Putting Away Childish Things

decluttering depression toys

We have to clean out the toys, and Mommy doesn’t want to.

We have so many toys.  There’s always someone coming up, growing into someone else’s playthings, which means we don’t really get rid of toys, we just add on.  I still have baby toys from when my teens were little, and they are still played with by Miss J, age 2.

But some of these things have got to go.

Juli baby doll toy

We used to move a lot.  We moved 18 times in 12 years, before settling here in Houston.  I don’t miss moving but I do miss the whole house purge.  Once or twice a year, we’d literally go through every item in the house, deciding what to keep, and what had to go.  We would winnow down our life to fit inside cardboard boxes and U-Hauls.

I’d pack and pack and pack, then finally I’d hit the wall.  You know, where you are just DONE with it all, but you still have a pile of miscellaneous crapola that needs to be handled.  I call it the slash and burn stage.  All I wanted to do was set fire to anything left in the house and finish ALL. THE. PACKING. ALREADY.

The whole pile would get dumped in the trash.  Even the pieces that go to that one game, I think we still have the box somewhere.  Even the things that were “still good”.  Even the items that I could repurpose into a cute Pinterest worthy wreath of cleverness.

I was ruthless.

Bionicles arent fun any more

It’s been five years since I’ve packed and purged.  Five years since I’ve gone through everything we owned, and decided whether we really needed it, if it added to our lives, if it was worth hauling down the highway to our new home.  Five years since the last slash and burn.

My younger kids have no idea how it’s done.  They’ve grown up hearing “I can use that for something” and “save that for next year”.

They have no problem letting go.  They bring me armfuls of stuff to get rid of.  No apologies.  No looking back.

They hand off their childhood, leaving it to me to toss away.

Gifts are carefully considered here.  I have never looked at the “Top 10 Hottest Toys” and bought up the trends.  I thoughtfully chose toys hoping to nurture habits and teach virtues. Now I have to face the not-so-popular toys.  The picks I made that just weren’t right.   Time and effort and money, squandered and I have to admit that maybe I don’t know them as well as I thought. That my careful consideration wasn’t careful enough.  That I failed to meet their needs.

patrick robert growing up

Maria Montessori called it the secret of childhood.  The mysterious life of a child, unfolding piece by piece, day by day.  I don’t know everything they think, I can’t control what they feel.

I don’t want to, actually.  I want them to be independent.  To become their own person, to grow to be men and women of worth who change the world in ways big and small.

I don’t want them to depend on me forever.  But maybe they could depend on me, just a little while longer?

It’s hard to suddenly face the reality of a boy inching closer to becoming a man.  But here it is, laid before me in a pile of plastic pieces. Outgrown.  So much of his world was consumed by these little Bionicles, so many allowances spent, so many hours passed.  It’s a pile of my son’s boyhood.

It’s hard to toss them.  It’s hard for me to toss them.  He shrugs them off, putting off childish things one by one.  As it should be.

So I sort and toss.  Sunrise, Sunset. But I might keep a few back for baby brothers, just for old time’s sake.

I love comments. Tell me what you think!

  • Ellen Delap January 6, 2014, 10:52 pm

    Its a brave mom who faces decluttering. I know this was a busy day. Each time you help your kids learn baby steps of decluttering, you are empowering them to create positive changes in their worlds. Great job taking the first steps!

  • Jessica January 7, 2014, 1:13 am

    I too have trouble letting go of some things the kids decide are ready to go on to a new home. Maybe it’s because our sense of time is different. They spent a large portion of their allowance on it, but they have also played with it a generous portion of their life. I’m glad I’m pushed to purge though. The family is always sending more toys and I have to stay on top of it or we’ll drown.

  • Jaimee January 15, 2014, 1:07 pm

    After reading this post and your post about no-tech/low-tech gifts for Christmas, I have to ask…do you have your kids write Christmas/Birthday lists? I currently do not and I try to be very thoughtful about the gifts I give to my girls (5 and 3). However, this Christmas was rough, especially with the older one not getting what she “wanted.” I didn’t ask her what she “wanted,” but I’m wondering if I should have. Thoughts?

  • HannaC February 4, 2014, 10:05 am

    I love decluttering to a slightly mental degree. Whenever I am stressed out and feel too busy, I want to get rid of something: a couple bags of toys, clothes that aren’t being used, a piece of furniture is the best! And when I do organize, and haul a bag to the garbage and another to goodwill, I feel good. I guess I’m just not a sentimental person, but from where I’m standing, stuff means more cleaning and organizing and bother and worry, and with 5 kids, and 6 on the way, I have all the cleaning, organizing, bother and worry I care to have.


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Desperately thrifty mom of 10, sharing my frugal tips, easy shortcuts, recipes, and thoughts on natural living and real food.

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