We got rid of most our toys this fall! Yes, I was that "mean mom." When I read the story by The Purposeful Housewife recently, I knew I had to give it a try. I, too, was cleaning up toys everyday, or stepping on little cars, or putting back toys in the play room by crawling under the desks on my hands and knees, by myself, to get things cleaned. And no one could see it but me. I did it right before my husband came home, made my mom sit outside while I cleaned so she couldn't see it, or worse, clean up for me. It took days for us to tidy up, just so the cleaners could clean! I'm pretty sure I was picking up toys about 14 hours a week and if I didn't do that, the house would look like burglers had made a mess while robbing my house ... EVERY. DAY.
So one day, while the kids were sleeping, I bagged up most of their toys. Every single little match box car that I used to pick up, every stuffed animal that filled their closet that were sentimental, but we never used, every big Lego that were all over the floor that I would pick up, place in their dump truck home, and have them dump right back out three times a day. As I got going, I went faster. I wanted them all gone and I wanted them gone fast. I was a hot mess thinking about all of the hours spent cleaning and I was determined to put an end to it all. I put them in my husband's car in a fit of fury and I slammed the door in a huff of madness!
When they woke up I secretly watched them. And you know what happened, nothing!! My daughter just asked, "Why did you clean the play room so much?" And then they just went on playing. They played on their bunk beds and pretended to be bears in a cave. They played with the few educational toys I left, like their gears and trains. Together. They played! They grabbed a book to flip the pages. And now we go outside every afternoon for an hour, I time it, so they can run and play and mommy can exercise, too.
The first evening I walked around and had the urge to pick up things, but there wasn't much to pick up! There were a few stragglers that I promptly threw in the trash. The next evening I still walked around sure I had to straighten. By the third evening I couldn't believe the time I had to myself that I usually spent cleaning! It was a secret miracle, a wa-la moment! The kids, too, feel the weight off their shoulders. I can sit with them at the dinner table rather than cleaning, not have to ask so many times to clean up, and their playroom is not filled with STUFF that I would throw in from the doorway each week as I tidied the other rooms.
I started cleaning out my own closets of clothes. I asked the kids to go through their books with me and give away those they haven't read in awhile. And books are hard to give away! Once things are minimalized, you want to keep minimalizing!
Then the most amazing thing happened. My husband took the toys to a thrift store on the way to work. On a random chance, the thrift store was not accepting toys! Oh no, the toys are coming back, I thought!! No way was that going to happen. But that same day, I saw a post on Facebook: "Toys needed for Hurricane Matthew Victims." I couldn't believe it. I called him immediately and said, "Bring them back!" On board, too, he wanted to be sure they were going to this place, that they wouldn't be in our house again. When he got home, I immediately drove to the Publix, searched in frantic mode for the red and black balloons that signified the pick up cars. I felt like I was giving away our junk, but they took everything! They took the toys, clothes, breast pump, maternity bathing suit, baby blankets and towels, kids shoes, EVERYTHING. As I handed over our entire toy chest filled with little gadgets, small bouncy balls, trinkets, and lost baby toy shoes, I got teary eyed. This was our toy box for years and I was handing over our stuff, and making the move to not having babies/toddlers anymore, but knowing that these families now had nothing and they needed all our STUFF. The tears were for the lift of giving away our CLUTTER. For not having to CLEAN and PICK UP every single night. But they were also for helping others. And not for helping somewhere far away. For helping my own peers, someone at my own economic level,for knowing that one day it could be me, and my own family that could need this help. Local children needed our toys because Hurricane Matthew flooded their homes, made them sit everything outside on their curbs, and they didn't have anything anymore. Our kids, our little family, helped local people and it was an amazing moment.
So thank you to Allie for prompting me to declutter. I hope our story hopes local Jacksonville parents, children, and beyond! Please share your declutter stories below!