I have too much stuff. I've mentioned this before. My children also have too much stuff. Since I'm the one that bought most of it and they don't quite get what minimalism is, it can be tougher to get rid of their stuff than my stuff. Tougher for me, it turns out.
Recently I gave each of my children a trash bag and told them to fill it with the stuff in their respective rooms that they didn't want anymore. What I really meant was to fill it with the stuff I don't think they need to keep. I realized this when my son, Hayden, filled his bag full of books (Ahh!) and my daughter, Abby, put a certain sentimental stuffed animal in hers.
Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of stuffed animals. At all. They seem to multiply like the bunnies they represent. And really, what are you supposed to do with them all?** I chuck those things out like rotten vegetables (my apologies if you've ever given me or my kids a stuffed animal). However, one stuffed animal in particular that didn't make the 'keep it' cut was Sheepy. (It was named by a 3 year old.)
I received Sheepy at Abby's baby shower. When I opened 'her', my cousin Brandē said, "every child needs a lovey." Oddly enough the big fluffy sheep became my daughter's. She has dragged that thing everywhere and it has slept with her for the better part of her life. Why then did Sheepy find her way into a trash bag?
"Look at it, mom. It's gross." was Abby's answer. And she's right. Sheepy has seen better days. For a while, our male cat, Boris, took a "liking" to Sheepy so she got washed a lot. She isn't fluffy anymore. She is matted and dingy. And I could not stop myself from taking her out of the bag.
Here is Sheepy:
I have been ruthless with my own childhood "lovies" and mementos but I could not bear to see my nine year old daughter be ruthless with hers. I had a brilliant opportunity to encourage her not to hang on to things; to teach her that our memories are much more important than the useless objects we surround ourselves with that clutter up our lives. And I choked. The sad reality is that my daughter already has a better handle on letting go of things than I do.
I took most of the books out of Hayden's bag and put them in his little brother, Charlie's room; much to the protest of Charlie who complained he didn't want the books either. Too bad. Learn to read, then we'll talk, kid.
As for Charlie's bag, I was really proud of all the stuff he put in there: a bunch of cars, a few plastic dinosaurs, some Legos, and random toy food from the toy kitchen. "Oh yeah, he gets it," I thought. Unfortunately, when I tried to take the bag from him to put it with the rest of the Goodwill stuff, he was appalled by the suggestion and yelped in horror. Turns out he didn't quite understand the exercise. He spent the rest of the day playing with his bag of stuff.
The trash bag debacle has taught me two valuable lessons in my minimalist journey: I need to be willing to let go of my kids' sentimental stuff, not just my own; and the next time I want to clear stuff from my boys' rooms, I need to do it while they're at school.
**If you can't bear to let go of the stuffed animals, the Guru has a solution for you.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: I receive no kick backs from the Guru! I am a friend of hers, but I am also a customer. (Though, I have not purchased the Stuffed Animal Beanbag Storage Chair. Obviously.)
I like to throw things.