I made a calendar (I spent an hour on it and had WAY too much fun making it), I printed out the daily challenges (tweaking a few of them to make them fit our family), and bought the book "More" by I.C. Springman.
Jon and I started off by telling the kids that we were getting ready to start something really exciting. I told them that we were getting ready to start a 30 day challenge that was going to help us spend less time cleaning (they were VERY excited about this one), help us be able to find our favorite things when we wanted them, and help other people by donating our non-favorite things.
We started by reading the book "More", about a magpie who collected more and more things in his nest until his many nests full of things broke the branch and buried him in a pile of stuff. Luckily his friends come to his rescue and help him cart off almost all of it. In the end he's happily flying around with only his 2 favorite things. The kids totally got it. We talked a lot about how the poor bird couldn't get comfortable in his nest with so much stuff. He certainly couldn't find the thing he needed in all those piles. After a good bit of discussion, Charlotte asked, "But he only had 2 things in the end. Are we only going to have 2 things?" She felt much better after I assured her that she would have a lot more then 2 things.
I also told them that they would be keeping their favorite things and that THEY would be making all of the decisions when it came to what things would leave their rooms. They felt much better about that.
I had a little idea about how to demonstrate to them how much easier it is to clean up if you have fewer things.
I took a 1,000 piece puzzle and spread it out ... way out.
Then I took a 100 piece puzzle and spread it out on the other rug. We broke into teams to see which team could clean up their puzzle the fastest. Since Charlotte and Jon won the coin toss, they chose to clean up the 100 piece puzzle. They won by a landslide by cleaning it up in 20 seconds! They had mercy on Evan and I and helped us clean up. It took the 4 of us over 2 minutes to clean up the 1,000 piece puzzle. They started to understand that the fewer things you have, the faster you clean up.
We also sat down to make a list of all the ways that stuff gets into our house. It was a long list. Toys from the reward box at school and the dentist, gifts at holidays and birthdays, the store, hand-me-downs, the mail, etc. We had a list of over 10 ways that stuff comes into our house. It's no wonder we have a stuff problem.
So, now that we had them on board, Jon was comping at the bit to get started throwing stuff out. When he gets in the mood to clean or declutter, move out of his way. The mood doesn't strike often but when it does, he's ruthless! Jon and I worked Saturday and Sunday on some of the worst areas. I'm happy to say we're making great progress.
We have an "Outbox" by the front door and our daily challenge is to each add one thing to the outbox a day. I've been so impressed by the kids. They've been able to find something each day that isn't their favorite. We made a list of the questions we should ask ourselves before keeping something...
-Have I used it or played with it recently?
-Do I LOVE it?
-Is it broken or are pieces lost?
-Would someone else love it more then I do?
-Do I have others just like it?
These questions helped us all find lots and lots to donate, recycle, and throw away.
This was the donate pile at our front door by Sunday afternoon. How did we end up with 6 Easter baskets? I posted a listing on Craigslist under "Free" and a very appreciative family came to pick it all up. The kids were very proud of themselves for having contributing several things and making that family so happy.
We're making great progress and I'll be updating soon with a few "After" pictures!