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The Purge: How Throwing Out Our Stuff Made us Happier

Decluttering Toys
Decluttering Toys

There I was. Again. Sitting crisscross applesauce in an endless pile of Legos, Barbies, stuffed animals and train tracks… and I thought to myself is it even worth it to have all this STUFF?!

If you can relate, decluttering toys and other junk may be just what your family needs too.

Three times a week I sat in the same spot on the floor, directing my two oldest children (ages 4 and 2) on how to sort through the insane chaos that was their room. Since we’ve started renovations on our two-year-old’s bedroom, the two of them have been sharing a space. It has not been working. Every day, I was filled with dread as I climbed the stairs. It was so bad I wanted to avoid going up there altogether.

But their room wasn’t the only problem. Their toys often overflowed to the living room and dining room. Our unsightly pile of shoes next to the front door was less than welcoming. The dining room table was less of an eating space and more of a clutter catch-all. In general, it felt as though I could never catch up to the ever-growing exhausting mess created by our unending sea of “stuff.”

The Realization

When talking to other people about the never-ending work of being a stay-at-home mom, it was often chalked up to “that’s life with three kids.” But did it have to be?

I personally felt that if we had more organizational space like shelves and bins, I would be able to breathe. This wasn’t necessarily wrong. But I was avoiding the true issue. Then I read this blog post on Motherly and had to face the music.

To give you the short synopsis, the article covers an experience this blogger had when she realized that tending to all of her family’s “stuff” was taking away her joy as a mother. They had so many things which they flat out did not need that it became overwhelming. She wasn’t enjoying her kids, and her kids weren’t truly happy either. Sound like anything you’ve got going on? It really hit home for me.

We needed to purge our stuff.

More stuff, more problems #declutter #organization #home

Much like the author in the above article, my happiness was stolen every time I stared into the abyss of my children’s toys. The majority of my stress stemmed from their room. It was even so overwhelming for them that it seemed they didn’t even know how to play.

Does it ever seem like your kids’ toys have 12,000 little pieces that you as an adult aren’t even sure what to do with? Of course, at two and four, it’s hard to keep track of it all. Of course it was getting lost! It should have been no surprise that my kids were losing sight of what it meant to play and instead were adopting a mess-making attitude toward play time.

To My Surprise

So, I grabbed the box of trash bags and headed upstairs with a little less dread than usual. Instead of doing this purge while the kids were gone, I opted to include them in the cleansing process.  What happened next was completely shocking for me.

I expected tears. I thought I would have to persuade them. This was going to be a stressful day, but they would learn about letting go of excess and giving to others, right?

But there were no tears. There was no need for persuasion. There was no stress.

We actually had fun.

How We Did It

First, I made it clear anything that was put into a bag would be leaving our home permanently.

  1. We designated one of the bags as trash. It would be filled with anything that could not be given to someone else because it was either broken or had lost pieces.
  2. The second bag was for donating. This bag would include anything that they didn’t want but thought another child might like.

After I explained what each of the bags were for and that anything they wanted to keep could be put into their toy boxes, they automatically got to work.

A Lesson From my Littles

I was surprised at their willingness to get rid of toys I hadn’t even dreamed they would purge. But it taught me about which toys were truly important to them and which ones I was holding onto for my own reasons.

For example, they each chose to donate a couple of things they had just gotten for Christmas. I was taken aback. But you just got these! Are you sure?

“Yeah, Mommy. I want to give it to a kid that doesn’t have any cool toys.”

It's amazing how much I can learn through the eyes of my kids #momlife

That’s when I realized: I had wanted to teach them about charity by including them in this process, but instead they were teaching me. What was my problem? After all, I was the one who had wanted to do this. What good was keeping a toy if they didn’t like to play with it? I certainly didn’t want to discourage their newfound heart for giving. Reluctantly, I allowed them to throw anything into the donate bag that they insisted they weren’t interested in.

Suddenly, the weight started to lift from my shoulders. We picked up momentum and began filling up bag after bag until only their favorites were left in their room. Then my husband loaded it all up the van, and we drove off into the sunset to be rid of our excess stuff forever. It was freeing.

And it Didn’t Stop with Decluttering Toys

It also trained my eyes to see other “stuff” we didn’t need. Soon, our shoe pile was eradicated, and our dining room table could once again be used for family meals. Don’t get me wrong–the house is still a work in progress! It will be some time before we’re 100% organized (if ever). But the purge has brought a new sense of ease in our home.

If you’re feeling like organizing your junk is a constant struggle, I highly recommend it. And if you include your kids in the process, they may just surprise you.

Until next time,

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