 10 or so stuffed animals, play silks, the dress up bin, toy cars, and a few of their play kitchen utensils. Everything else was gone. Cleanup now takes 3-4 minutes and my kids are playing make believe again, rather than complaining that they don’t have “a piece of wooden food shaped like a ___.” They’ve stopped packing bags full of toys and scattering them around the house. Life is sane.
You can do this, Rachel. It’s so much better on the other side!
Yes, yes! I’m on board! And Renee, fabulous tip for the artwork — I have piles of the stuff and cringe when I look at it, feel guilty when it goes in the trash, and just hope I’m not sorry later. So, thank you!
Rachel as always your words lift me up…. I too have come to the end of the line with “stuff” I have begun to purge & organize I know there is precious light @ the end of this tunnel when the “stuff” begins to dictate our moods, responses to our children, or even monopolizes and takes priority over the (what’s really important) it’s time for it to go… Looking forward to breathing easier
Same thing happened to me yesterday! Beds torn apart, a wooden plank between them, toys and sheets EVERYWHERE after I’d spent 4 hours cleaning and organizing the boys’ bedroom. After a VERY deep breath, I thought, now they can find what they need to create this magical space, and I plopped down with them as they navigated shark infested waters under their pirate ship.
“Simplicity Parenting” is a book I highly recommend and is right in line with your thoughts on simplifying! Have you heard of it?
Aliena (Vermont Mama)
I love this and must admit I am not a keeper of anything nor is my hubby thank goodness, so we work well together. We as a family have always kept “clutter” to a minimum. Our kids have been really great about giving away or dontating. IF it is not being played with or used for 6 months, out it goes. Everything has a place in the house. Of course the important things that mean something special have special boxes or folders for them…Same goes for the house, we must have the cleanest garage in the neighborhood, we keep nothing and clean it all the time. Less is for sure much more, just enjoying things in small doses makes us mentally happier (no clutter) and makes us appreciate what we do have. 🙂
You’ve timed this post perfectly!
I’m taking on our over-stuffed storage room this month. I look forward to seeing your progress and gaining inspiration and encouragement from you and your readers.
Oooh, I am DEFINITELY looking forward to this new little series(?) of yours! 🙂
I appreciate this as well! On fb, there’s a group that I joined in the fall, via a bowl full of lemons blog, called home organization 101 and it took each area of your house, one per week. I think it was 13 weeks, but you could go at your own pace. It was super helpful, inspired me to simplify and declutter as you shared you would like to. Blessings to you as you strive to create less clutter and more simplicity. I’ve been reading your blog for many months now and always look forward to the next one!
I try to declutter at least once a week. I’m always amazed at how much stuff finds its way into my home. I’ll be following along.
I purge often too, usually when I feel panicked and almost suffocated by the “stuff,” and we’ve actually been good about keep itout, but it still seems to multiply! I’ve recently discovered the book “Simplicity Parenting.” It is right in line with the goal of this post and I think you’d find it encouraging and helpful. I’ll definitely be following along and joining you! Good luck! (To us both)
I am in. I NEED this to be done and you my dear friend, I am going to follow you. Thank You 🙂
Should be at the point where there’s less around here…but now there’s a growing volume of kids toys…which my husband keeps adding to! Oh well…
So thankful for these amazing words of comfort! Praying!
Job 19:25-27 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
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I soooo need to declutter. We live in a small 2 bedroom townhouse with 5 of us. Toys and everything else is everywhere. I started with clothes recently, thanks to a donation fundraiser at my kids’ school…I am up to 6 or so garbage bags full. Toys definitely need to be gone through but that is a real hard one for me.
decluttering is a consnt task for me….I feel so much richer and lighter with less. As much as I focus on it, I still always feel there is more to organize, pare down, or make simpler. Good luck as you post your goals!
I love this post just commented on another one 🙂 such a wonderful blog question how do we let family members know not to keep buying toys? Without hurting them or sounding mean? Thanks