A couple of weeks ago my friend Keely alerted me to Project Simplify. It is organized by the author of this book that I have mentioned once before. Pretty much anything with the words “simple,” “simplify”, or “simplicity” beckon me to read more, so I was a total sucker for this endeavor.
And it is my first little blog link-up doohicky. So that’s exciting too.
This week I took a running start and tackled the hell out of the kids’ clothes and toys.
I started with the clothes. As I mentioned once before, the idea of paring down my kids’ clothes has been on my mind…well…always. But especially since realizing how much it clogs up my laundry flow. Seriously, I can’t get my laundry zen on when I am unable to stuff the extra seventeen pairs of toddler socks back into the drawer. The drawer that already holds seventeen pairs.
So this week I went through the kids clothes for perhaps the hundredth time, pulling out things they don’t wear and the things they wear but I don’t like. My daughter’s sock, underwear, and pajama drawer were a real sight. How many footie pajamas does one three year old need? We pulled out the pairs that are on the edge of too small (three pairs), that she doesn’t like and wants to give to someone else (two pairs), and kept the ones the will fit her easily for the rest of the season and that she likes. That left four pajamas in her drawer.
Here’s what else I got rid of by the boatload: socks. As I was sorting through a bucket of little pastel-colored socks, I realized how much easier it is for me when she only has bright, patterned socks. They are easy to pair and it is easy to find the match. Having multiple pairs of light purple socks means that they all get stuffed back in the drawer to be paired together “later”, which never happens. Instead I find the two matching argyle socks and put those on her. Simple. So- probably ten pairs of socks to Goodwill, maybe 15 (yes FIFTEEN) unmatched socks in the trash.
Now I can open and close that drawer with ease.
Next: on to the toy closet. We have one upstairs that the kids have access to, and another big box of toys in an upstairs closet that we keep hidden away for toy rotation purposes.
Yowzas. We have lost small children in that closet before. If you go in, tie a rope to your ankle. I realize nowt that I had already taken several big toys off the floor of our closet when I took this picture. Darn you, eager organizer! This picture could have been so much more horrendous!
My method was simple, and similar to that employed when I cleaned up/out my laundry closet in our old apartment. I started at the top and worked my way down. I tried not to move on until I had organized and purged the heck out of one shelf- then (and only then) did I allow myself to move to the next shelf. I tried to be honest and brutal about toys.
- Do my kids play with it?
- Do we have others very similar to it? Can we get rid of one of the duplicates?
- Are there a million little parts to it? If so, can I figure out a way to keep those parts together so my kids actually play with the toy? Because- show of hands- how many of you have EVER seen your kid play much with that toy that is missing half of the parts?
I filled up one garbage bag with book jackets (no need for those, as far as I’m concerned), books too tattered or ripped to be donated, and odds and ends of garbage. I filled up another two bags with books and toys to donate.
I grouped like toys together- little plastic figures that my kids use to play “family” go in a bag. Little cars and trucks go in another bag. Will it stay like that, day after day? Nope, but it is a good feeling to have a place for everything for those periodic organizing sprees.
A ton of toys went upstairs to the big toy box in the closet. There are less things to play with now, but it is easier to clean up (for them) and they usually don’t play with 700 toys at one time, so why have that many on hand?
The book part of the purge was tough but satisfying. I didn’t realize how many duplicates of books we have! Those were easy to put in the “donate” pile. Tougher ones to part with were the books in perfectly good condition, but that I just don’t like to read that much. I finally got ruthless about it. There are books that my kids bring to me and I just groan- please, not that one! Something about almost any Elmo book irritates me. So Elmo and other “twaddle” (just learned this term) got put in the donate pile. Charlotte Mason, a British educator in the late 1800′s/early 1900′s wrote:
“They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told” (Vol. 2, p. 263).
I can’t say we are only reading “well put, inspiring tales” around here now, but at least I’ve gotten rid of the books that make my skin crawl or make us all a little dumber after reading.
Besides- why read these dreaded books when there are so many good books out there that we can actually enjoy?
Behold the end result:
I won’t get into how much easier picking up for guests can be when we have fewer toys downstairs. Or how much more enjoyable “will you read this book to me” is when I know that I enjoy all the books we have on hand. Or how my laundry zen has totally rebalanced without all of those pajamas and socks. Or how I sort of wish I had taken that stroller out for an even calmer “after” shot (that would have been dishonest, but I was still tempted).
Next up: Kitchen and pantry!