After a long day of going from a doctor’s appointment to the grocery store and several other errands, I returned home to toys all over the floor, on both levels of my house. Any other day this may not have bothered me as much, I have three kids, they have grandparents, aunts, and uncles who love to buy, but on this day, I was overwhelmed. Mentally I was exhausted. I knew my husband would clean up eventually, but the toy tornado was unsettling, unnerving. I knew a simple clean-up was not going to be enough, it was time to declutter, simplify, let go and give some things away.
I called my 6, 4, and 1-year-old downstairs to start the process. Six and Four began to fuss and whine about cleaning up and begged for help, I thought “if the kids are overwhelmed then something definitely needs to change.” This was the beginning of my journey towards decluttering and eventually minimalism.
Now, I am not a huge fan of the label minimalism because of the connotation it brings. My home is not full of white space. I am not planning to live with so few possessions that my home looks, well, sterile. I want to keep the things that we truly value, the things that bring joy, and that we use. Just like with any term or label, we have to make it work for us, so my minimalism will look different from others.
After the kids went to bed, I quietly entered their playroom and began dumping the noisemakers, broken toys, battery-operated things, and those annoying tiny toys into brown bags. I put the bags in the garage for a few weeks just to see if any of the toys would be missed, to my surprise they were not, so they were donated.
Overall, our playroom is an area for learning, exploration, imagination, and adventure. I do not want to rob my children of that sort of growth. I am teaching them to keep their toys in their space as much as possible. We needed better rules or playroom expectations to keep a well-functioning, happy home. After a discussion, we came up with some agreements.
One of the agreements was that a mess is okay. Life can be messy, we just have to learn how to clean it up. When the mess overwhelms or causes me to feel anxious, we agreed to just close the door.
In the most recent weeks, I have noticed that my kids are playing better together, clean-up is faster, and we don’t have as many toys laying around the house (of course the one-year-old pretty much does his own thing, the house is his playground). When I walk past the playroom and I start to feel like they have too much stuff, I close the door and keep it moving. After all, play is their work so when necessary I have to close their office door.