When I started decluttering, I started with my stuff. Then my wife joined in and we did some of her stuff and some common/shared stuff. My daughter participated in all of our decluttering and we slowly brought her stuff into the mix. This all started when she was four years old. One of the areas that was tough initially was her stuffed animal collection. She was very attached to her stuffed animals, yet she had way more than she needed.
With kids items, I am very much against decluttering behind their backs. I feel like doing that could lead to an overcompensation (buying and keeping stuff) when they are on their own someday. I much prefer to include them in the process. This benefits them in a few ways. They learn that they control their environment. They learn how to let go. They learn how to declutter. They learn that when they have less, there is more room to play, and they can play with their favorites more often.
My daughter is eight years old now, and she has gotten really good at decluttering. She’s still working on the other half of that, which is not wanting so much in the first place, but we’re slowing progressing on that front too.
In this video we’ll talk about decluttering a stuffed animal collection. You can apply the principles of this declutter to any collection.
One thing I mention in the video, but I want to draw your attention to, is that the first time we decluttered stuffed animals she only got rid of two. That was ok. Even if it’s only one the first time, or none even. Repeat the process in a week or two and try for more. Explain where the toys go when they are donated and imagine what kind of kids might get those toys. Coach them along and repeat the process from time to time and it gets easier.
(If you reading this in an email or rss reader and don’t see the video below, you can click through to the blog to view it.)
Transcript of video:
Hi, Welcome to Rethinking the Dream. I’m Eric West and this is Josie West. Today we are going to do some kids room decluttering. Specifically we are going to do stuffed animals.
When we first started decluttering stuffed animals, a long time ago, probably three or four years ago, she had a very large collection of stuffed animals. It was bigger than this. She had a big huge storage chest and it was overflowing.
It was very hard for her at first to get rid of stuffed animals. She was very attached to all of them. She loved snuggling, holding, and playing with them. The first time we decluttered them we got rid of two stuffed animals. That was ok for a first try.
We repeated the decluttering from time to time. Every once in a while we’d go through the pile of stuffed animals again.
It helped that she knew the stuffed animals would be donated and go to another child. It may go to a child that doesn’t have any, or that wants some new ones.
It’s a process. The first time it was hard for her to let go. For each animal she was ready to donate, she would give it a little hug and close her eyes, and be in the moment saying a silent goodbye to her animals. She came up with that on her own to let go of the things she no longer needed.
Fast forward a few years now, she still tends to collect these things. She wins them in the crane game, grandma buys them, and sometimes we buy some new ones too. She likes to have her stuffed animals, and now she’s gotten comfortable with rotating through the collections.
Today we are going through them to decide what to keep. This storage box is something her grandma gave us. I’d almost rather not have this box, but since it was a gift and we can make use of it, we are keeping it for now. We used to keep them in a drawer under her bed and I think that was a better place as it was more hidden when not in use and didn’t take up any floor space.
Let’s go through these. We have a couple bags here, a donate bag and a trash bag. We’re going to go through these now.
Basically picking her favorites to keep.
You can see it’s going pretty fast now. It wasn’t like this in the past. It used to be a slow process, but after doing this several times in the past she’s able to make decisions more quickly on what to keep and what to get rid of.
She’s really cooking here. We’re going to have a lot to donate, hopefully some other kids will make good use of these.
When we first started this I would hold each animal up and let her decide, rather than having her hold them as she decides. Holding them increases the connection, and makes it harder to let go of. So if I hold them it becomes a little easier. This is especially true with things like stuffed animals.
You’re getting rid of the Owl?
Ok, you sure?
I asked because the owl was a favorite of hers, and I had sewed it back together when the head started falling off.
Let’s dump this out now. Here’s one of the problems with having a box that we can throw everything in. That stuff does not belong in here with the stuffed animals. There are some clothes that missed her hamper and some other toys.
We’ll need to go through those items also, but we’ll do that later after the video.
Ok, put all the keepers back in the box.
While she’s putting those back, you can see that we have a whole bag full of stuffed animals to donate. She’s down to her favorites. It’s a lot of favorites, but it’s better than it was. We do this every once in a while whenever her collection starts to grow and she enjoys it almost as much as she enjoys getting new ones.
Quick and painless. It wasn’t always like that. She was very attached to stuffed animals, but with some practice she has learned to let go. As you practice this with them it becomes easier. If you are going through this for the first time do not expect it to be this easy, it won’t be.
Repeat this once in a while, work with them, be open and honest, tell them where the animals will go, and it gets easier. Include your kids when you do your own decluttering so they see what you are doing. Set the example. The kids will learn from your example and will often get excited and want to declutter their own stuff. My daughter is learning that having less stuff makes it easier to keep it clean, and a clean room has more room for playing.
That’s it for today. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time.
I want to repeat here, that this decluttering was after four years of practice. It’s a good example of what you can do if you work with your kids and repeat the process so they get accustomed to decluttering. Also, she always has my help when she declutters. It’s really difficult for kids to do this on their own. She is just now, at eight years old and after four years of practice, starting to do some small amount of decluttering on her own. She decluttered her bathroom by herself the other day, although she did call me in to hold the trash bag.