Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Part I Reduce

One of our favorite video characters is Bob the Builder. Sunflower Valley (where Bob works) is very big on being Green. We do what we can and often don't do as much as we could around here. Forming the habit is the hardest part. Sunflower Valley's Mission is to "reduce, reuse, and recycle." So today was an exercise in Reduction.

My oldest and I embarked on a clean up mission. We went through his closet, his toy box, his floor, and the playroom with two boxes. We had a cardboard box and a red plastic box. If he wanted to keep something it went into the red box to take up to the playroom. If he didn't want it anymore, it went into the cardboard box to give to another kid who might want a toy.

I took a page out of one of my former supervisor's books. She and her daughter do this clean up activity every year around her birthday. She lets her daughter decide what to keep and what to throw away and honors her child's choices even if she herself disagrees. So I let my son tell me what to keep and what to throw away. We actually filled the cardboard box until it overflowed with stuff he doesn't want anymore.

My only twist to this exercise is that I'm putting the box out of sight for a month before I get rid of it. My son's sense of time is very limited. I'm not always sure he understands what forever means. So just in case he asks for something he threw away, I'm hanging on to the box for a few weeks. If he hasn't asked for it by then, I'm taking the whole kit and caboodle to the Goodwill.

I also got this hang-on-to-it-for-a-bit idea from a parenting magazine. One mom wrote in that she periodically takes things away while the kids are sleeping and if they don't ask for it after a month or two, she throws it out. I prefer to let my son choose what to throw out, but I think holding on to it to make sure he doesn't ask for it anymore also makes sense, particularly at his age.

It felt good to clean things up. My children have far too much stuff. The stuff is a result of multiple errors of generous hearts at birthdays, Christmases, Easters, and trips, but it's too much regardless. I realize it is easy to give and be generous when you have more than you need. But at four, he isn't ready for more than that. We will get to those lessons later on.

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