Kids’ Art Corner… Decluttered!

If you ask my five-year-old what she wants to be when she grows up, she will usually tell you she wants to be an “Astronaut Artist.” If she can’t be outside playing with her buddies, you can almost find her inside at her beloved art table.

I used to go to great lengths to organize this well-used part of our home. I put two bookshelves there to hold toys and puzzles, and bought a large plastic bin for paper, art supplies, and coloring books. I collected all the stickers, markers, crafts, etc and found homes for them tucked somewhere in the art corner. Despite all my organizing efforts, this little corner was basically in shambles every night. This has especially been true every since my 3-year-old discovered the joys of “making confetti,” with his tiny scissors. I just repeat to myself… “HesdevelopinghisfinemotorskillsHesdevelopinghisfinemotorskills….”

The other day I found myself in the rare circumstance of being home alone for a couple of hours, so I decided it was time to bring minimalism to this little corner of our world.

First, I took everything off the shelves and out of the drawers to get my head around what I was dealing with here. As I emptied the drawers I found all the art supplies my kids had lost over the past few months, along with a bunch of random junk. Noted. As usual, there was just TOO MUCH STUFF and it was keeping my family from enjoying this area as much as they could.

Then I used the same strategy with the art corner that I used with my jewelry drawer.

1. Pick out the keepers. I started by picking out the really good stuff that my kids love AND use frequently. There were a handful of puzzles, white and construction paper, markers (each checked to make sure they are not dried up), crayons, scissors, gluesticks, and a small set of blocks.

What was left on the table was this:
kids art junk2
What. Is. This. Stuff.

2. Toss the rest. Whenever I am confronted with a pile of stuff like this, I freeze. It’s daunting to imagine putting each of these random pieces away. But then I remembered, I’m not an organizer anymore, I’m a minimalist. So I checked over this pile one more time for keepers, got an empty box, and I took my arm and swept the entire pile into the trash. It was glorious!

3. Create a functional space. Next I put away our seriously reduced art supplies. I made sure that the kids can access everything easily and put it away themselves easily. I got rid of so much rarely used stuff that after putting away the good stuff, this the storage that we no longer need:

4. Admire! When the Littles got home, I immediately took them over to their art corner. My daughter gasped when she saw it and said, “I love it! I can SEE ALL MY STUFF!” She knows I threw the rest away and she couldn’t care less. Even my 5 year old immediately saw that her beloved art corner was so much better with all the clutter out of the way.
Isn’t that amazing! Woohoo!
shelf art2
Turns out my kids don’t need a million half-completed dollar store crafts. They need the basics. They LOVE the basics. And my husband and I love NOT picking up the art corner every night. Except, of course, the occasional confetti 😉
art supplies

Dear house, it’s not you… (It’s the STUFF)

Before discovering the concept of minimalism, I was an Organizer.

I had this theory that if there was ever a spot in the house that accumulated too much crap, then I needed to rethink how it was organized. This often meant buying baskets, containers, drawers, shelves, hooks, even furniture… whatever made sense to house the clutter and get it organized. When the pantry got out of control, I bought new storage. When I couldn’t fit all my clothes and shoes in the closet, I bought a clothing rack and (yet another) shoe organizer. When I neatly packed another box of stuff-we-aren’t-using-right-now-but-might-use-someday, I labeled it and down to the basement it went. And it kind of worked, I guess. But it was exhausting and incredibly time consuming and I found I could never, EVER keep up.

I complained to my husband that I was overwhelmed by our house. “This house is too big,” I said. “I just can’t keep up with the picking up! It’s all I ever do!” Then my eyes were opened by my closet purge, and one day, after carefully reorganizing the kids’ toys AGAIN, I turned to my husband and said,

“Oh my god. Husband. It’s not the house, it’s the STUFF.”*

Yes, it was the stuff. It was the never ending battle of picking up, organizing, and cleaning all this stuff that made me feel like was running in circles.

I teach High School Economics, and I was immediately reminded of a lesson I teach my kids on Opportunity Cost. Bottom Line: Every good is SCARCE… your time, your energy, your money… and every time you choose to spend these scarce resources of yours in one way, means you choose to NOT spend it in another way. All of this stuff cost me not just the actual price of the items, but it was costing me my TIME. I was choosing the stuff over the people and things that I love.

And so… if I spend less time and energy dealing with the STUFF, I would have more time and energy to play with my kids, laugh with my husband, read a book, or call a friend. It is that simple.

And that, my friends, is my minimalism. I’m choosing to get rid of the stuff that is not important to make time for the stuff that is.

Starting with my next post, I’ll be getting specific on the methods we have adopted in our house to simplify, and how this process is looking for us. We have a long way to go, and I’m hoping some of you will tackle some projects with me!

*I have since figured out that it is ALSO the house, but more on that in a later post!