You know when you wake up in the morning, and you realize that you are actually drowning in clutter, that your entire household is one big clutter pile; this despite the fact that all the clutter is contained in cute little baskets, because now instead of being drowning in clutter, you are drowning in baskets that are filled with clutter, and you just can’t stand it one more minute? That is how it was with me yesterday. As far as I can tell, there are only two options at this juncture: a) buy a bigger house and fill it with even more clutter, or b) stay in the existing house and get rid of the clutter. I guess there is also a third option, c) maintain the status quo, but yesterday, that seemed like a death sentence. Death by clutter, I guess.

And so, armed with a pot of coffee I decided to attack our house. I went through those cluttered baskets and made three piles: donate, recycle, and garbage. Here is the sad part: the garbage pile was the largest of all. The thing is, we don’t buy our children many toys, but they seem to have a lot of toys from birthdays, Christmas, indulgent grandparents. Some of them last a long time, but a lot break easily and are not recyclable. This is what I was dealing with yesterday: a giant garbage bag full of broken plastic toys that are destined for a landfill.

It makes me sick. You know what else makes me sick? The article I read the other day about a six-year-old girl’s birthday party and the myriad of gifts that she received. The author – a fairly famous author – detailed the FORTY expensive gifts she had received and expensive loot bags that were given out at her party. In the end, the author weighed in that there was a possibility that kids receiving so much stuff could become spoiled and unappreciative, but hey, what’s a birthday without a ton of presents?

It’s not like I want my kids to be all Little House on the Prairie, being ecstatic that they received a pair of mittens and their very own tin cup in their stocking, so now they don’t have to share a cup between two people anymore, how amazing, and also, a stick of candy! WOW! But I do want them to appreciate the things that they have and although they certainly get nowhere near forty gifts on any occasion, they do have a lot of toys. With Christmas coming up we are talking a lot about charity, about giving, but still I worry about them being spoiled and unappreciative. I especially worried about that today, Mark’s balloon that he was blowing up burst, and he fell into a fit of sulking because we had no more balloons in the house, and why didn’t we have more balloons, and HE REALLY WANTED A BALLOON. The house is filled with games, books, puzzles, toys, but HIS LIFE WAS OVER BECAUSE WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY BALLOONS. I really struggle with this kind of thing, with instilling appreciation and values, and sometimes it just feels like I’m not doing it right.

Besides the fact that our household just contributed a giant bag of plastic crap to the local landfill. It makes me sick.


  1. What a great blog post and very timely. We seem to buy too much for our son, it’s the “sure you can get it” kind of spoiling, when we are in the store and just want to leave. But I am starting to feel like he is always getting a new toy and now our house is overrun with all of these Spiderman’s and Transformer’s.

  2. I think we’re all facing the same issue… you want to be able to give your kids things to make them happy, but then they just seem to expect more. We’ve been talking about charity and people who have nothing, but it isn’t really sinking in yet – all my oldest is talking about these days is his upcoming 6th birthday and Christmas. I’m looking for ideas of charitable things to do (besides giving away his toys and donating) that will help my boys realize just how lucky they really are. If you have any thoughts, let me know.

  3. It’s so hard, isn’t it? We’re trying to make our little house more spacious by clearing it out, too. *sigh*

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