Months ago, I moved our unused computer armoire and a chair into my son’s room, to be used as “Lego central.” It gave him space to store his stuff and a nice, large area to spread out on to build; plus, you could close the doors when he wasn’t using it and his room would suddenly (magically!) look cleaner. He loved it. For about two days.
The reality is that my kids would always rather be close to the rest of the family, and not “banished” upstairs in their rooms. So Lego building usually happens on the dining room table. The giant cabinet sat in my son’s room, unused except for storage.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been evaluating what he really needed in his room. The wood-tone cabinet is ginormous (around 2′ x 3′, and 5′ high), and his room isn’t that big, and if the thing isn’t being used for what it was intended for, why is it still in there? It seemed like what he needed was some place to display the items he had built, not a place to actually do the construction. So I painted a tall, narrow bookcase white; six shelves that might show off his creations.
I’d talked to my son a few times about changing things out; he’s not the kind of kid where you can just redo his room and expect him to be happy with the surprise. He had gotten to the point where he completely understood the idea of “why are we keeping this in here? I’m not using it,” and once I heard that understanding, I started asking permission to change things up; once permission was granted, I started warning him that he might come home one day to a change.
Tuesday was the day. I moved the cabinet out, and moved the bookcase in. I rearranged two other furniture pieces in the process, and I took away his area rug to run through the washer. The difference was incredible. (I actually think removing the rug made just as much difference–now there’s a big expanse of carpet, instead of the floor being “broken up” into smaller parts.)
His first response was, “Mom! I like it! I really like it,” which eventually shifted to “I love it!” Finally, he lay on the floor, arms and legs splayed out everywhere, and yelled, “Space! I have space!” And that was the word he kept going back to for the rest of the night. “I have space! Look at all this space!”
If that is the response of a eight-year-old confirmed pack rat, how would the rest of us feel with more space? I don’t mean “a bigger house” more space, I mean “clearing out, getting rid of, making room” more space. I think we’re fooling ourselves when we think “If I just had a bigger house;” in reality, if we had a bigger house, we’d just buy more stuff to fill it up and then moan (again) about how we needed a bigger house. Instead, work backwards. Edit. This is what I have; what can I get rid of? What am I not using? What is just taking up space? Or, the definition of our computer cabinet: What was a good idea in one house, that is not working in this one? What one item would make me feel twenty pounds lighter if I got rid of it? Is there someone I know that could really use this item? Or do I just need to donate it to a charity?
There is something very calming about having space around you; space to move, space to breathe. What can you get rid of today that will contribute to “space,” and that feeling of a more peaceful home?