Good-bye clutter, i will not miss you

The other day i was visiting with a friend for a playdate. Her kids’ bedrooms were so clean and peaceful. It was pretty much just their bed and maybe a couple more items(bookshelf, basket,…). The toys were neatly stored in the closet, not too many, not too little. There is no way i would be able to fit all my kids toys in a closet. Every empty wall space along my kids walls are covered with a tub, basket, toybox, or something holding overflowing toys. I loved the peaceful simplicity of my friend’s home. Totally not how i often feel in my home with endless piles of papers and toys coming out my ears. Seriously why does it seem like i am helping them clean their room daily, and not just a quick five minute cleanup but like an hour ordeal.

The realization that something had to change was the day we got the kids carpet cleaned. I had forgot that the carpet guy was going to be here at 10. It was 9 and i was panicking cause their room was a train wreck as normal. So I began just putting toys(that were on the floor) in laundry baskets and then stashing them in my bedroom. I moved everything out of their room except the beds and dressers so they could clean. My bedroom was so cluttered with their junk. I found myself asking, “How did this happen? Why do they have so much?” I have really tried to not spoil my kids but keep things simple. Like for Christmas they received their stocking and 2 gifts from us. They are very blessed and receive gifts from many people. So i guess i took comfort in knowing this was not all my fault. =) I have always strived to have my kids be more of a giver than a consumer. But i decided something needs to change. So I went through the toys and we cleared out 3 tubs of clothes and toys!! Much of it i did not ask for their permission. I knew what they played with regularly and what never gets touched. An incentive for Hannah or Joy not to pull things items back out of these get-rid of bins, they are going to have a yard sale in 2 weeks. I usually donate it but Hannah is super excited to have a yard sale and is even having a competition with neighbor kids on who can sell the most stuff.
Some things I hope to do to limit the amount of stuff in our home:
1. Enforce the in and out rule. Ex: If you receive 7 toys for your birthday then you must find 7 toys that you want to give away in order to make room for new ones. Same concept with clothes. I want to do this with all of us. I do this with my clothes. I no longer want to buy more hangers. If i need a hanger for a new shirt then i am going to have to donate one to make room.
2. Try to limit what comes into the house. Once a toy reaches their hands it is like an emotional attachment then and there. Even if they have not played with it in months, “But mommy i love ……”. I have been to birthday parties where they ask for no presents, sounds good because I know best what they would like. But instead let guests bring a book to donate to hospital or something like that if we did gifts at all. Of course we would still give them a few parent birthday gifts but not over do it.
3. Continually purge. I am always on the look out for stuff we just do not use or play with.
This recent clean sweep of their room has been awesome. Their room is more restful and actually fun to be in because it is not crowded with junk. Hannah even said, “I love my new room. It feels more like home.” Jeremy jokingly said(but truth to it), “This brings some peace to my chaotic life. It is like all is well. ” =) Those comments are great motivators to keep working on de-cluttering my home and keeping it that way.
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