When is the stuff in your home just too much? With 5 kids we have accumulated a lot of things. The good thing is that the younger girls have been able to benefit from hand-me-downs from their older sisters. Not so for our son. Hence, we have amassed more than we need over the years. I try to teach my children that things don’t matter as much as loving relationships. They understand how important family is, but they still want the clothes, toys, electronics, and just about anything that they can call their own.
Downsizing Your Life
Downsizing your life is a project. But, it is one that we have to continually keep up with to make us better parents and a stronger family unit. I am not suggesting that you have to give up your home and jump on the tiny house movement when you still have young kids at home. So, how can we declutter and bring more space and family time into our lives?
A good lesson for children is in giving to those less fortunate. The problem with just donating to a charitable organization that resells your stuff is that your children don’t get to see the happy face on the other side of that transaction. I have nothing against donating to these organizations. In fact, we do it all the time. Though, I do think participating in a local charitable giving event at least once a year can teach your children much more.
There are things like Toys for Tots or One Warm Coat where your children can be more interactively involved. Explain what the giving program is and get them excited about it. Create a donation box and ask your kids to fill it. Give them a few days to deal with this and their separation issues. Take them with you to drop off the donations so they can meet some of the people involved and be personally thanked for their kindness.
Make a “Can’t Live Without” Square
This idea does come from the Tiny House Nation Family series. The show hosts make a square of say 4’ x 4’ with colored tape on the floor for each child. (You can choose an appropriate size). Each kid is asked to place everything they can’t live without inside the square. Everything else is going to charity or just being gotten rid of. If you are an eBay seller, list the stuff and give the kids the proceeds for their savings accounts.
There is an added benefit to this – rooms will get cleaned up because your kids will be going through every drawer and shelf in the hopes they haven’t missed a precious item. Try doing this as part of your spring cleaning.
Get Rid of Baby Things
Unless you are planning to have more children, once the kids are all running and conversing intelligently, get rid of the milk bottle warmer, the baby monitor, the crib, the high chairs, bibs, bouncy seats, baby backpacks……… You get the point. This is stuff that takes up too much room. They will be outdated by the time your own children have babies. Donate these to a charitable reseller, give them to couples who are expecting, or have a yard sale.
Your goal, when downsizing your life, is to free up space to move about and to teach your children how to be less dependent on stuff and more charitable. You might also be teaching them a little bit about commerce by using platforms like eBay or a tag sale.