The Happiness of Being Unprepared

Off to the children’s museum!  Being a prepared, over-achieving, high-functioning mom, I had everything we could need for the day trip: one sippy cup for each child, a water bottle for me, snacks, diapers, wipes, Kleenex, money, phone and the list goes on.  I always feel smart and satisfied when I have my bag packed up with every imaginable item my little darlings could possibly need while we are out.

At the museum, I had all my supplies in my big bulky purse.  (I don’t carry a diaper bag anymore, just an oversized bag stuffed full of baby supplies.  Why carry two bags, right?)  Anyway, I spent all day chasing a 14 month old around and with this giant designer bag slinging from shoulder to shoulder.  It would slip off my arm every time I bent over to pick up my daughter and rocket down like a weighted pendulum nearly knocking her over.  Her bottom lip turned out and she wondered why mom was beating her with a purse all morning and I was exhausted in a few hours.   The bag was heavy, my daughter was heavy and my arms were full.  Did I use all of the neatly packed supplies I carried?  No, not one.  I was too occupied by lugging the bag, scooping up one child and chasing down my two year old.  I hit my breaking point long before the kids did and I marched them off to our SUV before one sippy cup had emerged from the tote.  Off we went to Taco Bell and all of us needed naps when we got home.

Two weeks later, I was back at the museum.  I took a tiny baby carrier that had just enough room for one diaper and a few wipes. I put my credit card in my back pocket and left all the burdens of being prepared behind.  We had a fabulous day!  I was hands free to hold and pick up my kids.  When we were thirsty, we drank from the water fountain.  When they got hungry, I didn’t rummage in my purse for crushed up bags of goldfish crackers, we went to the cafeteria and bought fresh grapes and cheese.

We all left that day with smiles on our faces.  I never imagined exchanging my carefully packed bag of baby supplies for a simple diaper could be so liberating!  I always thought toting everything you could possibly need was smart, but now, I feel like a genius.

Buy Buy Toys to Bye-bye Toys

“Another pull toy!” I exclaimed as a duck on a string emerge from the wrapping paper. It brought the total number of pull toys received Christmas morning to five!  Five new ones plus the two we already have at home from when my son was the right age for them.  Incredible!  I laughed aloud at the thought of seven pull toys in my house!

Is that a problem for you too?  It’s a major issue for us, and I don’t mean pull toys, I am talking about a general overload of stuff.  It was never this bad until we had kids, but now we have crossed the threshold to out of control with toys, books, baby equipment and clothes.  It has become a fungus of blinking, brightly colored, talking, quacking, ABC-singing plastic that has taken over every room of the house. What began in the nursery has spread into every room in the house and now even into our yard, garage and floorboards of our vehicles.

I have always felt an obligation to keep the gifts I have received and of course the nice items I purchased myself, but not in 2011.  I am making a change.  I am saying good-bye to toys, books and clutter. To make room for our new gifts, I am going to give away perfectly good and sometimes barely used items.  What choice do I have?  I don’t want stuffed animals and pull-toys in every room of the house so something has to go; actually, a lot has to go.  So good-bye stuff, time for order, balance, organization and tidiness.

My two-year-old son helped me get started. We went through all his stuffed animals and agreed on which ones to give away and which to keep.  Don’t get me wrong, we still kept more than he needs but they at least they now all fit in his toy basket.

Consider de-cluttering this New Year.  Make room in your home for the new gifts your child received at Christmas by creating space and time for their enjoyment.  Kids are more inclined to deeply engage and play with their toys when they are not overwhelmed and surrounded by piles of them.  Less is more.

Where to start?  Begin with boxing up all toys that have been outgrown or are not developmentally appropriate.  Then sort out all toys that are duplicates, broken, have missing pieces, or have not been played with in a year.  Use this same guideline for books and clothing.  Then it is time to say a final good-bye to your stuff and move it out the door.  Imagine how great you will feel with your new space and organized rooms!

The following list is a helpful resource of places to unload your stuff:

Call Big Brother Big Sister and they will come to your house and pick up donated items at no cost to you.

Look for donation bins accepting clothing, books and shoes in parking lots.  Check Safeway, CVS, and Target.

Sell it on Craig’s List.

Use an eBay Trader to sell items for you on-line. They take a 30-50% cut from your profits depending on the trader.  Or sell it yourself if you have the time.

Check out children’s consignment stores.

Donate to a crisis pregnancy center or another charity.

You can receive a tax deduction for a drop off at Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Offer it to a new mom or a friend.

If all else fails, the garbage truck comes every Wednesday!

No matter where you send your old things, you will be happy and feel like a weight has lifted off of you when the stuff is gone.  Anyone want a pull-toy?