In a large family of packrats, I need to think VERY hard about what I allow to come into the house in the first place. Sometimes I am very good at this. Sometimes I start to let things slide by and the house begins to fall into chaos again.
This Spring, I made two mistakes. They seemed like good useful items at the time. The first one was a train table to replace our coffee table so that our younger kids could use their Thomas the Tank Engine train pieces regularly. The second one was a pile of bean bags to free up couch space for older family members while younger ones sat on the floor. Good ideas, right?
Well, maybe not such bad ideas if I didn't already have an extra piece of furniture in my living room ... a futon couch that we all know needs to go, but we haven't taken the time to find it a new home. (And moving it out will mean moving a very large bookshelf in the hallway ... again. That was another bad idea of mine.)
But, besides the space issue, my one year old quickly dismantled the trainset glued to the top of the train table. Literally -- within two days. So it was perpetually in a state of disarray with pieces scattered all over it. When other toys were set on it, they just blended in with the train pieces and were ignored by "picker-uppers". It was always cluttered!
The bean bags were continually either piled on one end of the futon, making it non-usable, or scattered all over the living room floor, making it un-walkable. Part of the problem there was that there were just too many of them. Several of them needed to be combined because they were too thin, but the zippers had been disabled by the previous owner so I hadn't yet taken the time to try to overcome that. Instead of a few useful beanbags, we had a floor full of flat beanbags.
Today I had enough. I re-glued the train table track in place. I'm trying to decide if it needs to find a new home so I can have my regular coffee table back. I think it needs to go, but some of the children disagree, and people-pleaser Mom struggles with being the bad guy.
While the train table glue was drying, I cut open two bean bags, wrangled two other zippers open, and combined four bean bags into two. My advice ... if you ever decide to do this ... turn off the fans. Or follow your husband's advice and take it outside. (I was going to combine another two, leaving us with only 3 bean bags, but have been temporarily stalled by a child's plea. We'll try four bean bags for awhile. Besides, I've already vacuumed the living room 3 times today.)
I'm now firmly committed (again) to thinking very CAREFULLY about everything that enters our home.
- How will it be used?
- How often will it be used?
- Do I have a place for it?
- Will something else have to go to make room for it?
- Is it worth the effort to make that switch?
- Do I really need it?
- Do I have something else that will work instead?
- Will we get tired of it quickly?
In the meantime, I just joined FlyLady again today to try to get a handle on the clutter in our home. It's been years since I was a FlyBaby ... but I've gotten over my aversion to wearing shoes, so maybe I'll do better this time.