I throw away my kids’ art in front of them. Sounds brutal, doesn’t it? It’s not always easy, but I can promise you it’s never harsh. Sometimes there are conversations involved, sometimes it’s because the piece in question has been hanging around on the floor for one too many days. Nevertheless, they have been trained. I have been trained! I can’t keep every iota that my child has graciously stroked with a pencil, pen, or paintbrush – nor do I want to.
We keep some special pieces for a little while before they are discarded and we keep very few long term, but 98% of the papers my kids produce go in the trash – out of my house – forever. I’ve been intentional to parent my young adults-in-training (AITs) to be capable of making decisions regarding their relationship with stuff. No secrets purges, no sneaking items in the trash while they’re asleep. They are a part of our declutter process. I am less guilty for it and blamed less when they can’t find something that is missing. By including them in the process of what they keep and discard, we are able to cultivate trust and open up conversations behind the ‘why’ of owning things.
The ‘why’ is a question I had to understand with my own things. I have to practice what I preach. Over six years ago, I found myself completely consumed with the level of possessions in my home. I was a new stay-at-home mom of two toddler-aged children struggling to make sure everyone was fed, bathed, kissed and tucked in at the end of the day while maintaining household chores and trying to be a good wife. I was covered up, stressed out, miserable and tired. When I took inventory of my days’ work, I realized much of my time went towards moving, shifting, washing and sorting things, and yet my house was hardly clean. What’s worse is that I wasn’t progressing in my efforts. I wasn’t getting more efficient at house-related chores. I wasn’t liking my stuff more each day. No, I was just simply preventing it from getting out of hand. The best efforts I had were to rearrange items day after day so nobody tripped over a toy and face planted on the kitchen floor. It was like some ancient society prison punishment where a man is forced to move a heavy rock twenty feet to the right, set it down only to pick it back up and moved it again twenty feet to the left. I had become a Manager of Stuff and it was pointless. I felt like I was losing my mind and some decisions had to be made.
All In A Days Work
1. Manager of Stuff
Numbers two and three had to take priority over number one. Since that season of my life, I feel like I have made leaps and bounds with stuff management. It is still a process and it always will be, but I hope to share some insight and practical solutions from what I’ve learned over the last few years.
May you find yourself on the pursuit to a life less cluttered…
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