Do you ever look around your house and think – Where did all this STUFF come from?
It happens to the best of us. It happens to the ‘us’ that strive for minimalism in their daily life. It happens to mostly all of us. Especially when there are kids added to the equation.
I’m fairly diligent when it comes to purging toys and clothes, and donating or recycling them. I try to go through closets on a monthly basis to take out things that don’t fit right, I pull out toys that are no longer played with, but in all honestly, I usually do this alone.
Why do get rid of excess toys and clothes by myself? Because it’s easier!
There’s no children around to watch you get rid of their suddenly ‘favourite’ toys, their prized possessions that haven’t been touched in months… No whining about favourite t-shirts that are two sizes too small – it takes a lot faster to go through it quickly, throw it in a box, and donate it that same day.
But then it occurred to me that there’s no children watching me purge the excess stuff.
Kids do as they see – not necessarily what they’re told. They learn by watching. They see the example you set for them and they will follow it. Nobody likes to be lectured to and told what to do. And if the kids aren’t watching me remove the stuff that’s no longer needed, just hearing about it, how will they really understand?
So my husband and I decided to do a stuffed animal purge WITH the kids. That’s right, we decided to help our kids declutter their toys. Stuffies are always a sore subject to approach because they’re cuddly, cute, and usually in great condition so there’s no need to get rid of them. Over the years we’ve accumulated way too many and we decided to include them in the decision making process.
We started with over fifty stuffed animals. 50. That’s a lot for two little kids. We didn’t count them but we stacked them up on our sofa to the point where the stuffed bears and cats and dragons were all falling off!
When ALL the stuffed animals in the house were rounded up in one spot, it was easy to see that we had accumulated way too many stuffed animals! It became easier for the kids to comprehend this excessive amount and that we didn’t have enough space for ALL of them… so we asked them to go through them and pick their absolute favourites…..
Of course, that wasn’t easy. We went through a few rounds of “Keep – Maybe Keep – Donate”, and the process because quite difficult at some points. There were tears of sadness, saying goodbye to old friends is never easy, but we persevered past it, helping the kids to understand why we were doing this.
- The kids had so many toys they didn’t even recognize some of them because they were stuck on a shelf. One way we described this was that with 50 toys, our kids didn’t have enough time to spend playing and loving all of them, but if you have 7 toys, all 7 of those toys will be super loved and super played with and happy!
- We reminded our kids that this was NOT a punishment. In no way were they to feel like they had done something wrong to ‘deserve this’.
- Less toys means less time searching for missing toys. Less toys means less time cleaning up their toys!
- Some toys were very old and in disrepair. We thanked those toys for all the time they spent with us, we kissed them, we said goodbye.
- Other toys were almost brand new and would be donated. We reminded our kids that those toys were going to get new best friends and would be happy in their new life.
- Getting rid of toys didn’t mean that these toys had no value or purpose in our lives. We thanked the toys for spending time with us, we remembered who gave them to us, or what occasion we got them on, the fun times we had – and then we hugged them and said goodbye.
Having the kids get rid of their excess toys and choose 7 favourites was a difficult and lengthy process, full of emotions, struggles, and confusion. But they are so much better for going through this experience than not. I’m so glad we had the kids pick and choose their favourite toys and say goodbye to the ones who didn’t make the cut. I’m so happy we were able to help them emotionally through this process, and I’m glad it was a positive experience for all of us.
In the end the kids got to keep about 9 stuffed animals each, and what was really strange was that they actually played with their toys. Not a single electronic device was played with that day. That for me is a success.
Do you feel that you’re drowning in toys? Do your kids have so many toys that they don’t even play with most of them? Do you have more toys than space allows for?
Why not try to purge them with the kids?