Teaching your kids about stuff

It is very tricky to teach kids how to appreciate what they have, how to treat stuff with respect, how to tidy up their stuff, when the house is otherwise overloaded!

I mean, how can they learn to put their stuff away if the house always seems messy anyway. How can they learn the value to a tidy space, if the space still looks chaotic after they are done putting away their own stuff.

If you are by nature a somewhat messy person, it may be time to reflect on why, and how you can change.

I definitely had to come to terms with a lot of my own personal issues about keeping things when we went through the whole purge! Check out some of the chaos and overwhelm from my post: Getting sick of the piles and obstacle courses!

It’s so great how stuff brings back memories, almost as if the memory was from yesterday! But it can hinder so much of your current day, that it almost seems not worth it! For example, if you have artistic kids, then you may have just a couple pieces of art work laying around the house. Have you kept it all? I know that I used to keep SOO much of it. Like a squiggly line that was supposed to be a drawing of a worm we dug out of the garden. But years from then, and even years from now, am I even going to remember that? Let’s say, I write on the drawing to capture what it was, am I really going to care still, years from now? I mean it’s literally a piece of paper with a squiggle! It’s not a masterpiece!! AND, if the kids continue to be artistic, then they’ll create even better masterpieces!

It’s so hard to decide whether it’s worth keeping all of these paper items. Drawings from school, actual school work that they did well on, cut and paste work where they did exceptionally terrible cutting…are you going to miss it, if it’s tossed? Will you even remember if you aren’t able to pull it out 10 years from now to show off the terribly hilariously awful skills?

I have a folder, that I keep throughout the school year of random papers or projects like the ones above. But at the end of the year, I try to go through it with the kids to see if there is any favourite work that they would like to keep in their folder. In subsequent years, we go through them all again – yes, it’s a lot of work, but it shows the kids how new, better, memories are created every year! Though they may have loved their squiggle at the end of the year it happened, they may prefer some sort of 3D drawing that they made the following year! They start to learn the power they have, over their stuff!

Even though they once cherished their beloved drawing, they have now found better things to keep. Over time, that little lesson or the way they learn to think about their stuff, hopefully, sets them up to keep only the things they really love! AND, they learn that it’s ok to get rid of something they used to love!

Decluttering kids toys is another great opportunity of how we can teach our kids to think more critically about their stuff. A special toy received from a loved one can mean a lot to a kid, especially if they were hoping for that specific toy for a while before getting it. It can be hard for kids to part with that object, because they may not easily be able to separate their interest in the toy from their memories of getting or playing with the toy. If they get rid of the toy, they may feel like they are also getting rid of the emotions that go along with it. We need to teach them that there are ways to keep those big feelings and STILL get rid of the toy. Spending time reminding them of how excited they were to initially get the toy, can go a long way to having them learn that they can give that same feeling to someone else! “Wouldn’t it feel amazing?” I say to my youngest, as he retorts “No! I love it still!!! It’s mine, I want to keep it!!” Sooooo, it’s a bit of a process! Needless to say, I also remind them of how you get better at something with practice. Start with something you know they don’t care as much about, and have them give it to a friend. This can be a powerful example of how good it can feel to donate stuff! They feel less attachment to the item, AND they get to see the joy on someone else’s face as they receive it!

When you are done tidying a space with your kids, encourage them to play in it! Encourage them to make a controllable mess by pulling out a toy or project they otherwise haven’t been able to enjoy due to the mess. Show them how great it is to use the clean space to play! Of course, have them clean up after so they get it back to that tidy space!

To build the practice go through your stuff, at least once per year; it’s a great routine to get into and habit to build on. Even if you declutter some of your stuff every month, I bet you’ll find a bag or box worth of things to get rid of every time you do it! People change! Interests change! Things that were once a priority may not be anymore, so why keep it?

Some stuff is worth keeping and cherishing, and it’s important that we try to teach our kids the difference.

Good luck decluttering some of the stuff before the holidays!!

Thanks for coming home!

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