Since becoming a mother my dreams have changed. Where once I dreamed of shopping in Paris, or lounging on a beach in Bora Bora, I now dream about eating a meal sitting down, and throwing away all of my kids toys.
I can picture myself skipping through the house with a big black garbage bag and just filling it up. No more clutter, no more toy soup, just no more stuff. This is the dream I want to stay in forever, but one of my tiny people always pulls me out of bed because they need breakfast. Stumbling to the kitchen, I step on a Lego and sob. The toys are still here, and I realize it was all just a beautiful dream.
But, it doesn’t have to be. One mom actually made the dream happen and now she is a hero to me and moms everywhere.
The woman, the mother, the legend is Allie Casazza of Bentonville, Arkansas. Once an overwhelmed mother of four just trying to make it through a day, Casazza now helps other moms achieve freedom and happiness by cutting the clutter.
She describes her aha moment on her website, The Purposeful Housewife.
“I went into the playroom—the room that was the bane of my existence. This was a room full of colorful bins, each bin full of toys. There were toys on the floor, in chests, in boxes, toys everywhere. I would send my kids in here to play and they would come out less than ten minutes later complaining of boredom. This room was pointless, and I’d had enough,” she says.
But, rather than just kicking the can down the road and grinding out another day, Casazza got to work.
“I started working through the room, making piles—keep, trash, donate. I got rid of every single toy that I felt wasn’t benefitting my kids. If it didn’t cause them to engage in constructive or imaginary play, it wasn’t staying in this house because it wasn’t worth the work it caused me. If I was going to clean up it was going to be the things that added to our lives; it was going to be only the things we needed and the things we truly loved,” she says.
When it was all said and done, she saved her kids’ trains and tracks, some dress-up costumes, books and blocks—the rest went to Goodwill.
And, to her surprise, the kids didn’t notice or didn’t care. In fact, they were delighted to rediscover toys they hadn’t played with in a long time.
“My kids played in that room that day for three hours. Three hours! It wasn’t just that day either. They continued to want to be in their playroom for long amounts of time from then on. They started going outside more often, making up stories and scenarios together, playing tag and creating art.”
This sounds like heaven right? Especially when we know Christmas is on its way and there will be more toys to add to our already overwhelming playrooms.
As a mom who is 100 percent guilty of wishing away hours, I had to wonder: Can cutting clutter really give us the freedom we need to be better moms?
According to a study out of UCLA, yes.
The study, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” looked at how families are using their time, what they do with the stuff they buy, how much use different parts of their homes get and what aspects of home life cause stress.
What they found may prompt you to get that big black garbage bag and start chucking stuffed animals in it tonight.
“The volume of possessions was such a crushing problem in many homes that it actually elevated levels of stress hormones for mothers,” the researchers concluded.
Crushing problem? Elevated stress? Well, if that doesn’t make me want to step off my crazy clutter train, I don’t know what will.
Anyone else ready to purge?