I had it all wrong.
As an ADHD coach I talk a lot about using systems and structures as tools; you don’t use a fancy day planner because it is somehow intrinsically good. It should make things run more smoothly.
Yet, I was stuck when it came to cleaning up and organizing my house. I kept trying to “have less stuff.” My house is full of toys. They are often on the floor. My kids knock stuff over a lot by mistake, putting more stuff on the floor.
Last week a friend came over and said, “but your kids USE ALL of the toys. So you don’t just have too many toys. In fact I’ve seen a lot of houses with more toys. Or a lot of toys the kids could care less about.”
She pointed out an important principle I had forgotten about for myself. I am not trying to clean up or organize because this is a “good thing” to do. I don’t really need to have a certain house for other people to like it.
I forgot that I am cleaning and organizing as a way of making things easier, but that it is important to me to have my house centered around my kids. The way I store stuff, which mostly is toys, is a system that ought to make things easier for us. The fact that we have lots of toys (but maybe less than people think, because ours are all in plain view) is about our core values. I got confused by friends and others thinking we had “too many” toys or “not enough” space. I’d like more space, but it isn’t the most important thing to me.
I love toys and it is ok if they have a whole bunch of toys they love. I am not hoarding toys.
It is ok that in our smallish house, the living room is their playroom and the dining room is their arts and crafts area. It’s ok with me. We don’t have extra space, and having an adult-centered house is not part of my value system. So when I’m exasperated with mess, I don’t have to compare myself to others who think few toys is best, or kids toys for some reason shouldn’t be in common spaces. I need to find joy, based on what I value, and systems to help.