Friday, August 14, 2015

The Case for 16 Crayons

Art is more than a hobby around here.  It’s an indispensable part of our lives.  Art supplies and handmade creations adorn much of our house, and the ones that aren’t hanging from the walls, the fridge, or all available doors are stuffed in a holding box ready for rotation.

This is why we somehow accumulated about 472 crayons. 

Crayons are the best, really, and coloring is a soothing activity.  However, the crayons were struggling.  Overused and under cared for, they were turning into greasy inch long blotches of color thrown all over the carpet.  Dennis had a novel idea:  replace them with new crayons, one box for each older kid, 16 crayons for each child to love and tend to, to keep up with and put back in the box until the death of the crayon by breaking or just being used up.

This idea was genius.  Now instead of losing, breaking, or just overall not caring about the million crayons, Wren and Sam are using 16 crayons a piece for everything.  They can locate them at all times; they take really good care of them.  We are preparing to dump the other 400 crayons, and we expect that no one will even notice. 

I decided to test this theory a bit further when we went to visit family out of town last weekend.  Instead of packing a ton of just in case items, I went minimal:  six people with two outfits a piece, one of which they were wearing on the ride.  Nanny has a washer so we washed.  The kids lived in their bathing suits (is that considered a third outfit?) most of the weekend.  Guess what?  Nobody cared.  We just kept rotating clothes and it was fine.  I mean, my kids didn’t bathe for four days and didn’t notice.  Why would they notice they were wearing the same clothes the whole weekend?

This confirms what I’ve thought was probably true all along:  we have too many things.  Our kids have too many things.  Our lessons about taking care of what you have and about how material items don’t lead to happiness have been overshadowed by all the crap leaking out of closets and toy bins. 

I’ve been hesitant to go all out and claim Armageddon on most of the things we own, mainly because my default mode is extreme.  I’m working on it, but grey is not even a color I understand.  While cleaning out the hall closet, I started throwing what some might see as “sentimental items” in the give away bin and D stopped me.

“Those are from your childhood!”

“I’ve got tons of stuff from my childhood.  Can’t keep it all.”

“Okay, that’s fair, but maybe keep some of it.”

“It would be liberating to get rid of all of it though, right? Just imagine all that empty shelf space!”

“I’m going to supervise this closet binge.”

I didn’t get rid of all of it, but I want to maintain some level of control over what comes into our house and what stays in our house, what takes up our space and therefore tries to attach significance to itself that isn’t real. 

As a minimalist, this shouldn’t be a hard battle to fight.  But as a minimalist, how did we end up with all this crap? 

I’m going to keep fighting the good fight in all of our closets, the garage, all the places we stuff things we don’t have a place for.  I’m starting to think if we don’t have a place for an item or a specified use for it, it probably needs to go.  This will satisfy my minimalist tendencies, teach my kids about need versus never ending want and help this constantly disorganized mommy have less things to manage.  

No comments:

Post a Comment