I decided it was time to do some more cleaning and purging in our daughter’s room this weekend. We’ve gone through a few rounds before and managed to get rid of some things each time. Mostly it has been the junky, old, or broken toys. We would also weed through to find ones that she just didn’t like any more but were good enough to donate or give away.
We never made as much progress as I would have liked, although each time I was very pleased that she approached the clean and purge with excitement and made a good effort to reduce the overall toy count while also cleaning and straightening.
My wife, Dream, and I had a discussion on Saturday about the state of her bedroom. It was impossible to keep it clean. She has too many toys. I mentioned that I felt like we were failing her as parents in this area. It’s not Faith’s fault that her bedroom is a disaster, it’s ours.
Dream had some frustrations as well, and mentioned that every time Dream would help Faith to pick up and straighten, the next day Faith would have all her toys out and the room would be a mess again. Something clicked when she said this.
It isn’t that Faith wants to live in a messy room. She doesn’t purposely go in there and make a mess again. What it is, is that when the room is clean, she finally has enough space to play and enjoy the toys she has.
Armed with this little insight we were more inspired than ever to help her downsize her toy collection in order to maximize the enjoyment she gets from the toys she has left.
We told Faith that we’d like to do some more cleaning in her room on Sunday. On Sunday morning, after breakfast, Faith asked if we could start on her room.
A Story of Daddy’s Childhood
I said we could and we went in in sat down on her bedroom floor. We started with a short discussion where I told her my vision for her room and gave her little historical perspective.
I started by telling her a story of my childhood. I told her that when I was a little boy my room was so messy and had so much stuff that I didn’t have room to play with anything. I had a huge dresser, much larger than hers. I had a desk that was much too large for the room and it took up a lot of space. All this stuff took up so much space that I had toys and papers spread all over them and all over the little bit of floor space that I had left.
I told her that my parents never helped me to get rid of things. They never helped me make space for my favorite toys.
I then told her that I would like to help her so that she doesn’t have that same situation. I wanted her to have room to play and to have fewer toys so that it’s easier to clean up.
I could tell that this really sunk in for her. The insight to her daddy as a little boy got her fired up to make some real changes. We continued to talk about how nice it would be to have plenty of space in her room to play. We also talked about how having less stuff would give her the chance to enjoy her favorite toys.
A Proud Moment
At one point in the conversation her eyes lit up and she said,
“I want to have LESS toys than my cousin!”
WOW! What a breakthrough. That comment made me so proud. She made the connection that having less is better. At six years old, she made the realization that took me over thirty years to realize. I cannot adequately explain the pride I felt in her. I have never heard any child saying they want fewer things, and here, my daughter excitedly expressed this idea.
She told me about her cousin’s room. She has so many toys that the floor is covered. They have to step on toys to get across the room to the bed. They have no room to play when Faith visits her. Faith doesn’t want to be like that. She also came up with the idea of getting rid of many of her stuffed animals so that she could use the storage chest for hide and seek.
She’s really making connections between having less things and creating more meaningful experiences through play. She expressed the desire to create memorable experiences by playing her cousin’s favorite things. With one it’s Barbie dolls and with the other it’s hide and seek.
Identifying the Favorites
We continued the conversation we continued with some questions. What are your very favorite toys? You play with your Barbie dolls the most, would you say those are your favorites? She agreed that they are. She also said that she really likes playing with her baby dolls. She also said that maybe she can get rid of some of the Barbies that she doesn’t like as much. I agreed and said, “That is an excellent idea.”
Starting the Purge
With the goal of keeping her two favorite things, we started tackling her room. We started with items that littered the floor. We had a bag for garbage and a bag for donate. Much of the floor was littered with garbage items. Once we cleared enough space to work in, we hit a few of the cluttery items in her closet (per her mom’s request.) Feather boas, play purses, and hats that were never worn.
Then we moved to her storage boxes. She has an eight compartment unit (looks kind of like a book case lying on its side) that has cube shaped fabric covered boxes. We bought it at Target a few years ago, and this has served as the main storage space for her toys.
We grabbed the first storage cube and it was filled with My Little Ponies. I thought to myself this was the first test of the rule of favorites. You know how that rule goes. One item is her favorite until she sees the next item, and then that one becomes her favorite too. Repeat and repeat and eventually everything she owns is her favorite.
I must say she surprised me. She said we can get rid of all her My Little Ponies. She looked at me and asked, “Are you surprised?” She was observant to see the look on my face. I was surprised and I told her so, and that I was very proud of her.
She decided to give them to another of her cousins, a three year old little girl. This little girl’s current favorite is My Little Ponies, and it was very thoughtful for Faith to consider this gift to her cousin. We bagged them up and set them aside.
We continued with the next cube. Toy food items. Again she said we could get rid of all the toy food. We bagged them up and place the bag in the donate pile.
The next three cubes were junk cubes (similar to junk drawers.) They were filled with random items with no central theme linking the items. Most of these things were trash with some donate items. Trash items were things like happy meal toys or dollar store gifts from relatives. The items that were in good condition were set aside to donate.
We got a system going where I would hold up every item in the box, one at a time, and she would say yes or no. Yes meant keep, no meant get rid of. Her decisions were swift and we made rapid progress.
Next, came another challenge, or so I thought. The fairy cube, full of Tinkerbelle dolls and play sets. She said, “Donate.” And with that we weed out the broken dolls and bagged the rest for donation.
After the fairy box we weeded out the Barbie box.
Along the way we had some “think about” items. With some items she would hold them for a minute and close her eyes to relish in the good memories of the item before handing it to me to donate. It was sweet to watch her absorb the good feelings and memories before letting the item go.
Others she wasn’t quite ready to part with, so we placed them in a small pile. This included Littlest Petshop toys and a few other random items. She expressed that she would probably get rid of these things but she wanted to think about them some more before deciding to donate them.
To Be Continued
The purge was actually split in the middle as we headed off to a corn maze in the middle part of the day. She had a great time playing on the old school playground filled with tractor tires, a trapeze bar, and some monkey bars where the steps were actually high enough for the smaller kids to reach the bars. They also had a zip line, 60 foot slide, and big air filled bouncy thing that kind of resembled a huge pillow.
We’ll continue the purge tonight and probably on and off throughout the rest of the week.
One final tidbit… After we started purging and before we left for the corn maze I had to jump in the shower. Before I did however, she asked if she could watch “Hoarders” on Netflix. She’s such a sweetie pie, I guess she likes the inspiration she gets from that show. It works for me too – every time I watch it I get the urge to purge.