Day 6: Quit While You’re Ahead (Of The Kids)

600 things gone, only 9,400 to go

There are 60 things in my downstairs bathroom cupboard waiting to be hustled out of here.  I gathered them while my kids were in the bath this morning.  My boys are 4 & 8, by the way, so there was no drowning hazard.

They played “guys” while I found “guys” –  all kinds of little plastic figures that they end up dropping in the bathroom drawers while they’re brushing their teeth.  I find the odd smelling plastic toys from McDonald’s the easiest to part with.

Yes, my kids have eaten at the table of the yellow clown.  I try to keep it to a minimum, if not only to protect their health, to protect myself from things like this:

I also found 5 old toothbrushes, 9 bottles of essential oils long since expired and a brush I never liked and never used.  The brilliant thing is I only have 40 more things to amass to meet my 100 thing quota.

And that is a very good thing.

Yesterday, I tried to do something more complicated and it backfired – badly.  I involved my four year old in a “project.”  During our special time together, I took him downstairs to his bedroom and suggested we get rid of the “baby” things he no longer wants.  He was keen at first.  He wants to be just like his big brother which means no teddy bear music boxes for him!

Unfortunately, he lost interest after about 10 minutes and 20 things while I was still 80 things short of my goal.  I encouraged him to stick with it.  He heard his older brother turn on the X-Box upstairs and bolted for the door.  I insisted he stick with it.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do – teach our kids to finish what they start?

Except he didn’t really start anything, did he?  He just good-naturedly tagged along while I started something for him.  Still, I wasn’t ready to give up:

“If you help Mom get rid of all the baby things, we can go to the store and get you some wall art like your brother’s,”  I bribed.

That was good for about 10 more books and 45 minutes with frequent breaks to read the books he wanted to keep.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for literacy.

Finally I decided we’d both had enough, but I’d made a promise – and he was holding me to it.  Off to Michael’s we went.  I was looking for those vinyl art decals that you can stick on the walls without destroying the paint.  Big brother has skateboards and I was hoping to find bikes for the little man.

Of course, they were out of stock.  But he did find a 3-D crayola art kit he wanted for $24.99.   I examined the contents.  I’d thrown out stuff like this before.  Do I really want to see those 3-D glasses in the garbage again?

By now I was really tired and decided if this art kit was my ticket out of Michael’s, so be it.  Except – what’s this I see on the way to the checkout?  – a bin of glow swords for $3.95 each.

“Honey, do you maybe want a glow sword?”

“Yeah, and one for my brother.”

“You’ll have to put back this art set…”

A quick calculation told me two $3.95 glow swords were going to look much better in the garbage than a $25 art set.

You may be thinking:  Why not decorate the walls with something you already have  –  like his own art or recycled paper cutouts of bikes?  Or why decorate the walls at all?  Give him a blank space on which to project his imagination.

And you’re absolutely right – but I’m not there yet.  I may be in another 94 days.

So for those of you who are, like me, just starting out on a more minimalist path, my advice is this:

Your kids/spouse/boss/pets will derail you – it’s their job.  But you don’t have to end up at Michael’s.  Quit while everyone is still smiling.  If you’re worried you’ll run out of time later in the day – go purge 100 things from your bathroom drawer, or the pantry, or your jar of bolts – anything quick and easy!  Then get some sleep.  There will be more to dispose of tomorrow.

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