Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Simplicity and Purpose by Director Lynne Kehoe

Tis the gift to be simple,
Tis the gift to be free
(Shaker song)

Aaaah, a new season begins at LifeWays Lake Country! The school-age children who visited us over the summer have returned to school, and our dear preschool friends have “Crossed the Bridge” from LifeWays to their respective kindergartens. We caregivers (myself, Miss Ashley, and Miss Ramona) and our caregiver/cook Mrs. Mies find ourselves surrounded by younger faces ranging in age from 3 months to 4 years. The transition to a younger set offered us a perfect opportunity to…simplify!

We began by de-cluttering the living room space, leaving just enough toys to occupy the children during what is usually a transitional time there. Then, on to the suites! Knowing that most of our children are toddlers and two-year-olds, we left them just enough shape sorters and puzzles, baskets and buckets to “dump and fill” to their hearts’ content without making a huge mess. We asked ourselves, do we really need two cradles, eight baby dolls and twelve blankets? Are three bins of blocks necessary?

After our work of simplifying, we stepped back and watched the children play. They certainly had enough to keep them occupied, and having two to three of each item sufficed when a few children each needed her own baby doll, puzzle, etc. Furthermore, and richly satisfying, was the way that the toys were used purposefully by the children. A child could clearly see what she needed, reach it, and use it in her play…and even know where it “lived” to put it away at cleanup time.

Working in this way with the children has also helped me to remember to de-clutter my own home (not an easy task for us pack-rats; is anyone out there with me?). Do I really need to have four sewing projects strewn about? Do I accomplish anything with piles of paper on my desk? Or can I simplify by putting just a few items clearly before myself, and then work on them purposefully. Tis the gift to be simple…

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