Gum in Your Hair

A blog for parents under the big sky.

Adventures in Tidyinghood: Children’s Books

:: WRITTEN BY JESSICA GEARY-CECOTTI ::

Hello to all my Tidions (tidying minions). I hope your decluttering is going as well as could be expected while you still have kids living in your house. Trust me, I get it. Keeping a home in order is no joke, especially when you have dark forces (kids) directly in opposition of your goals. I hope that my first two Adventures in Tidyinghood posts have been helpful on your quest. If you haven’t read them you can catch up here with the Clothing and Toys posts. For this month I tackled books. I went a little out of Marie’s protecal by skipping to toys before books because frankly I thought the books category was gonna be boring. To my surprise, the books category has been magical and life-changing.

I read somewhere that Marie recommends only owning 30 books at a time (per person). Admittedly, not an avid reader myself, you can still find about that number on my nightstand at any given time. Maybe I secretly hope I’ll absorb the contents of the books via osmosis during the night or something. Annnnyhow, even though I try to be faithful to sweet Marie, sometimes I just have to break the rules. And there were a lot of rules I broke in this category, including the 30 cap book rule.

The process for this category was the same as the others. Collect all the (kid’s) books we own into one pile. Whoa, and I thought we had a lot of toys...

Even after discarding three full boxes of books, each of my boys kept about 45 a piece. But I find there’s less stigma with having too many books versus having too many toys, so that’s why I don’t mind breaking that rule. And unlike my huge collection of books that will probably go unread, theirs do spark joy and will be read.

What did I do with those three full boxes of books? Most went to Goodwill, but there were a few nicer books that we either had duplicates of or that were no longer of interest to my boys, and those I took to Once Upon A Child. If you don’t know what that is, you need to get informed! They buy and sell kid’s clothing (newborn to size 20 youth), toys, books and more. I have made Once Upon A Child an integral part of my decluttering routine. Doesn’t matter which of the categories I’m working on, I always take my discards to OUAC to sell and replenish with discounted items from their store with the cash they pay me. Do check out the website, which has substantial information about what they buy, sell, are in most need of and the best ways to bring in your items if you want to receive the most money for them. You can find additional deals and sales if you follow them on Facebook and Instagram too. For example, every Thursday they do a FREE book giveaway: if your child’s name is posted you get to go pickout a FREE book!

 

Ok, so after the pile of books was cut by half, all we had to do was get them back into my boy’s rooms. I did find that my previous method of storing books in multiple places around the house (with the good intention of having mid-day reading breaks, or something like that, laugh) was just not practical and is a no no in Konmari. So in the end I consolidated all the books to the bedrooms where we do actually read. Once this step was complete, that’s when the magic happened.

We rediscovered the gems we love to read.
By purging half of what we had, we found books that had been lost among the sea of other books.

The energy in both boys’ rooms feels more peaceful and calm.
After discarding the excess books and reconfiguring the storage a bit, we even got motivated to create this reading nook under my older son’s loft bed.

Their rooms are tidier (Duh).
I got these vintage tool boxes at the Antique Barn out on Gallatin Highway. The boys have been excited to use this new storage method. With the book covers facing out, it’s much easier for them to find what they are looking for. I do keep some of the other books in the closet to rotate in after a few weeks to help keep things interesting.

 

It’s reinvigorated our bedtime routine.
By having only the books that spark joy, it’s easy to read five-to-nine books a night. It makes my heart sing to hear my little one repeatedly ask me to read another one. We can see how much they are enjoying their new book selections that are perfectly tailored to each of them.

In closing, the Book category has probably had the biggest impact on the boys’ daily life. By putting attention and energy into this category, it’s enriched and enlivened their experience of reading. I didn’t use to see any harm in having so many books. Especially since we had the storage space for them. But I’m starting to realize that when the boys are surrounded only by books that actually interest them and appeal to their individual personalities, it has fostered an even greater love of reading. Which, (caution: side story ahead) I find true for me too. I joke that I’m not an avid reader, but really I’m just not the kind of person who will grin and bear it through a 400 page book that I’m not enjoying (especially when there is a perfectly good Outlander episode to be watched). I have no qualms with quitting a book cold turkey. I will though, have a bit of guilt and feelings of defeat, so I keep the book around with the hope I’ll one day finish it. But this is silly, because, (I won’t and) when I do find books that inspire me, I devour them and easily find time to read multiple times throughout the day. So my point is, I’m done having expectations about what I should be reading and if I’m not jiving with a book, then I’ll exchange it for one that I do enjoy (I actually prefer non-fiction like health & nutrition, gardening and books on the history of mermaids). From now on I’m only going to read (or absorb via osmosis) books that truly spark joy for me. Same goes for my boys. There will be plenty of books they’ll have to read in the future. So for now, I want the experience of books and reading to be as positive as possible. And having their rooms tidier doesn’t hurt either.

It can be a messy world. Good luck out there and I’ll see you on the tidy side.

Stay tuned for more “Adventures in Tidyinghood!”

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Jessica Geary-Cecotti is the Social Media Manager for Montana Parent and owner of her own graphic design studio, Flora Fauna Designs. Nature and animals have always held a special place in her heart and continue to be her most profound source of inspiration. She is the mother of two wildly awesome boys and borderline believes in mermaids.