Over the last year and a half we have been purging our house of stuff, anything broken, anything too small, anything not played with, or hasn’t been used for six months or more, out the door it goes. About a month ago I warned the kid’s that in two weeks we were going to go back down to the toy room and get rid of more toys. I gave them two weeks because I really wanted to give them time to think about what they played with, to notice broken or unused toys on their own. Every so often I would remind them what was coming to keep their minds focused on our goal.
The day before we went toy purging, I sat down with the kid’s for a meeting. I told them that they are eight and five now and they may be ready to do some different things with their space in the basement. I explained that we live in a just right size house for us, but, what that meant was we needed to be mindful of what we wanted to do with our space. After talking through some options they decided they wanted a space for creating, especially painting. They also wanted a puppet theater, as well as a stage they could sing and perform on, and space to run around. After we finished talking the kid’s happily and willingly went down to the basement and helped me go through and get rid of broken, unwanted, or outgrown toys. A key to my kid’s being happy about getting rid of things was first having them watch me start purging my stuff. Also, giving them a warning a head of time and giving them a reason of why we are purging our stuff. Assuring them that we were not going to get rid of EVERY SINGLE TOY so they did not have to worry I would make them get rid of their favorites or their loves.
I would say we purged 3/4 of their toys. We kept their kitchen set, the work bench, train table, pet shop houses, and few of their other loves. True to my word I began helping them create the spaces they had asked for. My first task was to get a creating corner set up for them. I went through their crafting supplies to make notes of what we had, didn’t have, and then asked the kid’s what they would like to have in their creating space. My older three were giddy excited about their new space! They have literally spent whole afternoons gluing, coloring, and coming soon…painting!
We will build a performing stage when we find the supplies for them. I found a pattern for using pallets and plywood that would be inexpensive and easy for the kids to help me build, paint, and set up. Making 4 to 6 individual pallets will allow the kid’s to play with different ways to make a stage and easy to move in case we get water in the basement as happens so often in Minnesota.
Lastly, the puppet theater, I’m not sure if we will make this out of wood or with sheets. Again, I want the kid’s to be able to help me build and set up their theater and I haven’t found the perfect pattern for us, yet, but I will!
A few weeks ago Mark cut down some branches that were hanging over the street. The city had kindly let us know they were too long and since they were on our property to please take care of them. Fast forward a couple weeks and the kid’s and I finally got around to getting them cut down to smaller sizes. The kid’s learned how to use a branch trimmer and a saw, you would have thought we had asked them to go on vacation. My three big kid’s worked so hard today. Titus was beyond thrilled to learn how to use work tools! Today, in his eyes, he became a man, doing man’s work!
I have found it to be true that my kid’s want to play for real. They would rather have everyday work tools than to have a house full of nick knack toys. They want real tools to learn to build a stage to perform on, they want creating tools to express their inner soul and make the world beautiful, they want a karaoke machine to gain confidence performing in front of people. My mommy heart is in awe and a little sad, because my big kid’s are growing up. They are becoming adults before my eyes, learning to make wise choices and learning what happens when a wise choice wasn’t made.
We are learning a house of stuff is just stuff and we are learning the value of using the spaces we have wisely. Less stuff means our spaces are easier to keep tidy, we have more room to create, and their very favorite, mommy becomes less busy and trips to the park and the beach happen more often!
[…] I knew I wanted to begin walking purposely towards this method of learning, but would it work? The main premise of TJE is to set up a mentoring, educational environment in which the kids will be inspired to learn and study on their own. You might be laughing right now, honestly, we did too! We began first by purging our home. Another premise of TJE is “inspire, not require”. I began purging my area first (you can read more about our year of purging here). […]