About six months ago, I started purging our belongings. No one was immune, and I purged everything from clothes to shoes to toys and hair products. Pinterest had convinced me that the secret to limitless joy was limiting our belongings. At a certain level, I completely agree with that perspective. Material things are just things - they're not the most important things in life. Having fewer things will create space and time for us to focus on what does matter, right? That's what I told myself when I trimmed down my son's summer wardrobe to seven shirts and seven shorts.
Nothing was safe - even my son's toys. I gave away lots of the toys that he was no longer interested in. Anything that was worse for wear got tossed. But I didn't stop there! I also divided his toys into tenths and keep nine-tenths of them stored outside of Shep's room. That way, I only have to deal with tidying up a select few of his toys. It keeps me sane and it makes cleaning up a bit more manageable for my toddler all on his own.
But now, instead of limiting his reliance on his toys, it's just led Shep to start turning our household objects into toys. Pots and pans? Drums. Cabinet doors? Monkey bars! The refrigerator has become his new toy chest - except I really hate finding yogurt under the couch and I don't mind finding stuffed animals hiding there.
I hid his toys from him. But did I also steal away his joy? Did I make his childhood less playful, less fanciful, less carefree? Am I going to sanitize the happiness right out of his memories?
Shep has this habit of wanting his hands to be clean. He sees something on the ground, say a piece of paper, and he says, "Icky! Mess!" Now, he'll happily dig his fingers into a bowl of cottage cheese. But once he's done playing with the cottage cheese, he starts urgently asking for a wipe. Every time he does this, I get a little twinge of worry. Have I passed my anxiety on to him? Is he going to have an OCD episode as a child, like I did? When did I give him the impression that being messy wasn't okay?
It's hard to tell if this is standard-fare mom guilt, or something I really need to be worried about. Am I giving my kid a complex about mess? It's not like I'm constantly cleaning. I mean, that was the point of all this minimalism! To make sure I don't spend all my time picking up tons of stuff, so I could model a lifestyle that's more relaxed. I'm beginning to wonder if kids need the chaos, the overabundance of "stuff", to feel fulfilled.
My mama bear gut tells me no. No, my kid isn't going to take after me with anxious ways. Well, at least not because I limit how many toys he can have out at once. Having less "stuff" will help my toddler the same way it helps adults - by letting him focus on people and his relationships to them, instead of things. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.
Are you a minimalist mom? Why did you pare down your belongings? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.