Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I'm Trying To Inspire You

I know it's been quite, quite, some time since I've written on here. Maybe someday I will go into why, but in the meantime, I decided to stop shriveling in horror every time I walked past the utter disaster that was my sons' toy/game room, and I put on my diamond armor (we're colon-deep into the Minecraft world here) and attacked that room with the viciousness of a rabid dog in heat. 

I jotted down some thoughts about the process with the hope that I can inspire you to de-clutter as well. It feels so good, you guys. I practically skip down the hall past the toy room now, pigtails fluttering in the breeze.

**This is a tough love approach so don't be all sensitive.**

First, create ambiance. No seriously. You can't do this without some attempt at making your environment pleasant. My suggestions:

  • Drink one or two drinks beforehand, then take a shot then pour yourself a large drink to take with you when you enter your personal seventh circle. It really loosens you up and helps with the "I don't give a shit, TOSS IT" mindset you're going to need.

  • Put on some music. Or if TV is your thing, put it on or bring your laptop or whatever. I put an 80s station on Pandora and it was like a painkiller/happy pill combo. 

  • Make sure the kids are nowhere in sight. Not only do you need to concentrate, they don't need to see you throwing out their coveted plastic piece of shit that they haven't seen in four years but is suddenly the toy they will die without. I spent my valuable kids-are-in-bed-FUCK-YEAH time to do this and it was time well spent.

  • Be prepared to dedicate a minimum of two hours to this life-changing project.

Second, bring multiple bags. One for recycling, one for trash, one for donation, one more for recycling, then two more for trash, then one more for the what the hell is this but I'm not sure I should throw it out pile (eventually, you'll just throw it all out, FYI), and one for the crap that belongs elsewhere in the house. 

And maybe one more for trash, and one for the stuff you find that belongs to other people not residing with you (I'm NOT kidding, you'll see).

P.S., Nina, I have a big surprise for you...

Okay, now you're ready. But I get it, you take one look at the sandstorm that's in front of you and you immediately want to give up. Don't do that. You suck if you quit, you quitter. 

Here's a big tip: To start, zero in on the one thing on the floor that just pisses you right off. Pick it up and throw it the fuck away. Just throw it in the trash. You can do it. It's so liberating. 

For me, it was these math flash cards. There are at least 400 of them I swear to Christ, and they never use them for the intended purpose. Apparently, they are math wizards (they're not) so they don't need them and every day is someone's birthday somewhere in the world so let's throw those fuckers around like confetti to celebrate! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STRANGERS!

I pick them up every month. Or tell them to. No more.

I felt guilty at first because it's like, those cards are educational, but wake-up call... When they're not being used as their intended purpose, and never will be, let that shit GO.

Once you've started with anger, you're good to go. Anger is a great kickstarter. Just dig in and start tossing, sorting, tossing, separating, tossing, organizing, and tossing some more. You got this. Just keep tossing. And you'll realize how good it feels to purge, purge, purge, and then you'll purge even more. It's like a cleaning orgasm that builds and builds upon itself.

Some tips for along the way:

1. You will doubt whether or not you should throw something away. Every other toy. Be realistic. You KNOW what they really play with. Trust yourself.

The second you find yourself thinking, well, maaaybe one day they'll play with it... just slap yourself. Slap yourself right in the fucking face and throw that damn toy away. Be reasonable. No they are not going to play with that toy, ever again. They won't even notice it's missing. 

They are probably so overwhelmed with the sheer amount of "options" they have to play with that they likely have mini-seizures every time they walk into the room. It has taken me eight years to realize this. Do them the favor and throw that shit away.

2. Know the toy's value.

Just because they played with it for 12 seconds last week, that is no reason to hang on to it. If it doesn't command at least 10-30 or more minutes of their attention (read between the lines there) then it is garbage and therefore belongs there. 

Example: This amazing thing. 

I held onto not one but three of them for as many years. Because I suck. Because they're BIG. And they came from a Happy Meal. And I had that, well maybe one day... bullshit thought. I finally really looked at it and realized that its sole purpose is to turn the yellow crank/tree penis and OHMIGAWD, the monkeys and elephant will totter up and down!

That wouldn't entertain a six-month-old for longer than ten seconds, much less a four- or six-year-old. They are all in the garbage and my soul weighs 18 less ounces.

3. You will triple their Lego collection. It's a total win-lose situation. They win, you lose.

I mean, where else do you think those tiny evil bastards go when you're not being brought to your knees by stepping on them? To every crevice in your house's existence. And you will find them. And find more. And find even more. Pretty sure they are having orgies in those dark corners and multiplying like motherfuckers.

4. While it's tempting to bulk-toss the massive amounts of paper/schoolwork/"art" you come across, take the time to go through each piece. I found some true gems that I never knew existed, like this:

That sweet boy adores his Mama and it will never get old. At least until he's 16, then it'll be a bit creepy and weird. 

But also have some sense about what you keep. Again, know the value. Trust your eye, and you'll know what to keep. 

I mean, I kept this?

But this: 

Was definitely worth keeping. It's no Monet but it's a pretty good piece done by my then-six-year-old. Just remember that you are going to be buried in your child's schoolwork and artwork, enough to craft yourself paper wardrobes for the rest of your life, so you can afford to be choosy.

Tip: Artwork with glitter or other shedding things on them are to immediately be put in the garbage pile. No regrets. Think about it... has ANY van Gogh, Picasso, Chagall, Munch, etc. painting ever featured glitter or yarn or beads?


For a fucking reason.

5. Figure out the mess and annoyance factor. Be tough. Be honest with yourself. Do you cower in horror every time they play with it? TOSS IT.

Things with more than, say, ten pieces? With few exceptions (see #2), TOSS IT.

Does it make the noise of a thousand screaming banshees in the throes of menopausal rage? TOSS IT.

Just think of the peace your whole house will experience. Think of their hearing. You're saving their ears' lives.

More tips: Take an allergy pill, wear a dust mask (and probably gloves, or better yet, a full-body condom), and close your mind to the disturbing shit you find. Oh, and carry wet and dry rags and clean while you're deep in that dark hole. Might as well. I miraculously didn't find anything too disturbing (don't know how), but a couple of weeks ago I pulled out their bunk bed and found dried puke on the wall and carpet edge. I'd given up on wondering why their bedroom smelled like fermented juice and old shrimp. Figured it was par for the course with boys.

Once you've purged (and I mean more than the contents of your guts), organize like a motherfucker. I genuinely wish I could provide organizing tips for you but I swear to Christ, if I had the golden ticket answer to organizing kids' precious objects in some sensible, practical, real-life way that actually was maintainable on a daily basis, not only would I share it with you but I'd be a multi-millionaire. I've ripped my already-hormonally-thinning hair out trying to figure out a way to make those cute little fuckers understand how to consistently put the balls back in the fucking BALL BUCKET but I've finally realized:

They're kids.

And kids don't give a fuck about the balls being in the fucking ball bucket. 

They won't until they're close to being adults and the state of their living quarters directly reflects on them personally. And even then... questionable.

And, I'm an adult who has better things to do than Type-A supervise my kids' every playing moment and subsequent clean-up, (although I'm seriously getting really close) so in the meantime- many years later- I've finally realized: 

The less they have to throw around, the less they will throw around. Less stuff is bliss. It's so much more manageable. 

And they are really not bored. They actually play and use their imaginations instead of stroke out from over-stimulation every time they walk into the toy room. Kids are beautifully simple and do not require much. 

I wish I had some before and after pictures for the post but inspiration to write about it didn't strike until I was like 70% finished. Hindsight is 20/20, but I'm legally blind so I was pretty much screwed all around. I do, however, have this after picture of my face. Look at the peace and bliss. AAAAHHHHHH. 

You too, could have peace and bliss. Go throw some crap out!

If you have some tips to add, especially ones based on organization, help out and throw them down in the comments.

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