This week I helped my daughter clean out her room.
Not just clean, but sort through all her stuff, toss the extra papers and broken toys, find places to put everything, insert a hook into the wall for her purses, vaccuum and fill a trash bag!
When did we accumulate this much junk?? Her room was so stuffed with toys that we couldn't even walk! I'm thankful that she was very willing to get rid of a good portion of the excess and now everything has a place. The room is tidy, I have a great feeling of accomplishment and all is well.
But Christmas is just around the corner. And after that we have three children with birthdays in January, February and March. Much more "stuff" will be coming into our house. Ugh.
I feel that I am not doing a good job of parenting in this area. We do have way too much stuff. I admit that. In the area of toys, we've failed at the "less is more" idea. We're reading the Little House series and I don't think my kids have yet realized the implications of Laura and Mary only having one doll and a string of paper dolls or beads to play with. My kids just can't fathom that! I'm glad we have more than that, but do we really need ALL of this? Must we keep the dolls, tinkertoys, blocks, legos, puzzles, cars, costumes, coloring books, ponies, stuffed animals, games, books, star wars stuff and K'nex?
On the flip side, there are some things on which we haven't compromised. Our kids don't play video games. We don't have a Wii or an XBox. They spend very little time on the computer and lots of time in imaginary play and reading books.
But that brings me back to my point. If they play so well with their imagination and we can continuously get books and videos from the library, is it even necessary to have most of these toys? Probably not. Definitely not.
Herein lies the rub ... how in the world do you get your kids to let go of their toys so that you can encourage their "imaginations"? Offering to send those toys to kids who have few or no toys doesn't always work. Snatching the toys when the kids are out of the house doesn't work. (Well it works, but you end up with tantrums and angry children who no longer trust you.) And how do you convince yourself that certain toys are good to get rid of? Some toys are great for the imagination and for learning.
I guess the only thing to do is to teach our children - beginning today - that stuff isn't what it's all about. We need to be on guard against continuously buying them what they desire.
And I suppose it would be good to review that lesson for myself while I'm at it. As I begin to clean my own room, I'm realizing that my children have likely just copied my own behavior. Ouch, that truth stings!