It’s that time. Mommy and Daddy are heading home from the hospital with their little one to begin a new, glorious life together as a family.
Dreams are big and plans are many.
The nursery is decorated, diapers are on standby, and the latest and greatest video monitor is plugged in and ready to go – assuming you’ll even let your baby out of your sight. You’ve got everything laid out, planned out, and figured out. And if not, well, love conquers all, and there’s enough love going on right now to assure victory in any battle.
God is good and life is sweet.
But reality doesn’t always mirror aspirations and success isn’t often achieved through happenstance.
You are going to have to prepare your family and equip your precious bundle of heaven with useful life skills and tools necessary for the path ahead.
That may be hard to envision right now. Thinking ahead to the toddler and adolescent years, never mind the faraway teenage trials, is the furthest thing from your mind. You’re likely more consumed with round the clock feedings, removing the yellow spit up stains from cutie-pie’s outfits, and squeezing in a few moments of shuteye, yet here I am sounding more like a General preparing her troops for battle.
For now, you’d rather just stay floating on your cloud of sheer contentment.
I get it. I really do. And I want you to enjoy every second of that experience.
But you can’t deny hearing your friends lament about how fast kids grow up, and while you may not have personally experienced it yet, the anticipation of sending your baby off to kindergarten in a few short years produces a gargantuan-sized lump in your throat.
The point? The days pass all too quickly and you’ve got to start laying out the foundation for your children’s future now.
And this involves more than just teaching ‘please and thank you’, encouraging accurate aim at the center of the toilet, and coaching how to graciously eat horrible tasting food when staying the night at a friend’s house.
Much, much more.
You must teach them to declutter.
Actually, teaching your kids to resist clutter in the first place is the best lesson of all!
But in today’s world, this is no small task. It’s easy to get sidetracked and tempted by the unimportant. Consumerism is big business and every company on the planet is making it Job One to get your business. The hunger to rise up through the ranks for top dog salary or status is insatiable. We strive to be everything to everyone and suffer guilt overwhelming if we attempt to say ‘No’. Keeping up with the Joneses, or the Kardashians, is a full time job, and acquiring the newest and bestest toys and technology is irresistible.
More is better!
Or is it?
I’m here to tell you it’s not. Not by a longshot.
I used to be a crazy woman, going Mach 10 in all directions, and squeezing every second possible out of each day. When my kids were younger, I rushed them around. Into adulthood, I bossed my sisters around. And in an attempt to keep up with life, I ran around. Everywhere. Shopping, sports practices, band concerts, Student Council events, Boy Scout meetings, playdates, doctor appointments, luncheons, workouts, coffee dates, etc. It was nonstop Go, Go, Go!
In addition to my spastic pace, I stockpiled stuff for ‘security’, worked into all hours of the night, made decisions out of fear, and acted out of obligation.
I thought I was Supermom, but instead, I was just Super Tired.
Ironically, I was happy. Really happy. In the midst of the chaos, my heart was overflowing with joy. But ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’, and I didn’t know what I was missing.
And I was missing a lot.
Things have changed. After meeting and marrying the love of my life, I figured it out. Choices. Freedom. Wiggle Room. Guilt Free Living. Inner Peace. Abundant Joy. I’d been losing out on so much. Now I know.
I’ve spent the past five years decluttering every aspect of my life and sharing my message of hope and happiness.
For the young parents reading, I offer you knowledge and wisdom from my experiences…and from my mistakes. Give your kids the gift that keeps on giving and teach them to declutter from the get-go. Just like wearing a seatbelt, the non-negotiables easily become the norm when they are taught from the beginning. So teach away!
Today I’m sharing my 8 best tips for loving your little ones well by creating a clutter-free childhood:
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.
Kick Competition To the Curb – It doesn’t matter whose baby giggles, rolls over, or says ‘Momma” 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.
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 two 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 ain’t so good. Help your child develop a culture of balance and thoughtful, healthy choices.
Chat it Up – Some of the best conversations I’ve had in my life have been with my sons and grandchildren. Conversation and communication is 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.
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 ‘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. Give my youngest a bowl of water, ice cubes, and a ladle at two years of age and he was happy for hours, as long as I refilled the ice cubes of course! Cardboard boxes and blanket tent forts were the bomb, and craft time was 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.
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!
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.
Equip and Enable – 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 em’ decluttered!