In yoga and meditation there is often speak of a deep cleansing breath. Inhale- breathe in peace, calm, clarity, health, wellness.. Exhale - breathe out tension, fear, judgement, sickness. Ahhhh.. It feels good to let it all go. I am embarking on an overall deep cleanse right now. Mental, emotional, and physical. Today I really focused on the physical by attacking my surroundings, and even more so my children's surroundings. As a designer I have a real care for how things look. I think about color, dimension, texture, and the majority of things in our space as a family are well thought out with reason for function, feel, and energy which they bring to a space. The one area where I have let this go out of control is all my kids "stuff".
Let's start by saying they do not go without. There is a ton of this stuff. When we found out we were pregnant with S we had all these ideals on how we would be as parents and what type of environment we would raise her in. While I can proudly say we have stuck to the major ones there are a few- such as "we will never own toys made of plastic or that require batteries or god forbid with any type of character especially Disney"- that we let slip. And it has been a slippery slope. While I have detached for the most part to this objective (and for many good reasons I swear) I certainly do not want our playroom to be mistaken for the Vegas strip (and for many reasons good reasons I swear).
I do not want my children to be surrounded by toys that do the thinking for them. I want them to problem solve, imagine, invent, create, and dream. They need not be overstimulated, over indulged, or over-engulfed in consumerism and marketing. It is really easy to own stuff. Lots of stuff. Living in an upper class area where all the kids have endless amounts of stuff it is going to be a hard struggle to keep my kids from forming too much attachment and assigning to much value to stuff. It has not been just once that S has muttered "what toys does she/he have?" when I tell her we will be visiting another child to play. My skin crawls with the thought that this is her priority, and I need to remind myself she is all but 2 years old. I remind her "we are playing with him/her because they are"- kind, silly, fun, full of interesting ideas, very clever, or our friend. I see so many adults in this urban suburbia that don't think like this so I shouldn't expect innocent little her to fully express this reasoning. I see so many people looking around and judging others and themselves on their lot size, street name, square footage, district, car, income, title, carats, clothing, handbag, the list goes on and on and on.. It was actually a big reason why we were hesitant to move here, but we did and we promised ourselves we would not become like that and even more so we would not allow our children to become like that. We must lead by example and exercise daily our ability to transcend the gluttony, the temptation, the judgement, the pressure. Not so easy to do when you really like "stuff".
So today I started to define the path in a simple way, clearing out some of their stuff. I packed away bags and boxes filled with toys leaving out a simple assortment of neatly arranged things that are developmentally appropriate and leave room for imagination and exploration. I can be honest, they will not exactly be going without as our playroom is big enough to run a flagship toysRus out of but still, I cut down enough that I thought S would enter the playroom and burst into tears wondering where all her things had gone. Mind you she didn't even notice so what does that say?!
My plan is to rotate the toys out every 4-8 weeks or so in hopes that the change peaks their interest and anything that seems to go unused will go into a donate bin. By offering a smaller and neatly arranged selection I'm hoping they learn about organization, function, and thoroughly explore and enjoy what it is they do have while getting accustomed to and eventually preferring to be in an environment that is calm, clean, and aesthetically pleasing. And they can learn that you can be happy and enjoy yourself and live your life fully without the need for more and bigger and better stuff, they can not feel the need to reflect themselves or their worth by stuff, or to feel that their stuff is in any way a reflection of who they are or what they are worth, or to judge anyone else by how much or what stuff that they have.