The Emotional Hostage

Over the last 3 years I have really started to crack down on the amount of toys we'd accumulated in this household. At the time we had 3 kids 7 and under and the toys were everywhere! I was able to come home from working fulltime outside of the house at that point and it sunk in just how bad it had gotten. I would say at this point it was an idea still and not really a serious pursuit.

Then fast forward a year or so after that when I opened my booth in a flea market with projects -- I accumulated a ton of projects, furniture and otherwise and since I have no garage most of it was stored in our downstairs (which used to be the play room) after the car port in our back yard was filled with the pieces I didn't care as much about.

It. Was. A. Mess. And I'm not even joking. At certain points I'm fairly certain I could have been called a hoarder. In fact, I'm fairly certain emotionally I would have fit that bill perfectly. I felt connected to it all -- the outside was reflecting my inner turmoil. I was lonely and felt purposeless.
So each one of those pieces was a chance to make something beautiful again, which is a passion of mine.

It's been a journey, but I can honestly say that downsizing toys has been the hardest thing for me.

In three years of regular and purposeful downsizing and minimizing, selling things off and giving things away to thrift stores, I'm still struggling with it. I have a cleaning group specifically for homeschoolers on Facebook that has been helpful in immortalizing my house of filth in photographs, no judgement there! And so I've been able to look back and I can say without a doubt that every single photo I take and have taken has at least 1 toy in it, it doesn't matter what room it is.

Why are toys so hard for me?! Firstly, because I love toys. Secondly, I feel so guilty when I get rid of them! Even if my children haven't played with them in months, even if they aren't even toys they've ever really cared about, I still feel guilty. Mom guilt is no joke. Thirdly, my kids do play with most of them and love them. Fourthly, (Is that even a word? Probably not) because they hold memories and hopes and dreams and expectations for my relationship with my kids.

When we buy toys for our kids we imagine the fun we'll have with them, watching them play and also playing with them. I've found that we never live up to that, there's always that expectation that it will happen even if it hasn't happened yet. So it's really hard to let go of that.

Then there's the guilt of the gifted toy, the one that your mom got your kids or a friend, or even a random gift for no reason... you feel like you have to hold onto it because you want to avoid hurting their feelings even if your child doesn't even like it, or it doesn't uphold the standards you have for your household.

How about getting rid of toys that seriously drive you batty? The ones that have batteries and make tons of noise, flashing lights, and do all the imagination work for your child? The ones that you're trying to rid your house of, but they keep finding their way back into your toy chest. You know the ones I'm talking about.

It feels like the world is pushing stuff at us in every direction whether it be with good intentions or not, it's harmful. It can suffocate you if you don't become proactive and that is where I was at 3 years ago.

So, now I need to share with you how I am combating this to get my house to be that place of peace and enjoyment for the whole family.

1. Let go of those expectations. Honestly, you have to choose to do it actively every single day. Stop thinking or dreaming about that Mom or Dad you want to be for your children and just choose to be it. If you get rid of those toys that are hanging around it may actually be easier.

2. Forgive yourself for wasting the money, wasting your time cleaning it up over and over again, and allow yourself to move on. If you have to verbally say it out loud -- like Kon Mari suggests, totally do it. THANK YOU, goodbye! It has served it's purpose and now it can find a new home where it might be loved and needed.

3. Put it in a trash bag. Out of sight, out of mind. Pack it away, or quickly put it in your trunk and let it sit. Don't even look at it for the next 24-48 hours. Or, if you're brave enough, quickly drop it off at the thrift store. The quicker you get it gone, the easier it will be. If you hang onto it or if it sits around in sight, the kids will get into it or you will give into the guilt.

4. Go find inspiration to fuel you. I am a huge advocate for accountability as well, if you can do it with a partner who can push you to step outside of your comfort zone and keep moving then that is IDEAL. But many of us SAHM's do not have that community, so I encourage you to find a YouTube channel with cleaning/decluttering/minimalism (even if you don't want to go that extreme) and load up on the visual inspiration. Let yourself find a community, even if it's kind of fake. I do this almost daily now and it has helped me so much to retrain my mind to what is "normal". I have come accustomed to the look of a clean home, because that's what I'm looking at. That's what I desire.

I hope these tips are helpful to you if you're struggling with this situation like I am!

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