Cleaning Out Before Christmas

Cleaning Out Before Christmas December 10, 2014

Friends ~ We apologize for the lack of posts here over the past couple of months! The school year has kept all of us Builders quite busy, leaving little time to sit down to write a thoughtful post. We pray that all of you are having a blessed Advent thus far, and we would humbly ask for your prayers for each of our families as well.

Shifting gears…Yesterday, I heard a radio announcer say something that stuck with me: “What if cleaning out your house was less about getting rid of stuff and more about thinking about what brings you joy?” This simple sentence expresses the attitude that I tried to have last spring as we were preparing our house to go on the market. Although I had tried to clear out toys and clothes periodically that our family no longer needed, we still had a lot of stuff lying around, especially in our playroom and in the kids’ rooms. I knew that we needed to either get the clutter out of the house permanently or store it temporarily, so I decided to take a good long look at what we had and how we used it. My hypothesis was that there were probably about 3-5 categories of toys that my kids and their friends played with regularly, and as I observed my family over the next few days, my hypothesis was 100% confirmed. Here is the approach that I took in cleaning out our playroom:

1) Pick a maximum of 3 types of toys that the kids enjoy playing with (books and musical instruments not included – those stay no matter what!).

2) Pick a maximum of 2 types of toys that friends enjoy playing with when they come over to our house.

3) Sort through all of the rest of the items and decide what to donate and what to throw away.

4) Organize what is left.

Just to make this more concrete, I’ll share what I saved. My kids regularly played with puzzles, board games, and arts and crafts activities. When friends came over, they regularly played with our collection of Hess trucks and our kitchen set. All of the rest of the toys got dumped out but weren’t really played with, leaving a big mess at the end of the day and not really bringing much fulfillment. We were all much happier after cleaning out, and this all happened by focusing on what brings us joy.

I took a similar approach in the kids’ rooms, although what we keep there changes more frequently because it is more personal than what we keep in our playroom. For example, we now keep our dolls and all of their accessories in storage bins under the bed which are easily pulled out, and we keep our dress-up clothes hung up in the closet and in a dress-up box. My son has Legos and an over-the-door basketball hoop in his room. The baby’s room has all of the fun toys that we haven’t played with in years, but that take up oh-so-much space 🙂 Other than that, we just have books in the kids’ rooms, and they still manage to get very messy!

I hope that this guide can be helpful to some of you. May God bless you and your families as you prepare for Jesus’ first coming at Christmas, and for His second coming at the end of time. Mary, Mother of Our Lord, pray for us!


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