It’s the middle of the night. Your child or dog wakes you. You have to get a glass of water/tissue/clean set of sheets/thermometer from another room. You get up, walk three steps, only to impale your foot on the wing of an airplane. Or roll your ankle on a ball. Or the worst: stab yourself in the middle of the tender part of your foot with a LEGO.
You are now hurt. Probably swearing. Adrenaline runs through you and getting back to sleep is only a wish and a dream. And you vow: tomorrow, we are taking care of this toy mess!
But tomorrow comes, and your child insists that EVERYTHING is precious. EVERYTHING is loved. They couldn’t possibly donate a single toy. **sigh** Is it worth the battle?
It doesn’t have to be a fight. What if we simply re-frame the issue of toys. Go from “what can we get rid of” to “what do we really love and want to keep?”
It takes some courage to do this. Because it means that we parents might have to get out of our own way. Most children are remarkable clear about what they love. A client was traveling last year with her kids and they had been away from home for several weeks. On the way back, she asked her child, “What toys are you looking forward to playing with at home?” He named two things. That’s it. He couldn’t think of any of the hundreds of other things he had at home.
I’ve had this experience with my own children. When away from their home, and asked to think of toys they love, about 2-4 things is the most they can come up with. I don’t believe we are wired to keep a tally of “things.” We know and catalog experiences, people and emotions. Less so with stuff.
But we have so much fear about letting go. What if we need it? What if they change their mind and cry for the thing? What if interests change? What if we have another baby? What if my child is hurt that we discarded things?
These questions and many more are all things I’ve gone through myself and have helped my clients to work through.
What I will say is this: The payoff is worth the process. To feel more calm as a family unit, to have more time to go out and play, spend less time picking up stuff- these have been huge for me and my clients.
So give it try. Ask your child, when you are away from home next time, “What are your most favorite toys?” Then listen carefully to what they say.
Aloha, and Happy Tidying 🙂