I am a minimalist at heart. I am not sentimental at all- I throw away birthday cards and old high school mementos with gusto. Clear, uncluttered space makes me happy.
But I am not the only one who lives in my house. First, there’s this tall guy (whom I love deeply) who likes to keep old newspapers and sports t-shirts and boxes of baseball cards. Then there are these 3 people I birthed (whom I love deeply) who want to keep ALL the books and ALL the stuffed animals and ALL the Star Wars guys. Plus a bunch of other stuff.
I have been on the journey of simplifying and decluttering almost as long as I have been a mom. The job is never finished. Also, it is rarely pleasant. I, like you, have read the minimalist blogs and books where they say, “Include your kids in the process! Tell them excitedly that they can choose some things they no longer play with to give to a needy child! They will enjoy giving their things away and be glad you respected them and included them.”
Let me just say, this has NOT been my experience.
When my kids were little, I snuck bags of toys and junk away under cover of night or when the kids were at grandma’s- dumping the stuff at Goodwill like a criminal trying to get rid of a body. As they got older (and wise to my sneaky ways) I would include them by doing things like standing in their bedrooms screaming, “There is so much crap in here! If you don’t start getting rid of stuff I’m just going to throw it all in the trash!”
I have sat with my 6-year-old daughter at night while she tearfully prayed for her beloved bunny, “Minty,” which she was forced to get rid of when I decided that 47 stuffed animals were maybe too many for one child.
I have thrown Every. Single. Thing. In my 10-year-old’s room into a giant Rubbermaid container and stashed said container in the attic for 5 months until she could learn to put her clothing away.
And still, I have 5 garbage bags of excess in my bedroom waiting to be taken to Goodwill. I haven’t given up. I am determined not to let the stuff win the day. But it is an uphill battle.
For me, it has been hard. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
Teaching my kids not to cling to material stuff for happiness – worth it. Teaching my kids to entertain themselves with their imaginations- worth it. Helping them learn to take care of the things they have – worth it.
Worth it, but hard nonetheless. And like so many things in motherhood- the job is never finished. Keep fighting the good fight, mamas. And if you see Minty at Goodwill, tell her we said hello.