When the Pickle was born, my husband and I had a few critical values that we agreed we would work very hard to instill in her from day one.
One, of course, is our faith. We believe that God has an amazing plan for this little one’s life, and we believe she was given to us by God to care for and guide in His ways so that she can one day live out His plan faithfully. That’s the big one.
But if learning to love God isn’t hard enough, we also want her to learn to love and serve other people. To be respectful. To be genuinely humble and giving. To realize that the world is not all about her. Wish us luck. Loving God is easy. Not loving yourself is the hard part!
One important aspect of that goal is to keep our home God-centered, not child-centered. More focused on a healthy marriage (and ultimately a healthy family) than a happy child at the expense of our values and our relationship (and our sanity). There were some very simple, practical things that would help contribute to this. Not the least of which was, our living area would be a living area for ALL of us. Not a playroom overrun by her toys. Living in a small apartment, this was critical for various reasons, but keeping our home non-Pickle-centered was the most important. Unfortunately, that’s been easier said than done…
In a world consumed by stuff, stuff and more stuff, we realized that the toys and clothes and “I want”s accumulate rapidly. And I am just as much at fault as the next person. I love buying her fun things or making her something special. I love hand-me-downs and pass-alongs (and we have received our fair share!) and I can’t say no to anything.
Believe me… we tried. We pleaded with our families to only get her ONE gift per unit at Christmas time. We tried asking for no presents at her first birthday party (haha). We limited our Christmas giving to three gifts and a stocking. But alas, here we are, two and a half years into her life, and she has more stuff than we know what to do with.
And here’s the worst part.
I’m sentimental. And I swear I have a photographic memory. Which means every stuffed toy. Every sock. Every Lego. Every book. Every doll. Every puzzle. I can tell you who it’s from. When she got it. Where we keep it. Heck, I could probably even tell you the last time she played with it. So everything she owns is attached to some one or some event, which makes it incredibly hard to get rid of anything.
Because what if they come over and see that it’s gone? What if they ask us about it and we’ve sold it or taken it to Goodwill? What if she doesn’t ever wear it in front of them and they think we don’t like it or that she NEVER wore it?
I lose sleep over this stuff at night, people.
But this weekend, thanks to a blog I stumbled upon, I was reminded of the most important stuff in my life.
The stuff of our (read: OUR) family values. The stuff of building good character, not a good Lego collection. The stuff of a joyful and content child. The stuff of experiencing life, not getting lost amidst the excess. The stuff of pleasing God, not others.
You see… The woman in this blog took her girls’ toys away. Literally. Took everything out of their room.
And you know what? The world didn’t end.
They did not crumple to a heap on the floor and spend the rest of their lives bored to death.
You know what they did? They started imagining more. They started playing together instead of fighting over things. They started coloring. And reading. And living.
So this weekend I was feeling inspired. If this woman could do it, and her girls survived, then surely I could purge and we would all be ok. Right?
No, I didn’t empty the Pickle’s room. But I did finally bite the bullet and bag up all the ‘sentimental’ toys that she had long outgrown, hardly played with, or didn’t even know existed.
I was as extreme as I could be. Leaving only her blocks, her puzzles and a few other toys downstairs. And only leaving her kitchen, her drum, one basket of dolls/animals and her toolbox available to her in her room. Everything else was put high on the shelf in her closet to be rotated in and out at designated times, tucked away in her craft box in our storage closet, or bagged up to be sold, given away, or kept for baby number two (if that ever happens)
I promise you, it’s almost eerie to look in her room right now. It’s so… clean. And empty. But I feel like she has room to breathe!
And honestly… so do I.
(This is getting long and I have a lot of thoughts and struggles to share about this day, so I will post again about my purging experience at a later date. And who knows… this felt so good, I might have done a purge of my own stuff between now and then!)