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Monday, September 16, 2013

No going back. Becoming a minimalist.

They don't fight as much.
They are more content and play longer.
They are more creative and imaginative.
They "read" even more than they already did.
There is WAY less mess which in turn makes our home more peaceful.
They enjoy not spending as much time picking up every day.

What's the magic trick?? 

I took the kids' toys away.

All in the same week I came across three different things that inspired me to make this change in our home. The first was this super old-school book I got for free titled The Real Book of Games by Joseph Leeming, published in 1953.  It's full of simple games that...here's the kicker for me... require NOTHING or next to nothing.  Games that kids used to play decades ago. Games like I Spy,
number/letter guessing, question games, thumb war, battleships (on paper), duck-duck-goose except with a newspaper, those song clapping games, and alllll these other games like "we stand this certain way and push on each other and see who falls over first" sort of games. They're amazingly simple and again require nothing but fun and imagination! The book includes active games, quiet games, inside, outside, ice breaker type games, and games just for two. And I love it all. And almost all of it are ideas that have been lost through the years. Because of technology and things with bright color and noise.  And our need to be entertained by SOMETHING, even us adults. And it's sad. So that was the first thing that really got my heart stirring.

The second was a blog post titled "Why I took all my kids' toys away and why they won't get them back".  The results this mom had were shocking and inspiring and I immediately wanted to take action.

And another article AGAIN, titled "Why Fewer Toys Will Actually Benefit Your Kids". It explains the value of toys and how kids learn thru play, but at the same time it re-emphasizes the idea that less is more.  Keeping it basic. And again all those wonderful results of doing just that.

I figured, why not at least give it a try? So I went for it. And it has been glorious, amazing, wonderful, and I'm becoming very passionate about living this way and sharing it with others! I hear so many friends talking about how they need to figure out a way to organize their spaces, and my simple solution is really to just have less stuff!!!

Now here are the details. I've always been very reserved about the amount of toys we gave the kids, but still our home was very full on every corner, it seemed. It was organized but it still took a LOT to maintain that, and the kids were always overwhelmed at sorting everything back into their spots. Fighting was a constant, and while that is a heart issue that also needs dealt with, sometimes you reach a point where you just want to diminish the battles altogether.  So I did. One by one I packed up the stuff from the playroom and hauled it to the basement so that all that remained was a full bookshelf of books, a shoe box of Hot Wheel sized cars only, Trio blocks, art supplies, and the play kitchen (minus all the kitchen STUFF) but left a set of tea party stuff. And guess what, the kids never said a word about where everything went. It's been three weeks maybe and still not a word, not a single complaint. They did ask for something specific a couple days ago so I brought it up from the basement, and when they were done, back it went.  I've done much of the same with their bedrooms, pulled out the miscellaneous STUFF and left the basics. For Eli and Carter's room, it's the under-bed bin of Legos, the box of wooden train tracks, and art supplies. The kids mostly love having the closet empty so they can pretend it's an office and play school. And for Hannah's room, it's her jewelry-making set, small set of legos, books, art supplies, and one small bin of baby doll stuff for her one doll. Again, no comments, no complaints. It's amazing.

For now it's still a trial. Everything is neatly stored in basement shelving and not yet gone forever. And I do hope it gets asked for or cycled in in place of something else or whatever. But there is definitely no intention to stuff the rooms full again. Ever.

Simpler is ALWAYS better. Try it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

YOU matter.

We live in a time now in which we basically say to one another via technology, "Want to know about me?? Here I am!!" So we continuously spew about ourselves and go and secretly spy in on one another. Daily. Hourly. Cuz it's so easy. But there's hardly any actual interaction, hardly any real connection. It's just us secretly spying and knowing all about each other's lives. Without genuine thought of I am thinking of you today. How are YOU?

And I'm tired of it.

I want YOU. The real you. And I want you to make a real effort for me too. I want actual relationship. And less mess.

So I unplugged. Without warning. But not without thought.

You know I've struggled with this for a long time.  With the balance. But it's not just that. It's also the sin. And the feelings it causes within ME as I read post after post of people praising themselves for their parenting, their kids, their accomplishments, yada-yada. And at the same time I feel shame because I surely have done that too. So here, right now, I apologize if I have ever publicly patted myself on the back.

Not everything needs shared.  It just doesn't. Technology doesn't need to be ME-focused.  Words always ALWAYS need to be chosen carefully and cautiously and tenderly because in one way or another we are ALL hurting. But oh our thoughts need ever to be reigned in. Why exactly are we sharing all our "thanks" with each other and not simply and earnestly with the Lord?? Can we simply have a good day and relish in the peace it brings?? Are we capable of doing good for another person without broadcasting it?? Humility. It needs to be re-found. As well as peace. And simplicity.

At least for me anyway. 

And I'm striving for that in so many more ways than just that surrounding Facebook. But you will hear about that another day.

So this is my mission: 
To seek out my dearest friends and make real, heartfelt connection with them. I'm old-fashioned and LOVE snail-mail. Do you?? And I love real, inbox messages that aren't junk!
To be present and spend in-real-life facetime with my locals.
To reign in my tongue and my thoughts and spend earnest time in thanks with the Lord himself.
To free myself of relationship clutter and stress that is technology.

I intend to share pictures with close family and friends, but please know this: it in no way portrays all of my life! There is more to my story than that. And a hundred bucks says that's the same for you, so take the time and ask. Make a connection with someone today. When's the last time you really asked, "How ARE you?"