I try to get in the habit of spring cleaning in the Spring and dusting cobwebs in the fall. I really do. But last night, I realized something about myself that seems very telling.
I don’t ever intend to do it. I have every intention thoroughly scrubbing the house top to bottom with the equinoxes. But I never plan on spending New Year’s Eve cleaning. Yet, every year since my children have been born, with the exception of two (the years they actually were born), I do just that.
And there’s something poetic about that. Something about that makes a little bit more sense than tidying up for the change of seasons. It’s therapeutic, taking all the clutter and the mess the last year has left behind and tossing it out in the garbage in time to welcome the new year.
Spring cleaning has always meant, to me, opening up all the windows and letting in the fresh air – also beneficial. And in the fall, my mind is always set to getting rid of the dust so as to keep our lungs and bodies healthy as we prepare to spend most of our time indoors. Functional purposes, and with merit. But nothing so encouraging and inherently spiritual as cleaning to bring in a new year.
My intent was strictly functional. Starting today, my children will live with me full-time. They’re moving their belongings over from their dad’s house – combining two houses into one. I needed to make room for their stuff. (And here, I can’t help but think about George Carlin’s bit about how houses are simply containers for our stuff)
They have tons of books and toys and clothes here already. They have just as much at their dad’s house. And we’re doing our last family Christmas today, in which they get to open myriad presents from their aunts and uncles and grandparents. My brother has loaded two vehicles FULL of presents – and one of them is a Jeep Cherokee. Ay yi yi…
So last night, I made room. I threw out things I knew wouldn’t be missed – the broken toys at the bottom of the boxes. I transferred things from one room to another. I vacuumed. Oh, Lord, did I vaccum. It was nice. This morning, I will finish my daughter’s room – it should be a piece of cake because she’s kind of a neatnik.
But that’s just the beginning.
Once they’re in and all their things have been moved in, and we open all those Christmas presents, we have to get rid of stuff. We just don’t have room for all of it.
I’ve thought about taking a tub and filling it with toys to stash away until we move this spring. Then they’ll have “new” toys to get excited about all over again.
But really, we have so much, and others have so little. And we’re about to be blessed with more than we’ve ever dreamed of having. There’s no sense in hanging on to so much junk.
The problem is, I don’t know how to go about conveying this to my four and six year olds. The world still very much revolves around them. When we start sorting through their things, even the broken old forgotten toys are precious as Gollum’s ring. Seriously, I try and throw that stuff out, and I have two little Gollums on my hands.
How do you help your kids decide what’s important to keep, and what it’s time to part with?