Every night, the battle rages as I plead, cajole, argue, and (OK, I’ll admit) yell at my son to put his effing toys away and clean up his room. I trip over Dinky cars; I find Planes characters in *my* lunch bag. There are Star Wars figurines strewn across his bed, LEGO masterpieces piled precariously on the nightstands, and stuffed animals stuffed into the closet – with the door slammed shut before they escape.
Until I snapped and attacked my son’s bedroom armed with garbage bags and the determination to decrease the amount of stuff that’s polluting our lives.
Only a month prior, we swept through the entire house and removed bags upon bags of unworn, unloved, or too-small clothes, old books, old toys and other stuff we just didn’t need. It’s almost embarrassing to acknowledge the amount of stuff we’ve accumulated over the years and even more embarrassing to admit how hard it is to clear it all out. We’ve become attached to stuff; we’ve filled our lives with cold, ultimately meaningless, stuff.
While my son was away, I filled grocery bags with toy sets and garbage bags with broken toys; I sorted LEGO, toy cars and trucks, Thomas the Tank Engine toys, and ruthlessly whittled down his book collection. Bag by bag, item by item, I took more than half of the toys in my son’s room into the hallway before loading them in my car and donating them to a local centre.
And then it hit me: The Mommy Guilt.
I looked at partner and asked if I’d done a bad thing; should I have waited? Was it cruel? He didn’t have an answer, and together we settled on the decision that I had simply made room for my son to be creative, to store his toys neatly, and – of course – I gave him space for his Christmas gifts. I tried to wash the guilt away with this notion and, eventually, it worked.
Although he was a little bummed to realize his toys were gone (and never coming back), F took it well when I announced I’d purged his bedroom. Upon entering his clean and much-less-cluttered bedroom, he announced it was so clean and so nice. I took it as a win.
In what might be best be described as a chicken-egg situation, I can’t decide if this experience was sparked by or sparked my decision to focus on experiences over stuff in 2017. After years of spoiling ourselves with the newest toys, clothes, and home items I decided to cut out gifts and concentrate on ways we can build memories. We’re going to fill our hearts instead of our home, and the removal of seven grocery bags, one garbage bag and three shoe boxes was only the first step.
(And last night, I only had to ask that the room be cleaned twice – a new record low.)