It was a Friday night and we had nothing to do. Bored homeschoolers. It’s quite funny. Our lives had been so wrapped up with a recent set of concerts and preparing for college admissions, that on this quiet evening we were all looking at each other and wondering what we should be doing. No one is bored because our house is perfectly decluttered and we have minimized the contents to the barebones. Just the opposite, the moment I stopped clearing out corners and closets because life was busy with college admissions, they mysteriously began refilling. There is plenty to catch up with, but we are just in need of doing nothing and letting our lives slow down.
When the kids were little and on the odd occasion they complained about being bored, I would respond with, “Great! Out of boredom comes incredible creativity.” They hated it. They did not like that I was not finding them something to do. And I really did not want to crush out creativity by rescuing them from boredom by finding them chores, books to read, or running them around town with diversion activities. So, I let them stay bored, and usually in about 30 minutes, they had found the craft box, pulled out the guitar, scout merit badges to work on, or set up a new version of Risk complete with added Legos and Playmobile characters. I wasn’t ignoring their cry of boredom, I just wanted them to learn to find contentment from inside themselves and not by being entertained by others. It’s a hard skill to master.
Maintaining a simpler life has been a challenge, it’s really hard to balance minimalism and yet keeping a well stocked closet of creative play items. I become defensive about the swim lessons and piano practice with my hard-core minimalist friends. To them, minimalism would be toys only found in nature, and activities the kids create on their own. I’m just not there, and yet I push away from the society that fills every moment of the free time with entertainment and stimulation.
We have three closets for “rainy days”, which we get a lot of in Oregon, for when we often need indoor activities. Turning on the computer or the television was not a permitted rainy day activity, so I filled the closets with supplies to inspire.
Do I minimalize the art closet and toy closet? I’ve sorted and organized the contents. Passed along craft materials we are no longer using, or used up old supplies without replacing. But my heart struggles to pass along the puppets and dress up clothes that I spent hours sewing, or the Playmobiles and Legos that the kids still have very fond memories, and will pull out when younger cousins visit. Even when they were younger, I don’t know how much I could pare down the toys. We kept things simple, trying to buy more quality than quantity as gifts.
The house felt stuffed. The kids were bored when I started writing, and ended up playing with the dog and eating leftover Epiphany spice cakes.
All too soon the house will be quiet every evening, the closets will remain organized from lack of homeschoolers, and I will long for these days that I struggled with what to declutter or how to simplify our lives.