8 tips for decluttering your children’s childhood

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Reading-Bedtime-Stories-To-Your-BabyIn today’s world, it’s easy to get sidetracked and tempted by the unimportant. Consumerism is big business and every company on the planet wants your business. The hunger to rise up through the ranks for a bigger salary or higher status is insatiable. We strive to be everything to everyone and suffer guilt if we say no. Keeping up with the Joneses is a full-time job and acquiring the newest and best toys and technology is irresistible.

More is better!         

Or is it?

I’ve spent the past five years decluttering every aspect of my life and sharing my message of hope and happiness. You, too, can learn to declutter all the extras in your life and pass those lessons on to your children.

Today I’m sharing my eight best tips for loving your little ones well by creating a clutter-free childhood.

1. Fire your child. Your baby shouldn’t be born with a job to do. Babies don’t fix marriages or personal problems, so declutter the notion that having a baby will make it all better. If there is work to be done, you and your spouse must commit to seeking help and taking care of business without leaning on your baby for support or putting them in the middle. They should get the very best you have to offer, and it’s your job to make that happen.  

2. Kick competition to the curb. It doesn’t matter whose baby giggles, rolls over or says mama first. A competitive or jealous spirit will only breed discontentment. Declutter any desire to participate in this arena and simply celebrate your precious baby for exactly who they are.

3. Take it Slow. Put the brakes on and slow down. Declutter the hustle and bustle of the rush, and instead relish in every moment with your little one. Get on the floor and spend time on their level. Make outings to the store relaxed field trips. Remember, your toddler’s little legs are much smaller than yours and dawdling is naturally a 2-year-old activity. Join them where they are, and embrace a leisurely journey. As your kids get older, resist the urge to allow overcommitted schedules. It can be hard to say no to extracurricular school activities or fun events, but too much of a good thing isn’t so good. Help your child develop a culture of balance and thoughtful, healthy choices.    

4. Chat it up. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been with my sons and grandchildren. Conversation and communication are so important, even at a very young age. Declutter the impulse to brush off their words or ignore monotonous babble and engage in dialogue every chance you get.

5. Toys are not tops. It doesn’t take long to realize that raising kids is an expensive venture. Parents go broke and wind up deeply in debt over spoiling their kids with alleged must-have toys. Declutter the misnomer that stuff will make your child happy, and instead instill a sense of imagination and inspiration by promoting creative play. I once give my youngest, who was 2 at the time, a bowl of water, ice cubes and a ladle. He was happy for hours, as long as I refilled the ice cubes. Cardboard boxes and blanket tent forts are the bomb, and craft time is always a hit. It doesn’t have to be bright, shiny and new to be fun. There’s a lot to be said for the freedom to color outside the lines.

6. Guard your words. Both the manner in which you say something and the words chosen will make an indelible mark on your children. Declutter any inclination towards abrasiveness, criticism and insensitivity. Strive to make interactions with your little one full of encouragement and praise. Positive, constructive words delivered with love can make the difference between a defensive and icy reception, and a child who respects and values the wisdom you have to impart – even if they don’t immediately admit it. Trust me, the payoff comes!

7. Paying attention means really paying attention. In this amped up age of technology, it’s easier than ever to be sidetracked. Declutter distractions that diminish your ability to be fully present for your children. Of course it’s appropriate, and even advisable, for them to have independent play time, and if you are talking with a friend, interruptions are unacceptable. In general, though, when you are in the company of your kiddos, afford them the courtesy and benefit of your undivided attention.

8. Equip and enable your children. Sometimes it just seems easier to do it yourself, but that’s rarely the right choice where your child’s responsibilities are concerned. Declutter disabling your kids by practicing tough love. Don’t be afraid to hand out fair consequences or enforce punishments. Don’t let them slip. “No” today should be “no” tomorrow and “no” the next day. Teach your kids they can count on you to be consistent and love them enough to prove it.

Whether your babies are just an exciting thought or are already here, NOW is the perfect time to start. Set them up for a life of purpose, contentment, confidence and joy by modeling and teaching clutter-free living.  Give your children the gift that keeps on giving; love them, equip them and, by all means, keep them decluttered! 

Sherry Gareis has co-authored several Declutter Now! books with her husband, Lindon Gareis. They are Christian life coaches who live and love in sunny Peoria, Ariz. Find out more at www.actionplanministries.com.

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