Yes, I know I said I was only going to do three parts on clutter, but in talking with a friend, she brought up one more aspect that our inability to contain our clutter impacts. That is, our tendency to live with a mind-set of scarcity while surrounded with abundance. What are we tacitly teaching our children about what our relationship to stuff should be? Is there ever enough?
Most children are natural hoarders. At least in my experience they are. It starts with the toddler yelling, "Mine!" and moves onto the preschooler and grade school student who keep every single scrap of paper they come across. They tend to fixate on what they don't have which causes them to hold tightly to what they do. Many adults are really not much different. Yet, in reality, we have so much. Too much. It's why we have a clutter problem to begin with.
We need to tame our relationship with our clutter and stuff in order to help our children develop a right relationship with stuff. We need to start seeing our abundance that is around us and realize that we really do have enough. It's good for a child to watch you process through the stuff. More than once I've gone through drawers and closets and sorted out the excess that we don't need and pass it along to someone else. I've also had conversations with my children about why we weren't keeping something. I've had it enough to begin to hear the thinking repeated as my children sort through their belongings.
Children sense the attitudes in the home. They can tell when a parent is anxious about things, and possibly they know this better then the adults themselves. Children know intuitively when a parent is worried about having enough. They may not be able to voice the worry in words, but it will show in their actions. Even if the parent never said a word about their fears, the children will soak them in. What a gift to a child when a parent can help them focus on the abundance around them instead of what is lacking.
And we do have a lot. Most of us have a place to live with clean, running water and indoor plumbing. Refrigerators and stoves and ovens. Clothes to wear and food to eat. None of these things may be the latest style or the most expensive, but the fact that we have them puts us in the incredibly well-off category. Sure we could always look at the people in the tax bracket above us and ponder what we don't have. But would those things really make us any more happy than we are now? Really? Do we want our children to think that their happiness is dependent upon having stuff?
So let your children see you living out the abundance in your life and the fact that we can be content with enough. Go ahead and share what you have with others. Go ahead and say no to something someone offers you if you really do already have enough. And really think about whether what you suffering from is having too much rather than not enough. Do you want to be the living version of Jacob Marley, except that instead of cash boxes wrapped around you, you have the piles and bags and shelves and closets of unused and unneeded stuff weighing you down?
Be careful of what you are quietly saying to your children... and yourself.
Clutter, part 1; Clutter, part 2; Clutter, part 3