We recently did an overhaul of my children’s toys. We looked carefully through all of their things, and decided which things were ready to move on to a new home. We talked about making room for the new things that are about to come into our lives at Christmas, and how we needed to make room for them. I gave the children guidance, and reasons for my preference toward good quality, open ended toys. After some discussion, they heartily agreed with my logic.
The boys did an amazing job selecting what to get rid of. Their instincts were spot on, as they were able to be objective about what things they no longer play with, or those with limited possibilities. We still have some plastic toys, and a few battery operated items – the ones I had really wished would disappear! But these are some of their favourite things, and I was not willing to push my own agenda on them.
My children were very willing to clear some room, and it helped generate some excitement about the task to connect it to Christmas. I think we got rid of more than my children will be receiving this year, but I suppose that remains to be seen! At the very least, we’ve created some extra space as we move through December, which brings with it extra decorations and the like.
The space I was not anticipating reclaiming was that of creativity. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming, because I have experience in the idea of ‘less is more.’ In my teacher-librarian training I had a wonderful teacher who demonstrated clearly how clearing your library shelves of the old out-of-date books actually allows the students to see the good books that are there. After weeding (removing old books) from three school libraries, I can attest to the truth in this.
Now that we have less toys in our home, my children are playing more. The simpler toys, and having less of them has seemed to open the door to more creative play. For example, we used to have a big basket of ‘stuff’ that had no other place. That basket also housed our hat collection (used for dress up). It was never used! I suggested getting rid of the hats, but the boys responded by wearing them around for the rest of the day…and week! Now that there aren’t extra things in that basket, and it’s just for dress up, the hats, scarves, binoculars, and magnifying glass get used daily. The creative play that has come out of ‘dress-up” has been incredible. Not only is it imaginative, but my children are playing well together.
With less around, they are able to find more. I equate it to the likes of keeping all of our household tools in one giant box, then trying to do a repair using that pile of tools! Now that my children have fewer things, they don’t have to sift through the mess of all that is jumbled up together. They can find the ‘right tools’ for the job – their play.
After seeing this transformation, I am eager to get at the bookshelves…and my stuff! We are not a household that is bursting at the seams, as this has been a journey of mine for some time now. I find that I go in cycles of wanting to clear out. Each time I do, I’m surprised at how much I’m able to get rid of. Each time I declutter, I’m also letting go of my attachment to things just a little bit more. I have this feeling that similar to what happened with my children, if I am able to clear some more space in our home, more space will be made in our lives, opening up opportunities I couldn’t have dreamt were related or even possible.