Keeping the process simple

I worked with a mother and her kids. We worked in the family room. There were toys all over. The toys were in bins, on tables, and also laying out on the floors. The mother was distraught. She was overwhelmed by the disorder. She was trying to get the kids to behave and work with me. But they just wanted to play with their toys.

I picked one bin and started asking the kids about each toy. I wanted to know if they played with it or not. I asked in an easy way so that they could keep playing, but still hear and answer me. They were very receptive. It was always a clear yes or no. There were no maybes.

Their mom was astounded that they could decide so quickly. I think she had previously tried to create order out of the space by organizing all the toys. But that never works because the disorder is caused by the presence of the clutter.

We finished in about three hours. There were a lot of big bags of toys that would be going to charity. There were a few trash bags of busted toys that went in the trash. The kids loved the new open space. They spread their toys out and had a good time.

I think it helps that I keep the whole process very matter of fact. I'm looking for either a yes or no. I trust people's ability to know whether they like something or not. I know if I asked too many questions, they'd start thinking too much and it would be hard to make a decision.

I'm encouraging you to take this matter of fact look at the things in your environment now that we are approaching the end of 2009. There are some things in all of our homes that supported us this past year that can now go. It feels good to start fresh. You can be like those kids, spreading out your toys and having a good time.