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Monday, January 5, 2015

Defining Normal

Last month we moved to a new house.  The house is huge, and so we have a room dedicated solely to toys.  I don't know how I feel about that.  I posted the picture above to Facebook, with the caption "This is normal when you have a toy room, right?" and got several responses agreeing that this is indeed normal for a toy room.

(Before I go any farther, I am not trying to judge anyone for their toy room or the amount of stuff they have.  I'm just trying to figure out what might work for our family)

Fast forward several days.  Every day I would look into the toy room and sigh.  Every night we would ask the boys to pick up and get screaming and tantrums and whining.  This is not the normal I want to get used to.

I thought maybe it would get better as we got fully unpacked and found a place for everything.  The art supplies moved to a cabinet in the living room, accessible to the boys but out of Hannah's reach.  The puzzles moved to a closet off of the kitchen.  The toys with little parts were put on the top shelf.

But still things were messy.  By the end of the day, bins were dumped out, cars were everywhere, and toys were still all over the living room and dining room.

I even got so frustrated that I grabbed a garbage bag and shoved toys in it.  Whatever was in my path, whatever I got to before the kids picked up, in it went.  And over the next few days, they asked for three things.  Three things from the entire bag of stuff.  I made them do an extra chore to earn each one back.  I hoped this would help, having to work for the things they wanted.  It really only proved yet again that they don't even want all of their stuff.

We packed up most of the Legos.  I let Jonah and Matthew each pick 5 of their favorite sets, plus the big bin of extra pieces, and the rest are in a box upstairs.

These things helped, kind of.

I'm still in this odd mental place, stuck between "normal for a toy room", which I don't like, feeling bad for taking toys away from my kids, and the desire for less stuff, less whining, less mess.  Visual clutter is one of those things that just gets on my nerves.  And fighting with the kids to pick stuff up every day isn't helping.

I don't necessarily have a solution, other than to continue to get rid of the things that they don't like, that are just extras that get dumped out and then forgotten until clean-up time.  I feel like I've gotten rid of so much already.  But then I peek in this room and see so much still there.

With a huge house comes the temptation to expand.  I'm trying really hard not to.  When unpacking our bedroom, we were trying to figure out where to put our clothes, between the dresser, the master bedroom closet, and the hall closet just outside our door.  We started to talk about getting a dresser to fit the rest of them.  We have the space, and that would be the normal thing to do, to have a his and hers dresser to go with our his and hers closets.

But then I stepped back.  Do we really need all of these clothes, that we can't fit what we truly wear in a dresser and TWO closets?  That motivated me to clean out a drawer of the dresser that I had been using for t-shirts that I rarely wear, to make space for Jesse's undershirts that he does wear.  I kept a few in a stack in the closet that I think that I want.  If they actually make it through a wear and wash, they'll get hung up.  If not, well there's my answer.

I already know we're not a normal family.  We don't eat typical food, we homeschool (for the moment - more about that later this month!), and we keep trying to get rid of stuff.  I know what we're not. But now I have to figure out what our "normal" is.

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