When it comes to kids and their clutter, mine in particular, I have found that being on the offense (as opposed to defense) makes a world of difference. Once you figure out how to eliminate a majority of the clutter (the defense), you must change your game plan and think offensively.
One of the biggest ways I do this is through the celebration of birthdays. When our first child turned one, we did not throw a big party and invite all the family and friends within a 20 mile radius. (gasp) I determined early on as a parent that I was not going to set a precedent of "birthday party entitlement" for my children. When kids are 1, their birthday is the same as any other day. So why do we, as parents, create this big to do, which eventually turns into an obligation in years to come? Give the kid a piece of cake and love on them a little more!
How do we celebrate birthdays in our house?
Well, we talk about the upcoming birthday quite a bit and start planning for the big day at least a week in advance. We don't live within a 20 mile radius of family, so more often than not it's just the 4 of us celebrating. Some of the things we talk about and plan include how the cake will be decorated, the menu for the day and the overall plan for the day.
The birthday girl wakes up to streamers and balloons decorating her doorway and our dining area. In the past, the days' activities have included a trip to the zoo, children's museum and/or a family hike. Usually one meal is eaten in a restaurant (birthday girl's choice - within reason) and we return home for cake (which the birthday girl has decorated herself).
One year, when our oldest was 4, we focused on the number 4 as much as possible. We decorated with four different colors of streamers and balloons. We ate spaghetti and each person got four meatballs, and we made breadsticks in the shape of 4.
It's simple. It's child and memory focused - not gift focused. Most importantly, our girls love it.
So back to my original thought...get in a position where you can play offensively. Stop attending over the top birthday parties for little ones. Stop throwing over the top birthday parties for little ones. The only reason our children expect such things is because we have created the opportunity for them.
How do you play offensively when it comes to kids and their clutter? I would love to hear your ideas.