This weekend I had a revelation. My daughter received a “Littlest Pet Shop” item for her birthday. She has many toys, but it had been a long time since I had seen her so fascinated with a simple toy and playing for hours. As we freed the toy from its packaging, involving wire cutters for the twist ties and the scissors for the invisible elastic bands, my partner asked if this belonged to the set of dollhouse toys we had purchased for her over the past few years. While it didn’t, I wondered why she had stopped playing with the doll houses. We had purchased so much of the set. Then the thought came crashing through…
She didn’t play with the dollhouses because there were too many.
Along those lines, I also realized she has avoided working at her little desk in our office. I can’t blame her. Even with my back to it, I can still feel the piles of clutter and garbage lurking there, interlaced with broken crayons, dried up markers and bits of toys that belong elsewhere.
I’ve been reading 30 Days to a Simpler Life (aff), and taken to heart the first day: gather up a shopping bag of stuff and get it out of your house. My trunk is filled for the trip to the thrift store tomorrow. So I began to wonder if this would help my daughter, too.
So today we went and purchased two binders and three pencil boxes as we purchased her school supplies. In the afternoon, I went through her entire desk area. I threw out a bag of trash, and recycled as much more. The blank paper I punched and put in a binder. The other binder is for completed art. Then I sorted through all the stickers, pencils and crayons, putting them into boxes, which I labeled.
As I was doing this I ran across her My First LeapPad (aff), and wondered if the same thing applied: was there too much? So I put most of it in the closet, leaving three books/cartridges that focus on writing and math in the bag with the device.
I’ll admit, I was worried. How would she take this cleaning out? I threw away a lot of stuff.
I need not have worried. She has been in here with me for the last hour, happily coloring and using her art supplies.
After dinner we also weeded out her doll houses. I put more than half of them in the closet, and left her with the ones of her choosing. She spent an hour after dinner playing with what was left – the first time in months.
This makes me think back about a year ago, where I was sitting in the same office space, feeling the weight of unread books staring at my back. I felt blocked off and mentally constipated. One Saturday, I started pitching books. I must have made four trips to the library auxiliary shop to donate. I felt so light with the permission I was giving myself not to “get to” those books! I got rid of the shelves, painted the walls bright purple and green, cleared off my desk, and WOW! Words started flowing faster than they had in years. Programs came out effortlessly and cleanly.
Today was a great reinforcement of what I suspected: simplifying and cleaning a space can make it much easier to use. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when I tackle cleaning my music out. I am stuck, and I need the nudge. Perhaps getting rid of music I “should” learn to play and keeping the stuff I love will help me get back into it. We’ll see.