Child: “I can’t get rid of the baby rabbit! They are a family.”
Me: “But honey, maybe another family is looking for a baby bunny for their rabbit family.”
Child: “But what if that family doesn’t treat the bunny nicely? That would be so sad. It would make me cry. I have to keep the baby rabbit. Plus Lavender used her own money to buy this for me.”
Me: “How about the doll with only 1 leg? What if we get rid of this one?”
Child: “No. I have the leg. And who will want a doll with only one leg? She’ll just get thrown away.”
Me: “I just bought you this Pica as a souvenir this summer. And you just bought this horse from Camp this summer. Why are cutting these? Why not cut the fox or the unicorn? They are both in pretty rough shape.”
Child: “Yeah. But I have had the fox and unicorn for so long and I’ve loved them for so long.”
Child: “I’m going to cry now. This is SO hard.”
Me: *sighs* and hugs.
Decluttering and downsizing with a child that feels deeply and sees the beauty in all that surrounds her was difficult. To say the least.
Decluttering and downsizing as a parent who would give my front two teeth to hold them as babies again is difficult.
BUT the walls are closing in and I am overwhelmed and anxious and angry because of the stuff we own.
Storage is barely functional and completely frustrating. Our craft/curriculum/art/documents/filing/printer closet is overflowing and I’d rather buy a new box of index cards then find the ones I know we already own. Clothes are exploding from drawers and closets.
I need to downsize. I need to declutter.
We had a wonderful summer together exploring Washington. We camped and hiked and swam and cooked and lived outdoors. We each had one bag of clothes. The kids had a milk crate (or less) of toys.
Now, clothes and toys and books were still strewn about our van. I still found random socks in odd places and underwear still littered the floor. And wet swim suits were found shoved in backpacks with “clean”, dry clothes.
With time spent in reflection, I have wondered how to make my home more enjoyable. To harness some of the joy I feel in the summer.
Did I really want to sell it all, build a tiny house and live in the woods? Am I just daydreaming of financial freedom and a slower life?
Would having a backyard or garage make me happier? Or would it just be one more area to keep clean and manage?
Would a third bedroom solve the struggles and fights over exactly which child made the biggest mess and failed to clean it up? I’m fairly certain that the squabbles wouldn’t stop and I’m pretty sure more space to clean and mange is not what I need.
How much stuff do I need to rid myself (and my children) of to feel happy in my home? And how do I get my kids on board? How do I avoid my own guilt in ridding them and us of their toys? How do I avoid repeating the regret I have about a few items I have purged years ago?
Before I helped my kids downsize their rather sizable stuffed animal collection, I prepared and sold outgrown clothes at a recent consignment sale. And when I dropped off all those outgrown clothes and adorable dresses at the consignment sale, did I feel happy to rid myself of the clutter?
NO! I wanted to gather all the adorable dresses that I could still picture my babies in, put them in a box in the back of a full storage unit and attempt to hold on a little longer to my babies that are growing so quickly.
But I didn’t. Instead I watched my sales online as each of those adorable dresses sold for $5 or $10 or $3. I resisted the urge to return to the sale and rummage around collecting those dresses under a hair-brained idea that I would make them into a quilt. I’ve never quilted. I’m not really interested in learning.
And truthfully, I’d prefer to spend my time crafting or reading or playing outside with my kids making new memories and enjoying our times together. Quilting seems rather precise and lonely.
But back to our stuffed animal collection.
I piled nearly 200 stuffed animals on my bed and invited each child to come in for a half hour to find 15 stuffed animals they would like to keep. Some negotiations were allowed. Some stuffed animals were off-limits to being cut.
I also agreed to bag up those stuffed animals that didn’t make the cut and keep them in storage for month before donating. Thereby allowing for kids to make trades if they later had regrets.
My oldest systematically sorted through the pile with minutes to spare and minimal negotiations. I agreed three tiny stuffies could count as one.
My youngest haphazardly chose fifteen for herself within a matter of five minutes.
And my middle? We spent more than an hour together sorting and contemplating each choice. Feeling and considering the fate of those that were chosen to stay as well as the fate of those not chosen.
Equal does not always mean fair. It’s a common phrase used in our home. And so I will admit that more negotiations and allowances were made for my middle daughter. I gave her the horse she bought at camp this summer and she ended up with 17 stuffed animals.
And me? I’ll also admit I rescued that souvenir Pica from Mt. Rainier and the Manatee from Ft Myers that was bought long ago on a trip they probably don’t remember.
Poco y Poco!