I had been threatening to do it for several months, but I could tell no one was taking me very seriously. But today, M and B offered to take A, P, TM and D to a movie during K's nap and I finally did it. Well, J and I finally did it...completely empty the little boys' room of all toys, that is. For a year now, that room has been very difficult to keep neat and orderly, much less clean. There was just too much stuff and even if the boys wanted to clean it up, it was just too difficult for them. Heck, I was often overwhelmed with the thought of trying to pick it up. So, I decided the only solution was to limit how much stuff there was to pick up. Don't feel too badly for them; their toys have just migrated to the third floor playroom. (Now that's a scary room at the moment. It's the last room that was affected by the remodelling which I haven't dealt with.) What are the boys left with? They have their dressers, a bin under the bed in which they can store special treasures (their definition, not mine), two dinosaurs each, a pop-up book each, and two baskets of board books for K. I think it's an amount that they can be responsible for. I have to say, it is nice to have the room actually clean. And without the obstacle course all over the floor, it is much easier to vacuum.
I have been on a sorting and purging kick for the past couple of weeks. I hate clutter and just can't think when it's around. It makes me claustrophobic. What with being preoccupied with waiting to bring K home, and then travelling, and then adjusting, things had gotten out of control. So, now I'm going back to my roots, so to speak. Before we lived in this embarrassingly large house, we lived in a small, two-bedroom Victorian. We stayed there until after P was born. (Yes, that makes four children in one bedroom.) It took a lot of creative organization to make it work. But we moved and the space made me lazy. Big houses take a lot longer to get messy than small ones, and I could have all the toys available all the time. But just because they're available doesn't mean they get played with. It's as if the children stop seeing them because they're always there. It worked so much better when I had to rotate toys. Only having a few out at a time and the rest in storage. Then when the novelty wore off, I would bring out some new ones and store the previous ones. It keeps the toys fresh, because they seem like new, and there is a lot less to get strewn about. I've decided that just because I have the space, I don't have to have everything out. I've also done the same thing with our pictures books. We have a small library's worth, but they weren't getting read, just used as stepping stones much of the time. (Even my constant shrieking of "Don't walk on the books!" didn't deter them.) Now we have only one quarter of them out at a time, sorted by season. With each new season, the old ones will be packed away and new ones, for the new season will come out. And they're much easier to store as many fewer bookcases are needed.
I've discovered over the years that I'm a much better mother when I feel the house is somewhat organized. I can relax and enjoy my children instead of constantly being annoyed by the mess I see around me. I've also discovered that organization can only come when I lessen the amount of stuff there is to organize. I'm working on holding onto things lightly. They are only things after all, and my relationships with people are so much more important. I don't want to wake up some day and realize that I spent more time caring for objects than enjoying my children. Anyone need a 6-foot wooden dinosaur?