I recently received this email from Tara McDonough and had to share!
I just wanted to share an anecdote of what happened yesterday in my deslobification process.
Our family of 4 (+ a 100 lb dog) is moving in the next couple of weeks. We’ll be losing close to 1,000 sq ft of “junk space”! Ahhh!
We each seem to have our “problem spots.” I have the master bedroom. My husband has the garage (which will go from a 2 car down to a 1) and our kids (2 & 4) have their toy room.
So I decided to tackle the toy room with them yesterday. Which is just a toy room and not a play room because it’s 20 ft wall by 12 ft wall of toys with no room to play.
I had ideas of just throwing everything away in their sleep, but I guess that isn’t the nicest thing is it? I dreaded this like the plague! I figured it was going to be an awful tear and tantrum fueled disaster.
So I put on a smile and set out two large plastic bins, two small buckets, and one mesh-wire-hamper-thing (their “containers”). I explained that they each had a plastic bin for the toys that are the most important (that they really truly loved) and once the bin was full that was it. They had a small bucket for their little toys (Hot Wheels and these obnoxiously tiny toys called Shopkins) and the mesh thing for stuffed animals. The rest were going to be donated to other kids who don’t have toys.
Cue the waterworks. Every single thing they picked up was the most important thing EVER! My 4 year old is 30 pounds of drama (I wonder where she gets that from?) so it looked like we were going to be at this forever! But then I realized the joy of the container. It wasn’t my decision, it was the container’s limits. Every time they put something in the bin, I’d remind them that once it’s full, that’s it and if they want to fit something else they’ll have to take something out to make room. So sure, some stupid happy meal toys ended up in the bin while something I thought they liked or I spent money on didn’t, but it was their choice.
As I was bagging up the leftovers I kept thinking of the monetary value of the things I was tossing. I had to remind myself of the value of a peaceful home. Peace is worth far more than the 20 puzzles with pieces that haven’t been put together since they were purchased (what was I thinking?!).
Then something truly amazing happened.
Their bins were about 3/4 full and all of the sudden the drama just stopped. I looked at them and realized they had stopped picking things out of the pile and instead were contently playing with the toys in their bins. It was awe-inspiring. I kept asking if they wanted any more toys to put in their bins and they both happily said no.
The containers worked! Even better than I could have imagined! We’ve gotten rid of the toys they don’t even care about and we were left with a manageable amount that are important to them.
Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement! I really appreciate it!
Here’s the picture of what they kept:
Nony here: Y’all, this made me cry. Such an amazing example of how understanding the container concept makes decluttering easier. It lets the natural limits of a container determine what can be kept. Those limits aren’t personal, they’re just there!
Other posts (and podcasts) about the Container Concept (that used to be completely foreign to me!):
Post – Decluttering a Child’s Room
Podcast – One In One Out
Podcast listeners click here.