I wiped the tears and snot, walked downstairs and finished my day with the kids strong. I knew exactly what I needed to do.
After they went to bed, I got out some trash bags and started what changed my whole life.
I let go of the stuff that didn’t matter.
I started in the playroom. It was full of bins that overflowed with toys – pointless play things my kids never even used.
You know how it goes…
1. You tell the kids to “go play”
2. They wander into the playroom, fussy
3. They dump everything onto the floor
4. They wander out five minutes later, still fussy
5. They are now apparently “starving” and in desperate need of yet another snack
Let’s face it – this room wasn’t serving its purpose, and the clutter it held was costing me a lot of time I didn’t have.
I sat down and worked through each bin and every box, making piles of what was really a great toy that my kids loved and played with often, and what was just taking up space or useless.
I had the thought that if my kids were going to have a minimal amount of toys and only play with some of them, they should be the ones that inspire them to use their imaginations, not the loud annoying toys that light up and do the playing for them.
What I ended up with was a very late night, lots of coffee, and a near-empty playroom.
I kept only the constructive play toys (trains and tracks, wooden blocks) and imaginative toys (my daughter’s baby doll and dress up clothes). It all fit in a few small bins, and everything else got bagged up and taken to the local donation center that week.
I was friggin’ terrified of what my kids’ reaction would be. So the next morning, I poured my coffee, made breakfast, and sent them in the playroom to play as usual. Then I held my breath.
My daughter squealed “Mommy!” and I nearly crapped myself.
But then I heard, “You cleaned up! Oh look! I’ve been searching for this toy…”
And then came the sound of more than TWO HOURS of happy playtime.
For those of you with toddlers (or any kid over the age of two), you know how amazing two hours of uninterrupted playtime is!
I couldn’t believe it.
But then, it stuck! Things kept getting better.
- All of a sudden my kids weren’t wandering into the playroom, only to come out after five minutes whining of boredom. They were going in there and actually playing! For hours!
- I noticed I had so much more free time! I wasn’t spending the bulk of my week picking up toys, so I was able to better manage the rest of the house. At this point I still felt overwhelmed by the piles of laundry and dishes, but I definitely had more time to tackle those things because the kids were busy playing and I wasn’t having to maintain the playroom.
- I noticed my kids’ relationships with each other started getting better. They were playing together, creating imaginary scenarios in the backyard together, and getting along!
I was loving how this one simple change was transforming our kids and our home life, so I decided to keep it going!
I thought about the things that took up most of my time (dishes and laundry were first on the list) and decided to get in there and purge like I did the toys.
I got rid of all the extra dishes aside from our main set (just enough for our family and a couple guests), and donated all the clothes my kids and I owned that didn’t fit, were stained or damaged at all, or just weren’t my favorite.
All of a sudden, I didn’t have to spend my weekend catching up on laundry or spend hours at the kitchen sink.
And guess what happens when you get your home back? It spills over into the other parts of your life.
Yup, these are both me. I simplified my home, which led to simplifying my whole life – calendar, eating and health, relationships… your home is the first step to the life you want, mama!