Monday, January 04, 2010

The Tyranny of Things

When I was younger, I always had New Year's Resolutions. I loved the idea of a chance to change things for the better. I no longer really make resolutions, but I do still like to sit back and take stock, and ask myself what I'd like to improve in my life. Hubby and I also review our finances and think about what we'd like to improve there.

This year, the obvious goal would be to get back into shape. I'm pretty sure that Petunia is our last baby, so I could theoretically try to whip my body back into pre-pregnancy shape. However, I don't think that is a realistic goal for this year- I remember from the first time around that it is hard to find time to exercise until the baby is nursing less frequently. So I'm giving myself a pass on that, and just went out and bought some new pants that fit the body I have now.

Instead, I'm going to focus on getting our stuff under control. I don't mind a little mess now and then (just ask my parents, who can tell you about my bedroom when I was a child- it usually looked like a tornado had blown through it) but it drives me nuts when things don't have a home. There has to be at least the theoretical possibility of order and tidiness in every room in my house. Right now, our toy and children's book storage situation is not up to par, and our office/guest room drives me bonkers. I've started working on the toy storage problem, but am having a hard time figuring out what to do with the bigger items. We don't have a room that can be a dedicated play room, so I need to think of a way to store things like the Little People Garage (a Christmas gift that Pumpkin ADORES) and the bags and boxes of blocks and Duplo that will keep me sane without interfering with Pumpkin's play too much.

I don't think Pumpkin has too many toys- she has a lot, but not an unreasonable amount when you think about the fact that her job right now is basically to play. I think the problem is that toy manufacturers don't worry about the footprint of toys anymore. Really, nobody seems to worry about the size of things anymore.

We have sucumbed to a tyranny of things. We all need big houses to store all of our stuff, and big cars to carry it around. Never mind the cost to power the cars or heat the houses. If you want to buck that trend, every purchase you make is difficult. Our house is under 1400 square feet (which is considered small now but really isn't). When we want to buy furniture we have to really search for items that will provide the functionality we need (seating for 4-5 in our living room, for instance) and fit into the space we have. We are having a similar problem buying a new car- there aren't many cars out there that get decent mileage and still have the room to carry the combination of people and things we want to be able to carry. (The front runners in our car search are the Mazda 5 and Kia Rondo, by the way).

I don't know what the solution is. I don't know if there is any way to break the cycle of people buying bigger cars and houses to store their stuff and the manufacturers of stuff not worrying about size because everyone has a big car and house, anyway. But this year, I will find a way to keep the things under control in our home, at least.


  1. It's hard not to have a mess with young kids around. I like to have a place for everything, but it is difficult.

  2. Anonymous7:37 PM

    "I don't mind a little mess now and then...but it drives me nuts when things don't have a home. There has to be at least the theoretical possibility of order and tidiness in every room in my house."

    I usually just lurk (found you from Ask Moxie), but today I could resist. I am certain that I have said those exact words to my fiance! Everything needs a home.

  3. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Oops, "could" should be "couldn't."

  4. I know exactly what you're talking about. We only have 800 square feet, and E is the only grand-kid on either side (and the only great-grand-kid on my side) so the amount of stuff that appears with no effort on our is a bit overwhelming. The first year ended with us sitting in a giant pile of stuff (her birthday, immediately followed by Christmas = 500 stuffed toys and 5000 small plastic things (ok, fine, I'm exaggerating a bit here)). Now it is really easy to be generous about handing toys & clothes along to folks with younger kids. I've also gotten really aggressive about free-cycling things I don't use and trying to get worn-out clothing out of the house. The more crap I get rid of, the more space I have for storing books...

    I don't know what the solution to so much stuff is either, but I do know that the more I think about the amount of stuff we've got (especially as things roll in the door at Christmas) the more frustrated I get.

  5. @Today Wendy- ah yes, the book storage problem. I'm contemplating an eReader (like the Kindle) to help combat that....

    My family was pretty restrained about Christmas gifts. I don't think anyone went crazy, and Pumpkin loves her new toys. I've tried weeding out some older toys and putting them in storage for Petunia. But it never seems to be enough.

    And I can't blame the disaster that is our office/guest room on toys at all!

  6. I hear you! In my house, achieving the level of organization we really want is a pipe dream given that we have 2 kids under 3. So i think I'm just going to fix what I can change (my clothing closet) and be happy with that for now. A wise friend once said "Someday your house will be quiet and clean, and a part of you will miss having young kids around."

  7. I'm the same way about wanting everything to have a "home!" I'm continuly working on this too. I hope you have more luck than I do.

    In fact, this year I specifically requested NO stuffed animals for either kids because we have SO MANY, they don't really have good places to go, and the Pumpkin plays with very few.

  8. see CB2's new metal boxes...!


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