Separating Yourself From Your Children's "Stuff"

toymessPhoto by Robert S. Donovan

Fans of Simple Mom know that her Spring Cleaning Party begins today.  I”ve purchased and downloaded her e-book and I am ready to go.  My home is in need of a clutter purge!  And when it comes to the amount of toy clutter that sweeps across the floors of our home on a daily basis . . . well, it is enough to make me just want to lay down on the floor and give up.  I”d have to clear off a spot amidst the blocks and books and baby dolls, of course, first.

In the chapter on decluttering and cleaning the rooms of your children, Tsh warns that when it comes to purging toys, parents can “prepare for some possible emotional battles.”  My children are not quite yet to the age where they get a keep/toss/donate vote on each toy, and in fact, most of my toy decluttering is done while they sleep.  Yet I find that the emotional battles that are the most difficult in sorting through my children”s toys are fought within myself.

I would not say I have superhuman memory powers, but I do have the uncanny (and when it comes to decluttering – inconvenient) knack for remembering where most every toy in our home came from.  This makes the purging process particularly difficult for me.  I pick up the blinking and bleeping toy laptop and remember fondly the occasion on which it was present to my oldest daughter by her grandparents.  Nearly every stuff animal in the monstrous heap in which they all reside has some kind of fond story of a loved one  attached to it.  I find it to be almost physically painful to toss or donate these things which were lovingly chosen and given to my daughters.  But the weed-out process is necessary if we don”t want to drown beneath a sea of kiddie clutter, so I”ve written out these steps to make the process a little bit less painful for me. 

1. Mantra: Getting rid of a toy does not mean getting rid of a relationship.
Logically, I know online roulette this is absolutely true.  Emotionally, this is where I struggle.  I must focus on the fact that finding a new home for a toy given to the girls by one of their favorite aunts does absolutely nothing to damage the relationship they have with that aunt.  Their relationship is not built on them receiving gifts from her.  If she never gave them another toy, they would still adore her just as much. 

2. Consider alternate “dumping grounds.”
My husband”s parents had already been grandparents for nine years when my oldest daughter was born, so their house has long been a fun haven for my children to visit.  On the other hand, our oldest daughter is the oldest grandchild on my side of the family, and my parents have not yet collected an expansive toy collection for entertaining the little ones.  This week, I”ll be packing up and taking several boxes of toys from our home to my parents” home.  This way, the toys that we have special attachments to won”t be gone for good, just gone from our toyroom.  

3. Be realistic.
When a toy has been played with and loved on for a long time, I find that I want to tuck away and keep it in a special place for the girls to have and keep when they leave home.  I think this is a fine idea, but I have to remember they aren”t going to want an extra large U-Haul box full of toys traveling with them from college dorm to first apartment to first home.  How will I decide?  I”ll probably just have to cross my fingers and go with my gut in making these decisions. 

In the creative family, Amanda Blake Soule writes

When it comes to playthings for our children, I can”t emphasize enough that for creative play, less really is more in regard to toys . . . A sad product of our modern world is that our children are taught early on to overconsume and want more, more, and more.

I know the hearts of the people in our lives who love our girls, and I know they would not want this outcome for them.  I know they would ultimately want the girls to have bright, organized, inspiring spaces to play – spaces that have just enough instead of way too much in the way of toys, even if that means finding a new home for something they gave to the girls as a gift.  And I think I”ll find this to be the most helpful motivating thought as I attempt to invite more simplicity into our home this week.

Do you get emotional when you sort through your children”s toys?  Or do you tend to be more practical?  What are your best toy decluttering thoughts, tips, and strategies?