Posted on 30-07-2010
Filed Under (Simplifying) by admin

A few weeks ago, I went on a stealth decluttering binge in my son’s room when he spent the day with Grandma. Armed with a big, empty box, I crossed the border into The Land of Mess and excavated every drawer, shelf and crevice, trying to weed out the excess and bring a sense of order to the out-of-control chaos that had become Parker’s room.

Granted, Parker can get pretty creative, often fashioning broken and disparate possessions into a new toy. (Kevin often refers to him as our Little McGyver, the 80s TV character who could escape a North Korean prison with just a toothpick, a piece of string and a little ingenuity.) Creativity aside, Parker simply had too much stuff.

As I wondered how Parker accumulated all these things, I quickly realized that he was only partly to blame. Yes, he’s a packrat, saving everything from armless action figures to old shoelaces to used paper placemats from our favorite Mexican restaurant. But he’s also the passive recipient of hand-me-down clothes, birthday party favors, good-behavior treasure box prizes from school, Christmas gifts, book store splurges, dollar store treats and the ubiquitous Happy Meal toys.

Anyway, hours later, I emerged with a large cache of clothes, toys and books, along with a small wastebasket of throw-aways. With my simplification mission complete, I worried Parker might get mad that I confiscated…um, redirected…his stuff. To my surprise, he thanked me for cleaning his room and told me how good it felt to have it tidy. He didn’t miss one thing! On the contrary, he seemed almost relieved to enter a clutter-free, orderly room that invited him in to play rather than overwhelmed him with too many choices and too much to clean, sort and organize.

 Interestingly, Parker’s behavior (which had become quite disrespectful and defiant lately) improved dramatically since The Big Declutter. Was it a coincidence? Did the clutter contribute to the disobedience? I’ve got zero scientific proof to back up the connection between the two, but I can’t ignore the noticeable difference in Parker’s attitude and behavior. I’ve learned not to question how or why – just to be quiet and enjoy the results.

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Posted on 13-07-2010
Filed Under (Balance, Simplifying, Slowing Down) by admin

When did life at warp speed become the norm? “Bigger, better, faster, more, NOW!” life seems to scream at me on a daily basis.

I noticed the pressure to hurry creeping into my life even when my kids were toddlers:

     “Quick, sign your kids up for preschool before the spots are all filled.”

     “Hurry, you’ve got to get the boys in Little League when they’re young or their skills will lag behind the other players by the time they’re eight.”

     “What do you mean you haven’t registered your kids for Summer Camp yet? It’s already February!” 

It seduces you, this pressure to keep pace with the world, to give kids a jumpstart on the road to success. And, for a while, it sucked us in like a vacuum hose caught on a curtain. We just couldn’t shake loose the activities that, unwittingly, had piled up on our family’s plate. How did we reach this point of too much? More importantly, how did we escape?

Our escape route started with a pause. We temporarily put the brakes on our hectic lifestyle, allowing us time to reflect on what was working and what wasn’t. We noticed that, on our overscheduled days (while fun and productive), we all felt tired and irritable. After talking about which activities we truly valued, we pared down our commitments to a more palatable level, which automatically built in more downtime.

I’m aware that we’re practically counter-culture when we say, “No, thanks” to more “enrichment” opportunities that promise to fast-track our kids to superstardom. Instead, we get to relish all the free time that awaits us…time to dream, relax, create, explore and simply enjoy being together.

For tips and ideas about slowing down the pace of your life, click here

Lisa A. Beach
SPARK Mom & Founder

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