Every year, around this time, I become a bit faint of heart. After the excitement of buying gifts for my children (I LOVE to give gifts), I look around my house and think, “we already have so much stuff!”. I’m not a fan of clutter and I become overwhelmed by the amount of toys the children have already that they don’t play with.
I watch a lot of HGTV while cleaning the kitchen and I’m a big fan of the tiny house living shows. I cringe at the idea of living in 200 square feet with three children but the idea of simplifying life and having less stuff appeals to me. I’m actually quite good at getting rid of stuff. Every season I go through the house and clear out what is not being used, that being said, it is a lot harder to go through my children’s toys. You know that dreaded moment when your child comes up to you and says “where is my favorite bear stuffy?” (that she hasn’t touched in a year) and you shrug your shoulders and change the subject because you know it went to Value Village six months ago?
To avoid this kind of evasive lying about where their toys have gone, I try to get my kids involved in the purge, with the disclaimer that we need to make room for the new toys they will be getting at Christmas. It is always a valiant effort but my suggestions mostly go unheard and they seldom come up with more than a few small things they are willing to part with. And so it accumulates and I wonder, how do I make them understand that they don’t need all this stuff?
I hate stuff but I loved giving my kids stuff. Yes. I am a part of the problem. Yah, you too Grandma.
I live in a bit of a hippy pocket of the world where there is a push to buy quality toys, things made to last, wood toys, toys made of recycled materials. Recycle, Re use, Re purpose. I get it. I agree with it even. But I also get where one friend comes from when she says she likes to buy her kids “two second toys”: stuff from the dollar store that they will love and lose, use and break, stuff that spends a limited time in your home. Don’t you find that it is this kind of super cheap stuff that children seem to gravitate to and favor over the fancy toys?
I am trying to take a middle road this Christmas. I want to delight my children without stressing myself out about accumulation. A puzzle, a small toy, a stuffy and a stocking full of edible good, new socks and two second toys. But what about the accumulation of last year, and the year before? How do I make them cognizant of how much they have and how little they need? Are these presents still too much? Am I encouraging them to buy into a consumerist culture?
I am a big part of the problem. Gift giving is a big love language with me and I struggle with this on a year round basis, not just at Christmas time. However, at Christmas, when the true reason for the season really has nothing to do with Santa Claus and Christmas presents, my baseness in this manner stares me hard in the face.
How to purge my house of all this useless crap and how to discipline myself to not to fill it back up? That is the question.