There is a famous quote from Albert Einstein that describes insanity as: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
That's how I feel about tidying up. For some reason, a little part of me thinks that whenever the house is tidy, it will magically stay that way. We all know that it never does, and so the cycle continues. It drives me insane.
It had been building for a while. I felt tense and everywhere I looked, there was stuff. Toys. Paper. Books. More toys. Clothes. Bits of toys. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. I wasn't keeping up with the washing. Clothes had totally covered the floor of our study (and I found myself yelling at the kids not to walk on the clothes - but really, what else were they supposed to do when there was no clear floor space to walk on?) And there were more bits of toys scattered throughout the house.
I felt I was constantly running in circles, clearing bench space, picking things up, asking the kids to put their things away - only to turn around and find stuff everywhere again. Insanity.
I think it was the toys that got to me the most. We had a playroom - our rumpus/family room that we had dedicated to the kids play area. There were boxes where toys were supposed to be kept. But it had become a disaster zone. The sight of everything scattered on the floor and the couches pushed me to my limit. I said to my husband - I can't keep up with it all. If it was overwhelming for me, then it was certainly overwhelming for the kids. Where do you even begin to tidy up when there is stuff everywhere? Admittedly, our amount of stuff will be different compared to other families. One child - no problem. Multiply it by four - and bam, that's a lot of stuff.
It's not that we're slobs. And it's not that we're hoarders or extravagant spenders. But we still managed to have stuff everywhere.
That day, when I couldn't face the mess, I asked myself if we really needed a 'playroom' - and my answer, without any thought, was No. No we don't.
My vision for family life didn't include being consumed with stuff, or yelling at my kids to tidy up their toys for the hundredth time. I wanted time to spend with my family, not time spent putting stuff away.
Thankfully the kids are more or less at ages now where they share a lot of things. We've gotten rid of the baby toys (sniff, sniff), and my eldest (almost 10) doesn't really play with toys (she's into art). We have a cupboard dedicated to games, puzzles and art and craft supplies. So, my solution to the toy clutter came easy - I decided to ditch the playroom and move toys into each child's room, and cull the rest.
I remember having ONE toy box when I was little - and I think my children can learn to have the same. They don't need a playroom dedicated to toys, nor do they need cupboards full of them. What we have now is so much more manageable - each child is responsible for their own toys, and if they wish to share, they play in each other's rooms or bring them out to a central area, then tidy up after playing.
Since ditching the playroom, our toys have been reduced dramatically (goodbye Polly Pocket and all your annoying little accessories). Our living area has been reclaimed, clutter has diminished and toys are limited but contained. The kids are certainly happier because the clutter is gone, they play outside a lot more and they aren't overwhelmed with what to play with (because there aren't a thousand toys to choose from). Less is definitely more in our home now.
Do you have a dedicated 'playroom'?
How do you manage toy clutter?