The Gone-with-the-Wind-Count is now up to 290 items. I have earned myself almost 5 additional minutes of writing time, and I can already feel simplicity slipping into my life. My focus this week was on my kids' rooms. We've really been struggling in the morning, as their "upstairs chores" are making their beds, getting dressed, grooming, and straightening their rooms. The problem was that they felt overwhelmed with a task that had reached epic proportions. I may as well have said, "Clean out this landfill before breakfast." Indeed, they were responsible for the mess, but looking at it all at once, they could not fathom where to start. Unless, I sat there and directed the entire task, it was not getting done; and I know you all will find this hard to believe, but I JUST DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME!
If only cleaning up were the lone dilemma. Once the mess started to creep, it also would effect their ability to imagine and play constructively. They would be surrounded by toys, and play with nothing. They would wrestle and roll and destroy things that were NOT toys. They would pull apart beds, wrap themselves in curtains, or fingerpaint in Shampoo. I was at my wits end, and I decided less stuff, meant less mess, which hopefully meant less chaos. I was going to take them back to little house on the prarie--you know--where little Laura played happily with her one corn husk doll?
I should have done it sooner. I was brutal, and I don't think they even noticed. They were too busy re-discovering things they'd forgotten they had--like it was a second Christmas. I hauled four 13 gallon trashbags out of that warzone, and if Goodwill was a franchise, I could have started my own store. As it was, I threw a few things up on the community website for a dollar apiece, and quite a few disappeared into the neighborhood while I was still dodging dust bunnies.
Did it work? Well, I think so. My 3 and 7 year olds spent an hour and a half outside in the backyard today. They didn't fight or get into things they weren't supposed to, and at supper time, I nearly had to drag them in. Their play things? A box, 2 dixie cups, dirt, a fire engine, and a lady bug.
Perhaps STUFF truly is what chaos is made of!