Guys. GUYS. I know this might ruffle a few feathers (sorry, not really sorry) but I’m in a few mom groups on Facebook and the discussions about kids and their toys is disheartening. I’m going to share a few actual posts from a group I’m in:
We have a toy problem!! How can I decide when to sort through toys or how many I should keep? My children have so much junk that I feel like I never stop cleaning. We are in a small house so toys are literally everywhere! Any tips?”
Our family is overwhelmed with JUNK! It’s just TOO MUCH! It makes it impossible to have a functional home life. The kids refuse to help clean because they are overwhelmed by where to start. I don’t know how to encourage them to declutter!”
Venting…do any of you mamas try so hard to keep everything clean, tidy, and in order but feel like you are always stuck in chaos? I feel like I see women that have super clean homes and I have to have my house in perfect order. It’s exhausting and I can’t keep up.”
Now please realize, I’m not sharing these things to shame anyone. In fact, I’m hoping to do the opposite by sharing this post. All I want to do is HELP these mamas. I want to make them feel better . . feel less shame . . . feel less guilt for the time they spend “tidying up.” I want to help them because I too have felt that way and I understand how it can make you feel like the worse mom.
But here’s the thing, no matter how much cleaning you do; no matter how often you sort through toys; It will NEVER get better unless you help your children create a mindset that more is NOT better, and that each item in their rooms/home should bring them joy or prove to be functional.
Now don’t think I’m going to leave you with that bit of advice and call it a day. Oh no no. I’m going to share 6 doable actions you can take to minimize the STUFF in your life and your child’s life, and free up more time for quality mommy-child bonding. But you have to be honest with yourself if this is going to work.
Stay with me.
Watch the video or continue reading for more!
Question. How many of us walk into a store and hear “mommy, I want THAT!” “Mommy, can we Pa-LEASE buy this?” Now be honest. How many of us CREATED that? How many times have we walked in a store and allowed our child to pick something off the shelf for the sake of avoiding an embarrassing tantrum? We’re all guilty.
The problem with this is we have created a habit. A mindset. To avoid this, limit new toys to special occasions. Not only does this teach children not to expect something every single time we enter a store, it also gives them something to look forward to. My children always ask me, “mom, when it’s my birthday can I ask for this?” It then becomes a conversation about a TRUE desire for something, and IF that desire happens to stick until their birthday or Christmas, then we will consider.
Which is more logical? Buying ANOTHER toy that is going to sit in the playroom unused, or purchasing an annual pass to Disney that you can use repeatedly? Does your child love animals? Rather than buy animal figurines, buy an annual pass to the zoo. The choices are endless and prices vary from affordable to a bit more of a splurge, but if you choose to invest in a pricier gift, it will be a worthy investment.
We rarely use the terms “throw away” or “get rid of” in our household. When I ask my children if they still enjoy a particular toy they will either tell me “yes”, or “no ma’am, I’d like to pass it on to another little boy or girl.” My children are 6 and 4. It is NEVER too early to teach children the spirit of giving. This will help to keep rooms clean, but it will also teach our children that someone, somewhere has less than us and they are still happy. They also learn that passing on their belongings is just one simple way to bring a little more light into the lives of others who are less fortunate.
Children go through phases. I know that, you know that. They love what they love and very little else matters. Why do we keep everything else? My six year old is currently enjoying these things: reading, writing, baby dolls, dress up, and shopkinz. Therefor, those are the items we keep. That’s it. Nothing else. This helps her focus on the things she finds joy in AND keeps her room clear of clutter.
I give you permission to say PAUSE on this post, walk over to your child’s bedroom, and find the first thing that catches your eye that you haven’t seen him play with in months. Why are you holding onto it? Let it go. He clearly has.
About 20-ish articles of clothing. That’s roughly the number of items my daughter chooses to wear. I still pick my son’s clothes for the day and I probably rotate through 20 of his items as well, based on fit and color. Everything else was handed down. So what they repeat outfits weekly? They’ve probably been doing that already and you just haven’t noticed because they have so many!
Begin by getting rid of clothes with major stains and tears. Then go back and ask yourself, “when is the last time she wore this?” Another example? My children go to a private school where uniforms are required. In the past I had a closet FULL of uniforms. Tons. And then I realized my daughter only wears dresses. So I removed all of her pants, skirts, and tshirts and left 7 dresses hanging. This makes laundry so much more manageable and it saves me time each morning.
The biggest dilemma I see with parents is guilt. But grandma bought this for her, I can’t possibly give it away. That’s rude. You might not believe it now, but this is one of the easiest problems to solve. Voice to family members what kind of gifts you would prefer. Don’t tell them what exactly to gift, but give them an idea. Whenever people ask me what our children want for their birthdays, I usually tell them to consider something the kids can do outside (after telling him nothing is needed, of course.) That way they are outside, being active, using their imagination. Consider asking for annual passes to your favorite theme park, a gift card to the movie theater, or an app for a tablet. These are all things that take up no physical space and your children will surely enjoy.
Like I mentioned before, I know what it feels like when you can’t rise above the chaos. There is always more to do; too much stuff, never enough time. But once you realize this is a choice, and therefor a situation you have put yourself in, it becomes so much easier to find the solution. As an added benefit, it is scientifically proven that children are more likely to succeed when they are surrounded by less distractions AND you are helping your children to avoid these same feelings of overwhelm as an adult.
At the end of the day, know that you are not a failure and you are doing the best you can do for your family.
My goal with this blog and my YouTube channel (@TaraCreel) is to help others simplify their lives to focus on the things that matter. If you want a life of true fulfillment, stick around!
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