We’ve been cleaning out the kids’ rooms today. CLEANING OUT. The kind of cleaning that involves boxes, trash bags, the vacuum, and a few tears. Because my children, bless ’em, have inherited their mother’s tendency to hold on to E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I’m mature enough (usually) to fight this tendency in myself. They’re not.
In an effort to respect their stuff, I tried not to do a total toss-it-all-to-the-curb cleaning. There was a large box full of
junk waste garbage treasures that I thought they might actually want to keep. So last night, we went through the box, item by item, while they tried to convince me that their little lives would surely end if I threw any of this stuff away.
The items included many, many Happy Meals toys that had never been played with since the moment they entered our house, a hacky sack devoid of its stuffing, Hot Wheels cars without tires, and a purple plastic ninja whose head had been chewed off by our dog.
"Mom!" the little darlings begged in chorus, "we LOVE this stuff! It’s our fa-a-a-a-avorite!"
And then, in a rare moment of inspired parenting, I made a deal with them. "You can keep each of these things, but you have to spend 30 minutes playing with that item, and that item alone, tomorrow."
There were looks of bewilderment all around, while they tried to imagine what they could do with a headless action figure for half an hour. "If it’s fun enough to keep, it’s fun enough to play with for 30 minutes," I explained.
And wonder of wonders, the WHOLE BOX went into the trash, without argument. Can it be that I’ve finally found a way to inspire them to throw things away? I’m filing this one away to use again.
For more inspired parenting suggestions, visit Owlhaven’s Opinion Saturday today. And stay tuned, because I’m so pleased about my kids’ organized rooms I may just post some pictures this week. If I can find my camera buried under all the stuff I don’t want to throw away….