We devoted many hours this weekend to decluttering, organizing, and getting rid of stuff, all for the sake of bringing more peace to our home, more borders between our stuff and ourselves. What this looked like practically was me gathering random tiny pieces of things (why are kid toys in so many small pieces??) from one room and putting them in a basket, and then wandering around the rest of the house putting those @#!*% tiny things back where they belong. Some of these random small things ended up in a trash bag, which I made the mistake of putting down at one point. Then a certain 4-year-old discovered the bag of “treasures” and some of the small things came back into circulation. After that I hid the trash/treasure bag.
Only while cleaning up did I realize how much stuff had taken over some areas of our home. Every nook and cranny was filled to overflowing. It’s not like I set out to live a borderline hoarders existence; it just somehow happened in the midst of moving, sorting, rearranging rooms, remodeling, and settling into our new home. Apparently if you don’t keep a close eye on it, stuff develops a life of its own and takes over.
We’re not done yet, but as I walk around some areas of our house now I literally feel like I can breathe better. Like creating negative space on our shelves has infused those areas with a little extra oxygen.
|the former leaning tower of randomness (before)|
I can function pretty well in a chaotic environment (you should have seen my college dorm room), but I’m learning that I’d prefer not to. I’d also prefer to have our kids learn to take care of their things, which they can’t do if they have too much stuff.
|Eden's room after (before)|
There’s some sort of tipping point where the kids’ toys become equivalent to carpet in their eyes. Once the number of puzzle pieces and play food and books and matchbox cars and blocks spread out all over the house reaches this point, my children cease to be creative artists and engineers and learners and instead become bulldozers and destroyers and fighters. They need negative space too, in order to engage with their toys in constructive ways.
I’m hoping that a little extra space on our shelves and in our rooms leads to time leftover for other things – that placing a border around our stuff creates a line that says, “you can take this much of my time and attention, my care and my energy, but no more.” And I’m looking forward to seeing what new non-stuff can fill in those extra spaces.