When I was little my mom would make us clean our rooms. It was a bitter wind that blew on room cleaning days because… how dare she? She taught us life skills and we wept bitterly.
Now I have kids of my own and I’ve taken room cleaning to a whole new level. It’s a level born of necessity. It’s a level born of not doing a thorough cleaning or decluttering in the nine years we’ve lived in this house. It’s a level that combines the Grinch with Dr. Robin Zasio from Hoarders. On their walls I left nothing but hooks and some wire.
I recently read an AWESOME book about decluttering, nay THE awesome book about decluttering, I’ve read a few and this one is true. What I like so much about her approach is that it’s less about getting rid of stuff and more about choosing to keep the things that bring you joy and only the things that bring you joy. You can have something and it can be nice or useful but if it doesn’t spark joy, you don’t need it. She also talks about how to let go of things with gratitude once they’ve fulfilled their purpose in your life. It’s very Zen.
Thank you for being such a fun pair of socks and fulfilling your purpose by being on sale for a dollar. I had so much fun purchasing you and wearing you once. Goodbye.
Thank you for being a fun scarf that I received as a gift. I felt very loved and surprised when I received you. That feeling of love and surprise were your reason for existing. But that doesn’t mean I have to like you or feel guilty for not wearing you every time I walk past you in my closet. Farewell.
So, I’ve been decluttering for weeks, prepping for spring break when the real fun would start. And it started today. All of these steps are to be accomplished with the kids’ assistance.
Step one. Wash all the laundry in the entire world so we’d know what clothes we had.
Step two. Remove everything from my children’s rooms but their furniture and their clothes, which we heaped up on their beds. Books are lined up along the walls in the hall to be sorted later. Everything else is staged in various rooms throughout the house by category.
Step three. Deep clean every crevice and baseboard and vacuum under the furniture.
Step four. While moving furniture to clean, agree that the kids can put their furniture anywhere they want it, even if, especially if, that furniture placement is completely an ordinance of crazy town.
Step five. Sort their clothes one piece at a time, donating anything that doesn’t fit, doesn’t look good, or doesn’t make us feel happy.
This is where we stopped tonight after working pretty much solid from 9am to 9pm.
Steps six through a billion. Repeat the sorting process with one category per day throughout spring break, taking time each afternoon to do something fabulous as a reward. By fabulous I mean getting a free ice cream cone at Ben and Jerry’s on the 14th because it’s free ice cream day or buying new bedroom curtains at IKEA on Friday if we’ve gotten all of our cleaning done.
The trick here is that they love their newly cleaned and stripped rooms so much that I’m hoping they will be loath to add too much junk back into them and I think it’s working. A few choice quotes from today:
Wanda – “Hey mom. It’s weird. I actually like cleaning.”
Laylee – When asked to choose one thing she’s thankful for to add to our family prayer, she said, “I’m thankful for cleaning.”
Yes. That happened. I did not faint or cry. I didn’t even twirl my mustache or cackle with glee. I just added it to the ever-living prayer. We are thankful for cleaning. Yep. Because that’s a thing that average 12-year-olds say all the time.
Magoo – I want to add as few things back to my room as possible because it’s awesome right now.
To my credit, I was DJ-ing some wicked sick tunes while we cleaned and I let the level of silliness climb about 86.3% higher than I’m generally comfortable with. I also helped them move their furniture into (and I cannot emphasize this enough) possibly the weirdest and most-likely-to-make-Feng-Shui-certified-home-decorators-bludgeon-themselves-with-their-own-energy-cures configurations possible. Because I am the nicest and most chill mom ever and because I had the nicest and most chill mom ever who let me do wickedly stupid things with my furniture when I was a kid and because Laylee said moving things around would make it feel like a whole new room and I could not argue with that.
Twelve hours and one category in and we’ve gathered 2 big black garbage bags of trash and 3 big black garbage bags of donations. And Laylee is thankful for cleaning. So basically the apocalypse is nigh. Stock up on wheat and ammunition.