meditations on accumulation yard sale edition

September 1st, 2007

Meditations on Accumulation – Yard Sale Edition

In two weeks we are having another yard sale, and because of that I have been more focused than usual on purging “stuff”. I really have been trying to look critically at our possessions in the recent past and decide what stuff we need vs what stuff is really just taking up space and weighing us down. I’ve gone through closets, rooms, collections, and I have done a passable job of weeding out and selling off or donating in most areas. The one area, surprisingly (to me) that I am having major issues being able to let go is one that is not even mine exactly, and I have the least sentimental value invested – my children’s toys.

The reason I am having trouble with this is not that they have so few toys that I can’t bear to reduce them. On the contrary, they have way too many toys. They are the first grandchildren on both sides and as such, they have been inundated with gifts from very doting and generous grandparents. I have also managed to bring home way too many incidental items from my garage sale explorations. I want to reduce the number of toys they have. The problem is… I can’t decide what to purge. It seems any time I settle on a particular toy or set of toys, my son starts playing with those toys that very same day and then I don’t want to eliminate them because he still uses them.

My spouse boxed up about 15 toys and put them in the garage in an effort to get rid of a few. Truth be told, I can barely remember what is in the box never mind worry about if the kids still want to use them. This shows me we should get rid of a bunch of these toys. But I just can’t seem to do it. And if you think my spouse would be better at it, it was hard for him to fill just that one box of toys, so he’s not really that much further detached than I am.

Even if we don’t sell the toys at the yard sale and donate them instead, I still want to get rid of a huge percentage of them. In this case, the purging isn’t just about increasing inflow to pay down debt, it is also about accumulation. There are just Too. Many. Toys.

I wish it was easier for me to purge them. Why is it easier for me to purge my own stuff? I had no problem donating half my closet to goodwill. But I can’t seem to get rid of one or two of 50 trucks or books or blocks or noisy annoying electronic gadgets or stuffed animals or play kitchen accessories.

Stuff. Ugh.

I need to teach my children that less is more and I am not doing a very good job of that thus far.

~J

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14 Responses to “Meditations on Accumulation – Yard Sale Edition”

  1. It’s always hard when you have the first grandchildren. My husband and I have the only grandchildren on both sides of the family, and if we never bought another toy, my kids would still have too many.

    It’s hard to get rid of children’s toys, because we get attached to the memories associated with the toys. I think I’m finally over that though. :)

    The best advice I can give you is to go through the toys when your kids aren’t around. It’s much easier that way.

  2. I think I am attached to a few toys because of the memories, but I am over that for the most part too.

    I get attached to the inherent “usefulness” of something. If we can still use it, why purge it? I am really REALLY trying to get to the point where my brain understands we do not need to have anything and everything one of my kids might possibly find useful, and we have waaaaay too many of the same type of toys that “teach” the same types of things and we don’t need them all. Heh.

    My brain…. slow. Still won’t accept this idea fully.

  3. Yes, Yes! I am in the same boat as you. I am going through my kids items for a consignment sale in two weeks. Just as I am thinking of pulling a toy out – they start to play with it. There is a bit of guilt that I will be denying them the pleasure of playing with it. Silly! Most of the time, they have outgrown the toy or I need to be rotating the toys that are “really good” so they have a new interest.

    We also have the only 1st grandchildren. I cringe at having that conversation with a gift giver, when I would have to tell them we “let it go”. I doesn’t mean I don’t value their thoughtfulness to our children. :( :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. @Lisa I hate that guilt! And my spouse is just as bad. Today I was suggesting a few things and he was very resistant. lol

    We’ll figure it out, all of us :)

  5. I went up into the attic last week to get some boxes to store some books I have for sale. As I looked around the attic, I was amazed/appalled at the amount of toys my children have outgrown that we just put up there “for our grandchildren to play with”! I’m only 40 and my kids are still under 10!!!

    I just told me dh that I’m selling it all at a garage sale in the very near future. Why keep it? They don’t want it, they’ve forgotten about it, and I don’t care about it either since it’s up in the attic.

    Repeat after me: It’s just stuff

    Ok, I know it’s your kids’ stuff, but just stuff after all.

  6. @Paula: I hope your yard sale reaps great rewards! It is just stuff. Oh… the stuff. I’m trying lol.

  7. I’m not sure how old your children are,but recently I’ve been letting my kids (mostly the 9 year old and 5 year old, and some with the three year old) pick out the toys they want to sell or give away. They pick five at a time every so often. It has worked out well.

  8. I have a three year old (who some days will “throw away” every single toy he has and the next wants to keep paper scraps) and a 10 month old. Not so good at picking things yet but I totally look forward to the day they are! thanks!!

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