Helping Kids Deal with Clutter
Dear K & K: My son used to love playing with Thomas the Train. But now he’s almost five, never plays with them anymore AND he doesn’t want to throw them away. I’d love to use the toy bins for things he actually plays with now.They’re just clutter at this point. Any advice? I’m itching to donate these. Signed: Mental in Manhattan.
Dear Mental: It’s incredibly tough dealing with other people’s things when they’re cluttering up your life. Many parents often think of kids belongings as not entirely “theirs”. Therefore, donate them without asking and deal with the consequences later. Yet kids see their possessions entirely as “theirs”. Therefore, getting rid of things without asking is kinda rude. Your boy may be little but this is his home as well. Your job is to teach him how to let go of things in a way that works for him, not necessarily you. It sounds like he’s the type of person that might need time to let go of things.
We see two options. First option is to have a logical discussion about how long he wants to keep these unused trains on hand. Touch on what clutter is and why it’s nice to not have it around. Suggest a generous time limit like keeping them on hand for 6 months or one year. Second option is if his answer is illogical in anyway then a few weeks from now, under the cover of darkness, box them up and store them out of sight somewhere for 6 months to a year. It’s the magical Pixie Later Box. Before donating them, have the conversation again about the boxed up trains and whether he’s ready to give them to another little boy or girl.
Finally, in Option #2, if he inquires about the train during the 6 month waiting period, tell him they’re boxed up and you can get them out whenever he wants to play with them. Often, kids (and adults) just like knowing they’re around for awhile before they let go, like a long good-bye. Hope that helps! All our best: Katie & Kelly