Monday, January 17, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!

Ok, not really.  But at my house spring cleaning has sprung at least.  Talking with many of my friends lately, I realized that lots of us get the itch to sort and clean everything and purge clutter from our homes right after Christmas.  I don’t know if it’s trying to find new places for all those new things that inspires it or not.  Maybe its the knowledge that, where we live at least, we are going to be cooped in the house for three or four more months.  We just don’t want to sit in the house and look at it, and it gives us something productive to do during the last of winter.  It’s a lot easier to ignore it in the summer!

I have started going room by room, doing a massive purge.  We purged once before we moved to this house, about 2 1/2 years ago, and we’ve even pared down lots while living here.  But there are just some things we kept holding onto, in case we found a place for it here.  I think this is a good time to go through it.  If we haven’t used an item since we moved here, odds are we don’t need it anyway! I started in the
basement, and am finished the craft room and the guest bedroom.  Now I have a huge pile of boxes that is growing, for a garage sale I plan to have this spring.  I have a couple of pieces of furniture that I need to haul up from downstairs and sell.

Today I am tackling the scariest room of all. THE PLAYROOM.  My kids have too many toys.  We’ve tried a lot of things to manage this room.  We’ve already cut out half the toys.  We’ve rotated boxes.  We have a floor to ceiling shelf system for the bins.  That’s just what’s inside the house, not to mention all the stuff that’s in the yard.  I hate this room.  The kids can’t play in it, because there is so much stuff, there isn’t actually room to play.  Even when the room is cleaned up, they don’t play that much with the toys.  Their favourite thing in the house to play with is whatever recent box daddy drags home for them, or better yet, Daddy himself.  Why bother owning the toys anyway?!?  Most days we go down there, I can’t ignore the mess and just play with the kids.  I begin picking up, and then I get angry at the way they’ve treated the toys, and a fight starts.  It always ends with me upset and yelling at them, and hating the toys even more! 

About a year ago, I finally had the last straw ( or so I’d thought!).  I boxed up every single thing they owned and stacked it all in a storage room.  The basement room, which is roughly 400 square feet, was empty from corner to corner.  I let them each pick one bin, and that was all they had for a week.  They earned back bins one at a time, a week later.  As they earned back a bin, Shawn and I would go through it and pare it down by throwing out whatever was unused or broken in it.  For a while, this made a huge impact on how they tidied their toys.  What stuck me most about the whole experience was how little they missed anything.  They loved simply having the place to run and play.  They enjoyed more time to imagine and pretend.  They didn’t ask for the toys, we had to remind them when it was time for them to earn a new bin.

That memory is inspiration for me today.  I want to give them a big room with space to just BE.  But it’s hard!!!  It strikes me today, as I look at the huge piles of stuff, sorted and yet to go through, how much money is wasted on clutter.  It’s not just mine either.  Up until this last year, my kids were the only grandkids for all of their seven grandparents.  We’ve all enjoyed buying them fun toys, but it really has become too much.  Clutter wastes money in several ways, first and foremost because I have been spending money on things that we don’t really need.  And sometimes, when I couldn’t find the thing I did actually need, I had to go and buy it again.  Hasn’t everyone done that at some point?

Another thing I have been pondering today is why it is so hard for me to part with the kid’s things.  Partly, I am influenced by the fact that my mom never got rid of anything of mine, and I feel like I am supposed to keep all the childhood toys forever.  Also, I think that most of my life, I have seen acquiring things as an accomplishment.  It feels a little like taking a step down on the accomplishment ladder to choose to give up things we have.  But why???  Lately, I have begun to feel like a slave to these things, needing to clean and maintain them takes so much of my time.  I’m tired of this burden! 

Cleaning this room today really has nothing to do with money for me.  Yes I plan to have a garage sale this spring, but that is not the driving reason behind what is becoming self imposed labour camp!  I want to be free of the burden of the junk.  I want to have time and space to enjoy my kids, my husband and my friends.

DSC_0060                                          DSC_0061 DSC_0062  DSC_0065DSC_0064  

Believe it or not, when I took these pictures, I had already been cleaning for over an hour.  Two garbage bags were hauled out, as well as several boxes to garage sale.  And I didn’t start with the messiest state this room could be in!  These pictures actually look pretty good….compared to how it often looks!  I had to stack and pile things, just to be able to walk through and decide what to do with the stuff! I had no spot to start from.

I’m heading back downstairs during nap time to make more headway today.  If no one hears from me by bedtime, maybe send someone to make sure I am not buried under an avalanche of toys? LOL!

In case you're wondering how it turned out... Playroom

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