Monday, March 8, 2010

A Revolving Door & A Nagging Heart

Part One:  A Revolving Door

Some of you may remember my post at the beginning of the school year where I showed you pictures of our homeschool room.  Here's a refresher if you've forgotten....

Yeah.  That was then.  This is now.

The rest of the room has a similar theme, but my lens isn't wide enough. 

This is what happens when my children and I are home all day, for six months, every day, together, learning, playing, running around, chasing, dressing up, building, reading and fighting (Oops.  Did I just write that?).  There are trails of socks, paper airplanes, dress-up clothes, legos, drawings, paper snippets, plastic animals, books, all manner of toys, etc.  My point is that it's exceedingly hard to keep things tidy when everyone is home ALL THE TIME.

I get one room organized and as I move onto the next, the kids seem to migrate into the one I just straightened.  It goes on like this all day every day.  It's the revolving door.  No, it's ONE of the revolving doors.  The others would be laundry, meal preparation, dishes, cleaning, bill paying, etc.  You get the drift.  It is the story of our lives.  I accept this story.  Wholeheartedly.  But, that does NOT mean I enjoy the revolving door theme.  Most days, not so much.

I do enjoy the revolving doors that are made up of things like baby smiles, little girl hugs, flashing big boy grins and giggles.  Those I can handle just fine.  Okay- back to how my house is a mess. 

I rarely pick up a toy anymore.  I stopped being a sucker (no offense if you still pick up toys) a long time ago.  Instead I have the kids clean up their toys.  A fabulous time for this is just prior to TV time (which is mostly videos at our house).  If they know they can't watch until everything is picked up to my liking, they can be very industrious.

I've had to make some internal changes over the years.  I used to be an incredible neat freak.  I would dust and vacuum every week when Jamey and I were first married- when it was ONLY US!  It certainly didn't need it.  Now I dust when company is coming.  I do vacuum a lot.  I still can't stand a dirty floor.  Toilets?  Well, let's not talk about those right now.  Ask me about those tomorrow.  Or the next day.  In a nut shell, I have been able to let go of a lot.

My biggest challenge these days is finding a home for all the kids' toys and crafts.  Just before Christmas each year, the kids and I go through all their toys and make room in the toy cabinets for their Christmas presents.  We donate their old toys.  This frees up space and works great, but they accumulate a lot through out the year, too.  Here is a great post about keeping your house in order.  I've started adopting some of her tactics and things are looking better around here.

I've adapted somewhat to the clutter that comes with three children (and a husband), but scenes like the one above make my skin crawl for a couple reasons.  I need to get a better handle.

Part Two:  A Nagging Heart

So, here is what I find sad.  That this is a "problem".  It seems ridiculous to complain about all the nice things and toys our children have to play with that may be a challenge to keep organized and put away.  But that's not the part that is really sad to me.

What really makes me sad is that our kids have all this stuff in the first place.  The money that has been spent on their entertainment could feed a lot of hungry kids who are playing with sticks and stones in the dirt.  We've played a huge part in this ourselves.  We hold birthday parties.  We make up Christmas lists, carrying out our parenting duties like (what seems like) everyone else.

Don't get me wrong.  I want more for my kids than sticks and stones, but how are they going to grow up having compassion if they can't relate at all?  And how are they going to reconcile their cushy lives with the lives they'll learn of as they grow older?

Stuff is stuff.  It does not make children truly happy.  It does not make them feel loved.  Not in the ways I want my children to be happy and to feel love.  I want them to be happy for and feel love for others.  I don't want them to expect to be handed everything they want and wish for.  That's not life for most of the people on this planet.

What am I saying?  I guess I'm saying I wish things were different.  I pray for the courage to set limits, to put values ahead of what would be the easier path to take.  I want to be obedient to this nagging in my heart which says all this stuff is not right.  Revolving door aside. Pin It


  1. Well said. I think this applies to all of us, not just kids. Though their stuff seems more glaring.

  2. Oh my. I have been struggling with this very same thing lately. And our oldest is only 2! We have done pretty well at keeping gift giving to a minimum when it comes to the children but when we buy things for ourselves/the house? That's a different story! It's so sad. I need to pray about this too. Maybe after I'm done with that, I'll go sort through some "stuff" and ship it off to the gift and thrift store. Let MCC use the money to help out those who need it much more than myself. Come to think of it, I have a few boxes of stuff I was going to sell at a garage sale this spring. Maybe I'll go up to the attic, retrieve those, and donate them! Thank you so much for this post!

  3. I like your cleaning philosophy! I'm the same way...I wish I were more of a clean freak. But...I'm not. And I won't talk to you about your toilets if you don't talk to me about mine!

  4. Wow...awesome post. I too struggle with having the house in a perpetual state of "lived in". I am really working hard (praying harder) to not blow my top everytime I clean something and two minutes later it's messed up again.

  5. I know we are kindred spirits when I read a post like this! Perfectionism isn't for motherhood! However, I found that after a while, I got very grumpy when my house became a big mess. So I had to be diligent about training my girls to pick up. I remember getting upset with my oldest one time years ago and saying "When you grow up, if you want to keep a messy house, that's up to ---". I stopped right there and then said this, "No, you will NOT keep a messy house when you are married, because you will have a husband and children to love and take care of and HE won't want to live like this!". Now, let me assure you we are not perfectly tidy people, but as they've gotten older, it has improved greatly! I don't have to nag (much!). As the kids get older, if they don't pick up, I just walk around at night with a bag or something, collect the items that are theirs and put them away in the closet for a LONG TIME. (I do remind them once before bed to get things picked up).

    As for the play items - if I had to do it over again, I would carefully choose only toys that stimulate the imagination, were mostly hand made, and of high quality. Add in a few educational items and that's about it. Things like a doll, a cape, a bow/arrow, a wooden puzzle (check out Liberty Puzzles), things like that.

  6. 1. Ahem. (Wink.) WELL SAID!

    2. I thought that photo was beautiful---the one of the lived-in room.

    3. Just for the record, all you faithful readers of ThyHand: I stepped inside her home late this morning and the house was gorgeous, both clean AND lived-in. A few things were sitting around, projects were going, a bunch of eggs were resting on a plastic lid on the stove top, a candle was burning. ThyHand was upstairs with the baby, and her husband was outside with S and S and three of my revolving-door, chaos makers. It was idyllic and real and peaceful.

  7. So jealous of Jennifer Jo... I'm sure those eggs were beauties, and the candle was warm and glowing. So kindred are the friends I've made in blog land, and so thankful am I.
    Is it the onions I just chopped or the goodness I can sense tearing my eyes? poetic am I while my 3yo sleeps, but when he wakes... EEEk!
    Revolving door, chaos abounds. I'm a mess, ...
    the other day, ... oh forget it, I don't even have the time, but I do want to share that I've re-thought the whole 'stuff' thing, over and over.. & I am currently working on how to compensate my 6yo for chores. I'm opposed to allowance, but ? so I'm back to a quarter per chore, done with a cheerful attitude(only). I'm perplexed for all the things/stuff.
    I'm perplexed at how I've fallen prey to the advertisers, modern parenting magazines, playgroup discussions, & won't even go into the gifting occasions. We, even dh is feeling a little weird about all this.
    Anyhow, thinking with you on these things.
    Will be posting 'take-aways' from 'Bringing up Boy's' by Dobson, one of which is his take on allowances.
    have a super day- So well written, thanks for taking the time.

  8. To quote JJ "It was idyllic and real and peaceful." What more could you hope for? Life is good... and you know it... and that's what counts :)

  9. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “stuff.” Especially since I’m currently boxing it up and moving it to NH. So far, we’ve taken only the “necessities” up. That’s what we called the stuff we just moved. But, it was more than that. Way more. I know life isn’t about stuff. So why do we have so much of it?

  10. Oh my word - are we living the same life. I know JJ said your house looked cleaned and lived in.....I have no problem believing it was more clean then lived in---- ;)

    If I took a picture of our school room at the beginning of the week you would have wondered how we learn anything in it! Now that I'm doing two it makes it oh so much harder to keep up.....

    It's funny or ironic, that you mention stuff....we've got two birthday's coming up in April, for two of the kids plus Easter (we don't do much, but we are a sugar free family & the kids are allergic to corn) we don't do candy in the Easter Basket, so it ends up being stuff from the dollar store or a book, music CD or something to celebrate what Jesus did! It ends up being just more stuff to clean up!

    My parents have the gift of giving.....I would not say they are overboard at all, Christmas and Birthday are well within the "safe" range, but 3 kids = so much stuff! Yeah, just trying to figure it out too........

    Maybe piano lessons for Easter would be a better idea......then they could just play for Jesus....the gift that keeps giving ;)

    I hear what you saying too about giving to others.....B & I were just talking about this last night. How do we teach our kids to give and tithe and save?

    Now that I written my own blog post in your comments section, I'll sign off!

    Love reading your blog!

  11. Having recently become a stalker/friend, it's neat to go back and see the evolution of the thought process that's brought you to all the things you've shared this week. I've been having my own nagging heart the last couple of months - I grew up with having a LOT of toys and stuff, and then moved out and got new stuff, and more stuff... and you're right. It's just stuff.

    There's some things that have meaning, some things that make me smile, but mostly a lot of the things just hold me back from being me, because I feel hidden behind it. The excavation of the clutter has begun and the more stuff you get rid of, the more open life seems to be.


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