SPRINGTIME PART 1: DECLUTTER
It feels very fitting to declutter in Springtime. Cleansing after the winter. The time of year when we shift from our 'inside' lives to the outdoors and it comes naturally to play more at floating celandine flowers in puddles, stirring them with sticks and filling buckets with mud than anything else.
Since Linny was born I feel as if I've waged a battle against her toys ; the toys other people buy for her, the toys we have bought for her, the toys she has inherited that used to belong to Florent or I, the toys we have found, generously placed on garden walls to give away...
There are a number of reasons for this battle ;
- I don't think children need a lot of toys. I think having mountains of things can be overwhelming for them and I think too many toys can begin to restrict their imagination.
- I hate unexpectedly standing on small pieces of plastic.
- I don't want to spend unneccessary amounts of time picking up toys and tidying them away and/ or telling my daughters to tidy up. (My sisters and I have an irrational adversity to vacuum cleaners which we believe to be born out of our mother's vacuuming ritual where she would give us an alloted amount of time to clear up before she'd come roaring in with the vacuum, it's plastic head ploughing through the litter of shells, my little ponies and plastacine models, sucking up anything small enough. Later we might be allowed to fish through the dirt in the vaccum bag to search out a baby frog Sylvanian but these episodes have marked us all.)
- Some toys are almost disposable, breaking almost instantly in clumsy hands, a short detour on an almost direct route from factory to landfill. I don't think it is a responsible way to teach my children about material things in our fragile world.
- Some toys are manufactured in a way that causes misfortune to other children elsewhere in the world ; pollution, parents working in terrible conditions for pitiful wages...
However, despite the above list, I don't want to evangelise. I am certainly not writing from a moral high ground. For the most part I feel I have failed in restricting my children's toys to a minimum. I feel they have far too many things. I have come to realise that people love offering the girls toys as gifts, I love offering the girls gifts and as Linny gets older she loves receiving them and accumulating them. We are very grateful to all those who have bought them gifts and love a lot of what has been offered to them.
As Linny has become older she has become more attached to her things; particularly her collection of dolls, stuffed animals and Ken, the Action Man figure. Ken who she insists showers with me, Ken who I sometimes find myself sleeping with in bed, Ken, who is at this very moment, in her hospital having surgery.
Moving to France has afforded us the opportunity to declutter and purge our things. I initally relished this and started enthusiastically putting unopened bank statements into a box, got rid of about four items of clothes and then slowly ground to a halt. The toys are the next on my list. A small amount of our possessions will go into storage, a very small amount is coming with us (one small suitcase for the girls...) and the rest we are giving away or selling.
I think Ken will come with us but for the most part we are going to be free of our possessions and Linny and Ira left to create their games with humble sticks and stones and we'll just have to see how this goes.