I’d like to start off by saying, I LOVE MY FAMILY. I love my girls and everything about being their mom but sometimes I am a mean mom. I am not always my girls friend because I have to be the parent and sometimes that isn’t always fun.
A while ago I read the book THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Gary Chapman and it was great. It really showed me a lot about myself and helped me to understand my husband better, but that’s a topic for another day. I am a giver. I show my love multiple ways but I find that the primary way I show love is by giving gifts and acts of service. That said I have shown my girls love by buying them things.
Almost every time we’ve gone to the store I get them something, a cheap toy or candy, something because I want them to know how loved they are by me. The problem is I’ve spent all my time giving them things and trying to have a good time that they have never learned to take care of those things.
It has been a constant battle to get them to not only clean their room but to keep it clean and at the end of the day, that’s my fault. They have been so overwhelmed with toys and books and clothes that every time they do anything it is like an avalanche of stuff. No matter how many times I’ve gone in and helped them clean and organize they have, or I should say had, too much stuff to keep in order.
Last night I was done. I was done fighting over clothes that found the floor before ever getting worn. I was done with their beds piled so high with toys they wouldn’t go to sleep at night and I was done with not being able to walk in their room since the floor was covered in toys.
I swept everything out of their room, EVERYTHING.
I took all the clothes out of the closet that they don’t need for the summer, their coats and sweaters. I left 3 dresses for each girl, 5 tee shirts and 3 tank tops. In their dresser they got 7 pairs of underwear, 3 pajamas and 7 bottoms (shorts and skirts).
I took ALL the toys. Every single toy that was in their bedroom was gone. I made them empty their beds, they got a blanket and a pillow and that was it.
In the past I’ve given them away or donated or thrown them out, but that wasn’t fair to anyone. I can’t afford to rebuy toys all the time so I bagged them all up and put them in the garage at my mom’s. As the girls learn to take care of their things they will have a chance to earn back their toys.
Now I would agree that it was extreme if this was not a recurring problem. At the time there were plenty of tears as I cleaned their room. When I had everything out of the room I assured them both that I loved them and they got their hugs and kisses and went to bed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect today. My girls don’t watch a lot of television because I find when they watch it more they tend to have bad attitudes so their screen time is super limited to the point where most days they don’t watch any.
What were they going to do all day?
L had toys in her room and there were 2 baskets in the living room with some more of L’s toys. I told M she could play with them but there weren’t any toys allowed in her bedroom.
You know what didn’t happen? There wasn’t fighting like usual.
Normally my girls fight over the same toy and now there were less toys, significantly less, and there weren’t the same fights. Normally by noon my house looks like a toy store blew up in my living room, and yet my house still looked like a house! M and L played nicely with the dolls that were in the living room, they ran and played outside like usual and they were happy.
When I picked up K from school I was sure there would be an attitude about how she wanted her toys back. Empty promises that she would clean up her room and take care of them.
She walked into her room, turned to me with the biggest smile on her face and said, “my room is still clean!” She ran and gave me a hug then went to play outside with her sisters.
Bedtime tonight was easy. They all happily cleaned up the few toys in the living room. I let them each take one of their stuffed animals back to keep in their beds and that was it. No fighting and yelling. They didn’t stay up for two hours after I put them to sleep playing in their beds.
K and M hugged their toys and obediently went to sleep.
I have felt for so long that we had too much stuff. It was overwhelming to me so I can just imagine how they were feeling. I didn’t want to take it away because I was so sure it would be too hard for them.
Ends up, they don’t care. They don’t care about the hangers full of clothes that they never wore and all those clothes in their drawers ended up on the floor because they were digging for the only thing they ever wore anyway.
My girls are happy just being kids. They played in the sprinkler in the back yard and then came inside to a clean house and an unstressed mommy.
Before I would be urging them to clean and reprimanding them for not taking care of stuff. I would yell about toys they didn’t put away and clothes that I washed five times that they never wore.
Tonight we all played outside together. We read night time stories and ate snacks. As K got into bed she said to me, “thank you mommy.”
I had to ask why.
She told me that it was so nice having a clean room and just having fun with me. I asked her if she was sad that I took all the stuff away yesterday and she told me that she didn’t miss it at all. She said she didn’t need all the toys because today she had fun.
Parents today are so overwhelmed with EVERYONE telling them that if they love their kids they’ll get them all the latest toys, and I bought into that for a long time. We all want to give our kids the world. We don’t want them to not have all the things everyone else has.
So yes, I was mean, I took away their toys but I gave them back me. I gave them back a childhood filled with imagination and creativity. I gave them their time back to enjoy just being a kid. I am sure they’ll get some toys back but we aren’t going to ever have so many that they can’t take care of them again!