July 25, 2012


I am the anti-hoarder.  I like to throw things away.  I mean . . . really, really like to throw things away.

I'm not super organized or neat.  My house is often a mess (by my standards, at least).  But I really, really like to simplify life by having less laying around . . . much to the dismay of my kids.

Happy meal toys last an average of 7 minutes once they're through the door.  Art projects are rarely saved for more than a day or two.  The really special ones do get left out for a while, but then move to storage.  When Jack was little, I had this grand vision of taking pictures of him with his art projects before we, um, "relocated" them, but I never kept the projects long enough to get around to photographing them.  A few times, we've had to dig through trash to find important lists or notes that Kyle has left laying around, because I thought they were trash and tossed them.  Back in May, I went through the boys' toys and got rid of half of them.  The other half were divided and stored according to our new toy storage system . . . which deserves an entire post of its own.

I do feel bad this week, though, after hearing about Jack's conversation with his grandma.  She told him that he left the mask he made in her car, and asked if he wanted it back.  His response was, "No.  If I bring it home, it'll just get thrown away."

Ugh.  That was like a kick in the stomach.

I don't really know how to find the balance, though.  Clutter makes me crazy.  I can't function in a cluttered house.  And honestly, what do you do when your child brings this home and wants to keep it forever and ever?

At the same time, I don't want my kids to feel like I don't value their creativity or have respect for what is theirs.  Will I look back 20 years from now and wish that I still had every preschool picture that Jack drew?  I don't think that I will.  But I don't want the boys to look back and remember a mom who was more intent on keeping the clutter down than on celebrating their creativity.

I hope that I can find that balance.  I would welcome any suggestions.


B said...

Hey Sara,

My mom gave each of her kids a memory box, which was only a small under-the-bed storage bin where she would allow us to keep the most important 'treasures' from our childhood.
The boxes had some of 'mom's choices', and those were permanent but any extra room was left up to us. The extra room filled up pretty fast and we were forced to decide which treasure was the most valuable to keep. Often times the decisions came with a few tears at first, but mom managed to help us through each heart-wrenching decision.
Just an idea :)

Melinda Maisner said...

Sara, this is more of a school aged idea, but soon you will be there : ) every year when they bring home art project, special papers, report cards etc. I store them in a drawer then at the end of the year I put all their work in their back pack that they used that year, it lets you go through what is important and what isn't and then store the backpacks in a storage tote... It won't last forever, soon they won't be brining home much so I figured we would only do this until 7/8 th grade!

Anonymous said...

You can write thank you notes on the other side of paper artwork and send it to relatives and friends. I'm not sure about sculptures

Erin said...

We have an under-the-bed bin, too. It's pretty big, but it works really well because Ella likes to pull it out and look through her own stuff. When it gets full, we go through it as a family and "make room for new things". That way, we get to prevent her from throwing away the 1 (or 20 if it's her dad) thing we really want, but nothing gets thrown away without her consent. It's a matter of choice for her - if the box lid won't snap, nothing goes in until something else comes out.

We actually do this with the "junk toys" as I call them, too. She has a plastic shoebox for those. When it's full, it has to be cleaned out. She can play with the McD's toys as long as she wants to keep them (some have lasted years!!), but if the lid doesn't snap, nothing else goes in.

It keeps the clutter away. I can't stand it either!!! It keeps Ella feeling like she has a say in her "treasures". And it provides designated times for weeding, purging, and talking about things together. "Why would you keep this one when you enjoy that one so much more?" "What is it about this that makes you want to throw it away?"

Plus, it's sort of fun to see how their minds process the issue, too.

ann said...

I am the same way. Josiah is just now starting to make more things. I am determined to keep up with picture taking of the projects!

Sarah said...

And when you find the balance, please share some of it with me. I AM the hoarder, and I need to learn how to throw away. Always afraid I'll throw away a memory or something I might need sometime. Terrible bad habit. I come by it honestly from my parents. My mom however has a beautiful organizational storage plan for her hoarding, and you'd never know if you didn't go in the storage areas. Mine is pretty evident. Re: artwork, I'm with you....I'm trying to take pictures or scan the special ones before pitching. It is too much to save.