Having children can also mean having a lot more stuff! When you bring your first baby home, you have way more GIANT baby things than you could ever use or need for your teeny-tiny, baby. Figuring out how to use all of that equipment was sometimes harder than caring for the baby. The older I get, and the more children I have, the more I reevaluate my priorities and space. Here is a perfect example: with my first baby, I carried a huge diaper bag with everything I could possibly ever need or imagine for my baby. However, by the time my fourth came along, I literally carried a toddler sized bag containing a diaper and a pacifier. I really didn’t need all of that other “stuff.”
I used to enjoy watching the hoarder-type shows. My kids would watch with me and this would give us a great place to discuss what happens when you keep everything you own. It also taught me that many of the hoarder’s parents gave their stuff away without them knowing, so, my number one rule is: I will never discard or donate anything without my kids agreeing to it. It is their stuff and I wouldn’t like it either. The interesting thing that I have found, is that my children are happy to not keep their excess items.
Here are some tips that I like to use with my own children:
- Lead by example. I have decluttered my own items and rooms.
- Start young if you can. Decluttering is a joy for them and doesn’t need to be painful.
- Never give it away without them knowing. They need to trust you.
- We go through our toys and clothes at least twice a year to make sure there are things we don’t like anymore.
- I pay my children a dollar per Wal-Mart bag full of toys/items they no longer want.
- After Christmas/Birthdays is a good time to go through items in order to make room for new ones.
- Don’t make or buy new containers for more toys. Keep designated spaces. If they toy don’t fit, that means there are too many.
- Break it up. Go through a bin and then play a quick game or get a quick snack. I try not to make it too tedious, but I do make a goal and try to get through X amount.
- Clean up when you are done and give the stuff away immediately. Be done. Get it out of your house.
- If they want something for the memory – you can always take a picture of it – and lose the tangible item. This works great for baby clothes, or art projects you may not want to keep until they are 25.
- Don’t hold onto something just because YOU want it or it cost a lot of money. If they don’t want it, don’t make them keep it.
- Try not to ask them, “are you sure?” or “…but Auntie/Grandma/Santa gave you that.” Once the item was enjoyed the gift was fulfilled.
- Have kids buy things with their own money. This will ensure they really want it, and sometimes means they have to save for it and will appreciate it more. It isn’t easy to say no to your kids in the store if they want something, but saying you don’t have enough money for that takes the decision off of you and puts it onto something else – the amount! I also have never been able to let my kids pay the tax for items. It’s my little gift to them. 😉
- Don’t buy it, (or take it if it’s free), unless you really do want it. Remember that you will someday have to go through it and it takes up valuable real-estate in your home.
- If it is broken and you can’t fix it – throw it away! Just throw.it.away!!
There is no doubt that it is fun and exciting to have new things. It also can be sentimental to hang on to the old. Because keeping a perspective on my things is important to me I try to keep abreast of decluttering books and minimalism blogs. I strive to be more minimalistic every day because it is freeing to me. I try to encourage my children that love is what it is about and not the materialistic things. We all know that if we had to run out of our home and only save the important things, it would be the people or pets we love. We could live without the rest. Stuff can steal our time, our space, and add so much unneeded stress. For me, LESS is MORE.