If how we spend our money and our time reflects what we value, then I value cheap plastic toys and diapers. I value buying amusing things that Miss H plays with for about 3 minutes, then putting them away over and over again. Washing cloth diapers, buying and throwing away disposable diapers, sorting them, organizing them. Always. The diapers can’t be avoided in this season of life, but I long to be free from the clutter that rules our lives. It’s not just my little ones, either. I have plenty of my own useless things that float around the house, looking for a place to land.
So much of what we buy these days is the result of really awesome marketers. Do you know what we DON’T need? A kitchen tool specifically for opening stubborn lids. My children DID NOT need a Bumbo seat to sit in for approximately 30 minutes. Besides, one of them had thighs that were too big for those little slots. But somehow we’ve been convinced that we have to have these things. The spell soon wears off, and then we’re stuck with clutter. Do we just accept the fact that we’ve been duped and get rid of our bad purchases? No. We hang onto the guilt and keep them around, creating mounds of clutter to remind of us of our bad choices. I’m fighting this cycle for my children’s sake.
How Clutter Affects Children
My one word resolution for the year is “less”. I want to own less stuff, make fewer purchases, and eat less ice cream (I’m failing there). If education is an atmosphere like Charlotte Mason stated, and if my children’s brains develop the most in the first five years, then I need to create a better atmosphere for them.
Clutter has a negative affect on us. It…
- Decreases our ability to focus. As I work to teach my children the habit of attention, this sets us back. This article from Unclutter.com explains the science behind clutter’s impact on our attention.
- Produces sensory overload.
- Increases the mother’s stress hormones, which in turn can cause the child to feel more stressed. Lifehacker.com explains how this happens.
- Takes time away from teaching or playing with our children to constantly clean up.
- Increased stress in the atmosphere has a negative impact on a child’s ability to learn (see this Washington Post article).
Beyond the educational aspect, I don’t want my children to value their stuff most of all. I want them to see that we spend our money on family experiences and giving to others, and that we spend our time following Jesus.
Here’s How I’m Fighting It
- Determine which toys my kids actually play with, and how beneficial they are to them
- Donate toys, clothes, and other stuff that we don’t need anymore. Gave hand-me-downs to friends and family
- Avoid trips to Target- if I really have to get something, hopefully I can pick it up at the grocery store or on Amazon
- Read Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soulfor inspiration. I have read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on purpose, because I think it puts to much emphasis on the actual things. I want to take the focus off of the stuff.
- Keep track of what I’ve brought into the house and what I get rid of with this worksheet.
What’s your take on clutter? What do you do to cut back on it?
Photo Credit: FeeLoona via Pixabay