Every so often I get the purging bug. I go through closets, drawers, storage and – dun, dun, dun – the playroom. We try on clothes to see what’s now outgrown, we put game pieces back in their boxes, we find things that have gone missing. And we get rid of the stuff we no longer need or use. It is truly one of the most satisfying things I do.
For me, I’m sure the need to clear out stuff stems from growing up in a house that had a lot in it. My mom always did and still has every nook and cranny in her house filled with things… things she once needed, things she needs now, things she may need in the future. Having all of those things around made me feel cluttered and overwhelmed, so I went in the opposite direction when I set up my own home. My closets are rarely filled to capacity. I have dressers in this house that have some empty drawers. I have a few empty hangers that have no clothes on them. There is even some space in my garage.
Occasionally we will acquire more stuff and areas will become filled and I will eventually feel the need to clear more stuff out. I have gone every route over the years to get rid of things… garage sales, consignment, online auctions and sales, bulky trash amnesty day, donations. There are some great causes that will even send someone to my house to pick up that which I no longer want or need. I love the feeling I get when I give away something that once served purpose in my life so that it may now serve a purpose for someone else. I also love when I make 25 cents on a pair of pants that cost me 40 dollars. I know you can’t hear it, but that last sentence was dripping with so much sarcasm that I have to wipe the rest off of my keyboard. Still, getting rid of things I no longer need feels good to me.
Sometimes, though, the same can not be said for my kids. When they were little, they wanted to keep every single thing that crossed the threshold. Forever and ever and ever. So I let them. Fortunately, they quickly changed their minds once their rooms became unlivable amidst a sea of papers and projects and plastic crap. And the purging gene was passed along the generations…
Yet every once in a while I have to clear out some things that take up a lot of space and that the kids haven’t touched or even thought about in over a year, except of course when they see it in the pile to be donated to Goodwill. Then it becomes their “favorite toy ever” and they insist that they “play with it every single day.” When I relent and let them have the thing back it almost always goes back to its job as a dust collector after just a few days. It is complete B.S. and drives me bonkers, so I started clearing out many of those things when the kids were out of the house so I could do my job without tiny protesters shouting “bad mommy” jeers me.
For example, Kids D and E once had a Hot Wheels track that did not disassemble or break down in any way. It was plastic and bulky and not even a very fun track. They used it for a while and then it went off to a high shelf to suffer the shame of toys no longer loved (Shout Out! Toy Story movies) until I decided to get rid of it to make space for more plastic crap that was actually in active playroom rotation. I made the rookie mistake of leaving the track, along with several other items to be donated, in a pile on my dining room table. The boys saw it there when they came home from school and I was immediately barraged with cries of dissent. But I held firm. I was getting that track out of this house.
Actually, we made a sort of compromise. Grandma and Grandpa happened to be visiting that weekend and Grandma was looking to add to her grandchildren’s playroom in West Virginia. Now Grandma is also one to never get rid of things… she still has toys that Sheepdog and his sister played with as kids (both wonderfully sentimental yet yucky at the same time, as no amount of Clorox is going to get all the nasty off of that 25-year-old Barbie Dream House). She indicated that she might like to have a Hot Wheels track so I said she could have ours and I reminded the boys that they could play with it whenever we went to visit. They were mollified by that and then (as I predicted) it was out-of-sight-out-of-mind with the track. They didn’t miss it for more than one minute as they happily played with the bajillion other toys that we own.
A fun little side note on how quickly kids forget things… the first time we went up to visit Sheepdog’s parents in West Virginia after I gave Grandma the track and she set up her new playroom, Kid D was wandering around their house after our very long drive, just kind of checking things out. He was deciding what fun toys to play with first when he made a very concerned face and pulled me aside. Then he whispered to me with all of the seriousness he could summon, “I think Grandma stole our hot wheels track. I just saw it in her playroom.”
I reassured him that Grandma is not a thief and I reminded him that we gave her the track the last time she was at our house. I think he believed me but then he added, “I’m gonna keep an eye on her just in case. Next thing you know she’ll probably try to steal some kisses from me.”
Wish me luck for tomorrow…