We spent the majority of last week continuing to go through Faith’s bedroom to get her toy collection down to a reasonable level. If you’ll recall in the last post the idea of living with less finally clicked for her, and she made that statement that she “wants to have LESS toys than her cousin.” She also really wanted to have more space to play and easier cleanup – basically all the things that a minimalist philosophy includes.
My last post left off after one day of cleanup effort. The first day (Sunday) was focused on clearing floor space and making some room to store things. When we started, her room was in disaster mode, where a large number of toys were scattered about the floor, to the point where it was difficult to walk across the room. I wish I would have taken a “before” picture. I get so excited when we start cleaning and purging that I often forget to take the before shots. You’ll just have to use your imagination and picture a floor covered with scattered toys. I did get a picture of all the purged items ready for donation.
This first day we managed to clear a good spot in the middle of the room and also three of her cube storage boxes. We bought the storage shelving and the colored cube boxes at Target a few years back. They worked great for holding toys and keeping them out of sight. We managed to completely clean out three of the eight on that first day.
Over the course of the week that followed we spent an hour or two cleaning and purging each night (except for Tuesday which is taken up with gymnastics and cheerleading.) The process continued as it did the first day where I would hold up each item and she would say yes or no. Yes meant keep, no meant trash or donate. This made it easy for her as she could sit back and make decisions while I did all the manual labor.
We continued to clean out the cube storage and ended up completely emptying five of the eight cubes.
Here is the content listing of the cubes and what Faith decided to do with the contents.
- Play food – donate all.
- My Little Ponies – give all to her three year old cousin
- Mermaids and Fairies – donate all.
- Small princesses (the smaller than barbie doll size ones with plastic clothing) – She weeded these and chose her very favorites dolls. She basically kept one of each princess. She also kept all the clothes as she really enjoys playing dress up with her dolls.
- Barbie dolls and Barbie doll sized princesses – She weeded these ones also keeping her favorites and one of her cousin’s favorites. She donated more than half of these dolls. She kept most of the clothes. (We may go through doll clothing later to weed that out as well.)
- 7, 8. Miscellaneous toys. Things like jump rope, McDonalds happy meal toys, toy cars, and anything else that didn’t fit in one of the other categories. She tossed or donated almost everything in these boxes. She kept her jump rope and a few other items that were special to her.
The end result was three boxes about half full of toys and the rest were empty.
A Floor in Flux
After finishing the boxes we worked on the floor some more. As she worked on purging we would have a small pile of “think about” items. Those would sit for about a day and then we would go through them the next day. Having a day to think about those items she chose to donate the majority of those items, while keeping only one or two from items from the pile.
The floor seemed to keep getting messy throughout the process as it was the spot where we would do the sorting. As things would get sorted they would go into a bag for donate, a bag for trash, a pile for think about, or a pile for keep. As much of her storage areas were in flux, the keep pile didn’t always immediately have a spot to be put away. So, it remained in a pile on the floor until nearly the last day of our bedroom purge.
An Idea Takes Shape
Half way through the week, we had a thought. What if we could get rid of her dresser? That would free up a lot of floor space. Faith also had a desk on her wish list and we never had room for it with the dresser and the storage cubes. If we could get rid of the dresser we could replace it with a small desk. She had her eye on one that we had seen at Ikea a while back. It was small and would fit well in the room if we could make a little space for it.
With those thoughts bouncing around a plan started to develop. Faith had already mentioned that she wanted to give away most of her stuffed animals. These animals lived in a storage chest in her closet. If we could give away enough of those stuffed animals that we could take the chest out of the closet, we could replace it with a small dresser. Having a neat and organized closet with a small dresser inside would mean that we could get rid of the big dresser that took up so much space in her room and be able to get Faith the desk that she’s been wanting.
We set that plan in motion and she slated three bags full of stuffed animals for donation. She kept less than half a bag full, which we place in a plastic storage bin and slid under the bed. I was impressed at the number of stuffed animals she was able to give away. She had always been very attached to her stuffed animal collection and would often play with them. With her new focus on playing with her very favorite things (Barbies and baby dolls) she was able to part with many of her stuffed animals.
We did some weeding in the closet, removing some of the clothes she didn’t wear and some of the dress up items that were too small or in poor shape. We also did a little rearranging to move her games from the top shelf to a lower shelf where she could reach them more easily. We also removed the storage chest from the closet and moved it to the living room to store our P90X workout equipment.
By Friday we had made a lot of progress. We weren’t quite done, but we were getting close. We were at the point where we had room in the closet to add a small dresser, allowing us to replace her big dresser with a small desk.
We decided to head up to Ikea to look for the desk. As we were walking through the never-ending maze that is Ikea, we looked at the place we had last seen the desk. It wasn’t there. The one we had seen was part of a bedroom display, but they must of changed things up since our last visit many months ago.
We headed over to the desk section to see what they had. We were happy to see that Faith migrated to the smaller desks. One she looked at was specifically designed to hold a laptop and nothing else. That seemed a little small, but she liked the way the desktop was split down the center where it opened to reveal a laptop hidden beneath. Dream and I looked at some of the desks, and although Ikea furniture isn’t our typical style we found a couple that we liked.
It turns out our taste is different from Faiths. We settled in on a sleek white glass top desk, while Faith settled in on her favorite, a lilac colored antique desk. It had a storage compartment right under the desktop to house a laptop. The storage compartment was access with an antique key. She loves keys, she loved the color, and we all liked the size.
While we weren’t completely sold on the color, Faith loved it, so we agreed to buy it for her. We also had to pick out a chair, which took a bit more discussion back and forth. Faith’s main requirement was that it have a lever to pull to make it go up and down. We decided on a nice chair covered in white fabric.
We wrote down the model numbers and bin locations to pick up the items downstairs. If you’ve never been to Ikea, they basically have the store setup like a meandering path so that a single path leads you past every item in the store. When you find the items you want, you write down their location and go downstairs to the warehouse area where you match up the aisle numbers to find your items.
As we were walking out, we found a console cabinet that matched the desk. Well… it kind of matched. It was the same style, but it was gray instead of lilac. Oddly enough, they only sold it in gray. I would think they would have the styles and colors match, but apparently not. We decided to buy the console cabinet to replace the storage cubes. It would dress up the room a little and would provide a little more desk space should she ever need to spread out books or papers while she’s working on something.
We also manage to find a small dresser that was exactly the right size to fit in her closet. Oddly enough it was a different style from the desk and console cabinet, but it was lilac in color. We finish up with some small fabric storage cubes that would fit in the console cabinet so that she could keep her toys organized.
It took me most of the evening and some time the next day to get everything put together. I’m impressed with the build quality of the Ikea furniture; it’s a step above the Target and Wal-Mart stuff we’ve used in the past.
Dresser and Clothing Purge
Saturday during the day we attended a cheerleading competition. Faith’s squad chose not to compete this year, but we wanted to see the older girls compete. After the competition we headed back home to work on transferring clothes from the big dresser to the smaller one.
Faith actually got started before I even had a chance to help. She grabbed stacks of clothes and moved them from one dresser to the other. When I arrived on scene, I suggested that we pull the clothes back out and sort through them. We used the same process as we had with the toys. I held up each item and she gave a yes or no. I also check sizes to weed out any that were too small, although most of the time she could tell me what was too small without needing to check.
We weeded out a bag full of clothes and set it in our donate pile. The bags had been stacking up all week, so we had quite a pile going. Here’s a picture of all the bags stacked up to donate. We also had some items not pictured, including four or five bags of trash, a small bag of items to give to her cousins, and a couple items we’re trying to sell on craigslist.
To finish up we found homes for what remained of the keep pile. We moved the Barbie dream house to a spot behind the door where it’s not as visible from the living room. And we rotated the bed to give her more open floor space.
Here are the results of Faith’s clean and purge.
The difference is amazing. She has been spending time in her room every day. She sits at her new desk drawing and coloring, and sometimes she sits in her new chair to watch a movie on her TV (she was watching Charlotte’s Web the other day.)
She now has a more manageable collection of toys and the ones she does have are easier to put away. The new set of storage boxes we got came in different sizes, so we’re able to keep doll accessories in the smaller boxes and dolls in the larger boxes. It makes it nice for organization.
We’re working with Faith to pick up after herself. We want her to get into the habit of cleaning up when she is done playing or when switching between tasks. It will take some time to create that habit. We also are curious to see what happens at Christmas when Dream and I attempt to not go overboard with gifts. There will also be challenges as to what to do with gifts in categories that she has chosen not to keep. We’re thinking we may do more exchanges this year in order to keep her toy collection more focused on her favorite activities.
We have a little time for all that, for now we enjoy seeing her thriving in her world of less.