My Granddaughter came for a visit last week. She played with her toys and talked to her Grandpop, but her favorite activity was sitting quietly and stringing beads to make a bracelet. Sitting at the craft table, she reminded me of twin four year-old girls I had met and their playroom. I was hired a few years ago by a nice couple with a problem. They both worked long hours and the playroom in their home was a mess they didn’t quite have time to fix. Just knowing the mess existed was extremely stressful for the wife; that’s when they chose to hire an organizer – me!
The job was simple: organize an odd, L-shaped room full of toys. However, I am not one to just put a toy back on a shelf. As I matched dolls to dollhouses and setting up for playing house, the twin girls would come in and play. Every time the girls came to play while I worked, one roamed and played house, and the other sat quietly with the dollhouse. As I watched the girls I had an epiphany. The room was set up backwards, without clear zones. So as I cleaned, I rearranged. I gave the dollhouse its own, albeit smaller, quiet area of the room in the arm of the L and put everything for playing house in the larger area. That way the girls could play comfortably according to their individual personality.
With everything cleaned up and put back, there were only a few tasks left to accomplish. I gave the parents two lists of toys. One list for those that could be stored because they had them to play with at preschool. And one list of toys that if removed would make clean up a little easier in the future. I also show the parents a large bin of miscellaneous toy parts and pieces. I told them that I could find where everything in the bin probably went with, but it would cost time and money. I also told them that in all probability, nothing in the bin would ever really be needed. And they may want to wait and see.
Job complete, I did a follow up a month or so later and received more than I thought I would ever get. A page-long email was sent to my inbox with thanks and appreciation. The father summed up his appreciation with a short, sweet statement of what he had learned. If only I had his exact phrase. But the gist was: We thought we were doing good by giving them more, but they are happier having less.