While the room was empty I noticd a huge difference in the way the children played. Typically they are lazy when in the house. They are completely sedentary and dependant on external impetus to decide what to do. Once the room was clear they were so much more active. They played imagination rich games and were noisy and energetic. In fact, they were exactly what children should be. I am sure this was partly due to the fact that the TV had gone along with everything else, but even when we set up the laptop with a DVD it was mostly ignored as it was more boring than their games.
I know it was space that made most of the difference. With space to run around in, they ran around. I now wonder whether we are breeding a generation of sedentary children partly because we have such small houses (the smallest in Europe on average) and fill them with so much stuff. When we moved everything back into the living room we made sure some things got left behind. We have got rid of one chair and a huge cupboard and have re-arranged everything else so that all the big pieces of furniture are against the walls. Apart from the coffee table, the middle of the room is clear. Now the kids have space to play properly.
The big challenge is keeping it clear. I am not a great housewife. We have so much stuff and it is so easy to let the floor get completely covered with books, crafts, my little ponies, toy cars, fridge magnets, recorders, cups, paper, glitter and plastic dinosaurs. For the last week I have kept the room completely tidy. Mr 3 now has all his toys in bags and we only bring in one bag at a time. To get a different toy we have to pack away the first one and put it away before bringing out a different bag. Mr 3 has cottoned on well, and now starts to pack up himself when he wants a change (Result!!!) The same rule applies to the girls, and in the evening we have tidy up time and spend a couple of minutes putting everything away.
It is amazing. I love sitting in here now. Tomorrow, when Mr 3 is a pre-school, I will have a completely clean and tidy room to be in. It has been a week now, and it takes less time to maintain than I used to spend complaining about the mess. Thirty seven years. That’s how long it has taken me to figure out that all you need to to do keep a space tidy is to put things away once you’ve finished using them.