Decluttering With Kids

This year, as every year, we clean the house thoroughly for Christmas. So, I had the idea of doing a “hope purse” project with my friends in church. As you go over your closet, you choose one of your many purses that you don’t use anymore, fill it with some chocolate, that makeup you bought but never opened, hygiene products, write a card and deliver it at the women’s shelter.

In this process, going room by room, I stopped at my two-year-old’s room and got overwhelmed by the amount of toys and books she has. I called my husband and asked “Does she really need all of this?”

His simple “no” started a conversation that changed our outlook.

We talked and reminisced about our childhood and in this conversation, we set a few new goals for our family: we decided that this Christmas would be the last that we would buy toys for Emma.

Why? To start, she is only two and she has more toys than the average child. Our house is small and there are toys everywhere – not practical for a working family. Also, there are toys she does not even touch… it certainly does not teach her to be grateful. Finally, why do we spend so much money on toys? Are we blocking her creative side by overwhelming her little mind with (annoying) sounds and lights when we all know, a big box and a few crayons would guarantee fun for hours?

So that’s what I did. I went to her room and cleaned. Emma has a toy trunk and it helps to keep it all organized and clean and according to Joshua Becker – author of Clutterfree with Kids, the trunk helps to limit the amount of stuff she has.

Then I talked to her and said, “You can have all toys that fit here. No more.” She just said “Okay!” and danced her way out of the room. Oh, the joys of being a two-year-old. (Heart grows 3 sizes here).

The process was easy, as she was playing with her favorite toys in the living room, and everything else in the trunk in her room was being ignored. So everything in the trunk went to a box. I labeled it and put in the attic.

Planning something similar? Here is my advice:

Tip number 1: Rotate Toys

Set a special alarm in your phone with a song your child recognizes and once a quarter, we bring a box down, “release” the toys and toys currently in the room go in the box. The rotation will bring excitement as we get the box together, and together, fill the empty one.

Tip number 2: Spark Joy & Surprise Yourself

I was not specific in labeling because I myself don’t want to know what’s inside the box. It will be a surprise for all of us! We have three diaper-sized boxes and two kitchen-sized trash bags with stuffed animals. As she loves very few of her stuffed animals, the excess was donated immediately. LOVE is the key word. Only things you love must stay. Marie Kondo uses the expression “spark joy.” That works too.

You can also group by type. Right now my daughter is in love with all things princess and Minnie Mouse, so if it’s not related to this theme, it goes in the box.

Tip number 3: Move Fast

Don’t drive for months with the donation bag in your car trunk. Get rid of it as fast as you can. Just remember, things beyond repair go in the trash. We have this behavior that what is out of sight is out of mind, but there is no outside of this world. The trash we produce and the excess we accumulate take years to be completely destroyed, recycled and reused. Be mindful when buying and ruthless when donating.

If you decide to make this a family tradition, and if you live in the Wichita Falls area, please consider choosing one of the many nonprofits that work with kids and take your little one to make the toy donation. Christmas time is perfect to create a sense of community, to help them develop a new look over their surroundings and be nice.

Results

My house is clean and looks cozy and peaceful. My little one is now playing with her Minnie Mouse and singing the “Beauty and the Beast” song.

May our Christmas resolution to live a decluttered life inspires you as well.

See you next time!

*This is a great article I came upon when checking my news feed on Facebook yesterday that urged me to write about minimalism.
**More of Joshua Becker here and here.

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