Friday, April 9, 2010

What if there were no mess?

Imagine, if you will, life with over a half dozen people crammed into 1200 sq ft, some of which is closets and oddly shaped parts of rooms. All the acutrements of those people plus the many added parcels for hobbies, developmental toys, and the like. Then the square footage needed for homeschooling three different grades, space for keeping and making food for all those hungry mouthes and the shelves and shelves of books which are necessary to our exisitence. An enormous supply of computers, electronics and cables. A wealth of fabric, buttons and sewing machines. We do our own car repairs, gardening, and building and have the required supplies. Throw in an upright piano and 7' L-shaped sectional couch, holiday decorations and seasonal supplies, two cats and puppy and a rabbit on less than a 16th of an acre (on which the house and parking area sits) and you can maybe get an idea of what it's like over at my house.

Frankly, its a mess.

I'm trying hard to downsize. To create a simple home that is easy to manage. Where there is no mess because there just simply isn't that much to mess up. I'm not asking for Donna Reed twirrling in my foyer, a deleriously happy grin plastered on her polished face, blissful with the home I create. I don't have a foyer anyway.

I just don't want a mess.

I don't want to be embarrased when people stop by unannounced (or with little announcement, or I forgot they announced all together and find myself stammering apologies as I twirl around like the Tasmanian Devil *very Un-Donna-like* throwing things out of sight. Not that that's happened recently or anything.) Would it really be too much to ask to not have to find half eaten apples under the couch when we're searching for lost keys? Maybe my kid could not poke holes in the really old walls? Or get toothpaste all over the bathroom when they're brushing their teeth?

There are a lot of us. I get that. I birthed them so I should know. We require a lot of stuff. We have to have seven toothbrushes. We go through a lot of toothpaste too (even if it's not being wasted smeared on the walls). There has to be enough plates and bowls, cups and utencils for all of us to eat at least two meals a day with. The kids all have to have clothes to wear and shoes to shod so we can leave the house and have visitors over. They have to be season and size appropriate. They have to have enough for me to not have to wash them every other night. They're all still in carseats, some still require strollers, diaper bags, and the like.

So where does the line get drawn? What is considered *too much* when you have many people to nuture, care for and build up to adulthood? How can I create an easy to manage home by reducing things when everything in the house is used or loved by at least one person?

One wall of our homeschool before I put everything away.

When the black garbage bags come out, ready to be stuffed with the unnecessary, it ends up coming down to my things getting shoved in and moved out. I can part with *stuff*, I can live without. I don't want to deprive my offspring of opportunities of play or scar them by tossing out that beloved little doll. Already, I become the Black Bag Harbinger of Death, to the kids when I get in a *mood* to clean out. But when three girls all have beloved little dolls the toy box starts bulging, the messes start flying and mommy gets really, really frustrated.

It makes me imagine how idyllic my world would be if I didn't have to scurry around swiping up messes. The kids help, sure, but they're still kinda little and it gets tiring and overwhelming for them when their play explodes all over a hundred square feet (and sometimes further). So, my new task is to par down gently. Remove the toys that have little to no value. To help the kids see why we can't keep everything ever bought or given to them. How a few special things can be just as wonderful as a toy box crammed full. It won't be easy and I'll probably fall backwards as we have a handful of birthdays approaching. But hopefully, we can manage. Even if there can't be no messes made, maybe we can start making managable ones.


Conny said...

You made me chuckle with the "Black Bag Harbinger of Death" comment :0 Yeah, sometimes its easier to "remove" items when they're not looking. I think the one thing that's saved us in our tiny (1,000 sf) house is that we have a small sunroom (we call it the playroom) addition - the only place where toys are allowed. Now, sometimes...the playroom is a disaster area but I'm happy knowing its confined to one area.

Good luck with the clean-out. :>)

Harvest Kitchen Sisters said...

I TOTALLY get how you feel. I have 2 boys and they are like little tornados were ever they go. That mixed with dirt,shavings,dirty animals full of mud.. the list goes on. Goodluck!

Kaylala said...

gosh. I just have one, and a ferret...and somehow their toys end up EVERYWHERE. My partner has a rule..."one toy at a time" we're trying to enforce that...he can play with whatever he wants in his bedroom, but has to pick it up when hes finished..but he can only have one toy outside of his's a little harder to enforce with the ferret...he hides his and right before birthdays/christmas i go through my sons toys and get rid of what he's outgrown...or i think is plain silly.