Simplification

Friday and today have been dedicated to The Purge, where I have eviscerated my own collections of clothes and books and, for most of today, my children’s toys.

This weeding of playthings happens on a fairly regular basis, almost seasonally, and one would think this meant my children would have a very modest assortment of toys. One would be wrong. They breed, these toys, and it doesn’t seem to matter what kind of toys I or others give them. They could be lovely, handcrafted, wooden goodies or they could be cheapo plastic trinkets from Happy Meals – they multiply and drive me insane.

But today, today I vowed that this issue would be no more, or at least not as vicious as it has been in the past. Have I made this vow before? Well, yes, but this time I really mean it. And the difference between this time and the last (and the one before that, and the one before that…), is that every last one of the toys they have left has its own spot. No more are we haphazardly dropping things into a basket or bag (unless it’s one of multiples, such as M.’s magnetic blocks or E.’s numerous dolls). Everything has a spot and everything must be returned to it’s spot when play is completed. I feel like this “everything has a spot” concept is going to work well. Fingers crossed.

E. and M. were gone for most of the day, so when they came home, they noticed the change immediately, and were pleased.

“We can see all our toys!” M. told me.

“Everything looks so beautiful!” E. was quick to say.

There’s nothing quite like small children for instant gratification when you clean.

One of my favorite parenting books is Simplicity Parenting by Kim Jon Payne. The biggest thing that has stuck with me from the book was how children will play more and be more engaged if they have fewer toys. M. sort of encapsulated this with his, “We can see all our toys!” comment. They can see what they have and more easily make a choice in what to play with, rather than becoming overwhelmed and then claiming boredom. Kids don’t need loads and loads of things to entertain themselves, as any parent knows if they’ve watched their children entertain themselves with empty boxes and sticks far longer than anyone would have anticipated.

As I go through paring down my own belongings and now at least a few (trash bags worth) of my children’s, my goal, I’m realizing, is to just simplify my life a bit more. If you know me or have followed this blog a bit, you might know that I’ve got a bit on my plate. Simplification has become necessary to my survival at this point. I don’t have time to fuss around with everyone’s junk. I’ve got a life to live, for goodness sake!

I’ve had this idea of simplifying my life rattling around for a little while now. Initially, it might have been a one off kind of deal; I’m into it for a little while and then I drop it as I turn back to my old ways and the desire to have more and be more (whatever that means). As it turns out, I really am interested in simplifying my life and that drive to have “stuff” and materially present to the world in a certain way is starting to dissipate. Are there moments where I still very much want particular (“luxury”, over-priced, albeit beautiful) things? Oh, gosh yes. But those moments are coming at longer and longer intervals and that craving is lasting for shorter and shorter periods of time.

I’m dreaming now of chicken coops and baby chicks (literally dreamt of this just last night) instead of Chanel bags and swanky hotel stays. I’m wondering about how many more clothes I can eliminate from my drawers rather than perusing the online aisles of various clothing stores. There are still things I want, but they serve a practical, spiritual, or creative purpose. As I slow down and stop bringing so much stuff into my home and begin to move quite a bit out, I realize that if I do choose to purchase something, I want it to have a purpose and add to my family’s quality of life.

It’s interesting how these big ideas grow from such small acts. I’ve often found my whole world changes when I do the smallest of things.

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