Since my wife and I made the decision to downsize some things, we have been eliminating possessions like hot air balloon ballast. Our garage sale that was held last weekend was a big step in getting our “stuff” down to a manageable size. Don’t get me wrong, we still have too much stuff; it’s just that now there is a little bit less of it.
Obviously, the act of moving into an apartment from a house requires the jettison of some now-superfluous items. Lawn and garden tools have been rendered unnecessary along with a great deal of other “fix-it” items from the garage. Our basement, once a storehouse for excess (and excessive) furniture is now all but bare, with a small pile of boxes in the corner that is ready to move. Honestly, our front yard looked like a flea market furniture store last Saturday, and it all sold. In fact, other than my Newcastle Brown Ale sign (which I was reluctant to part with anyway) the few items that did not sell are already packed up and ready to be dropped off to a local non-profit.
The miracle part of this whole process is that we also managed to get rid of a lot of toys that the girls either don’t really play with anymore or that are too big to take with us. They honestly didn’t really care about most of them. With the exception of a large Mickey Mouse ball, which Little Pink looked at longingly for a few seconds, the kids didn’t put up any fuss about it. They have certain things that they play with on a regular basis. I think that they have a better understanding of what they value and what they enjoy playing with thanks to this little exercise. In fact, I think that parents (and grandparents) tend to assign value to toys more so than the kids do. I know that as they age, their desires and demands will become more difficult to dissuade. Right now, though, they seem pretty reasonable and rational when it comes to possessions. Our oldest will entertain herself with a mirror; that’s just how she is. Our youngest does more actual playing with toys, such as the dollhouse and Barbies, but she has particular favorites, and most of the time she will occupy herself for hours with a small doll and a couple of outfits.
Again, they still have too much stuff, but it is a workable amount for now. I have a feeling that the real battle will begin as we approach the holiday season. If any grandparent decides to go a little “crazy” on the gifts this year, they will also need to budget in the storage unit rental that will need to accompany said purchases. We don’t have the room. This is a good thing, in my opinion. It frees up funds to buy one quality gift that the girls will really enjoy. All too often, I feel, people employ a “spray pattern” of gift buying for kids instead of targeting their specific desires. I know that 75% of gifts purchased for my kids get played with approximately once before they are tossed into the toy box and forgotten about. Sometimes this is simply because so many more toys get piled on top that they never see it again. In order to combat this, I would like my kids to pursue activities that interest them. Toys and activities aren’t just ways to kill time or a distraction for kids; they are modeled interests that reveal parts of their personality. They are tools that allow kids to explore and grow in the world. If you don’t let them focus on the things that interest them, they will never know what does interest them. If I constantly introduce new toys into the mix, then they never have time to actually be interested in anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cause of ADD was too many damn toys as a kid.