Armed with my handful of black trash bags, I donned my scuba mask (the kind that covers your nose) and heavy-duty gloves, preparing for my trek to the man-child’s room. As I traversed the first mountain of dirty clothes, I regretted my decision not to pack a sandwich. I could be in here for hours! I heard a groan from across the room, then a large lump on the bed whined, “Do we have to do this today?”
“Be brave, Tris” I whispered.
He didn’t get my Divergent joke, or find the mask and gloves the least bit funny.
While almost none of this story is true, (the groaning and trash bags were real) Max was nervous but determined to clear out his stuff. And guess what? We did it!
We spent the morning distracted by friendly visitors, including a very sweet and cuddly 3-month-old named Lillian Grace. When everyone left, I explained my plan to my firstborn and we got to work. Together. That was the key. I could yell and scream at that kid for hours about cleaning up his room, shaming him for letting it get so out of hand, and threatening to take away his birthday, but I decided to try out the adage about catching flies with honey instead of vinegar.
Before we began, I made a list of questions for us to ask as we deliberated over the harder choices of what to part with:
We started at the doorway and chatted while we worked side by side, sorting clothing, shoes, papers, books, trash, and projects.
Oh. My. Word. Max loves projects. He’s a creative spirit and his hands are always moving, shaping, cutting, crafting, carving, and duct-taping. And his room tells the tale. His work table alone qualifies for hoarding status.Well, it did. Now it’s a sleek work space.
All of my children are sentimental, so I wondered if this purging quest would challenge them to tears. I was a bit surprised as I watched Max toss things in the trash I was sure he’d have a reason for keeping. I was prepared to talk him through it, but he was doing fine on his own, so I kept my mouth SHUT! In the case of decluttering, more is better, and there was no way I was slowing that process down.
I didn’t ask him why he kept every scrap of paper his girlfriend has ever given him, or why he needs a dozen green lantern rings, but I was truly puzzled why he had four shoes with no mates. Seriously? Four? How does that even happen?
At the end of the day we had cleared out three large bags of trash, donated over half of his stuff to the thrift store down the street, and discovered he does in fact have carpet in his room.
What did we learn from this hours-long process?
- It’s not about organizing your stuff, it’s about getting rid of stuff so you have less to organize.
- Stuff quickly becomes junk when left on the floor to get stepped on.
- Teenage boys can reach a breaking point with their clutter and beg to just bag everything up and start over.
- It’s possible to have too many pillows and blankets, and pens. The boy has almost as many pens as I do!
- He slept better in his clean space last night, and I slept better knowing we’re almost half way done! We didn’t work on the house today, but tomorrow is all about Zoe’s room, the bathrooms, and hall closets.
I almost forgot! Not only did a friend stop by with Chai, Benny and Zoe purged the kitchen and dining room for me!
How about you? Are you inspired to purge your own house yet? Are you ready to embrace simple minimalism? What is the strangest thing you’ve decluttered? Does it beat four mismatched shoes?
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