Sunday, April 4, 2010

Paring Down

We need to do this at Chez GEW. We need to pare down.

This is not a new realization, but every once in awhile, I realize that our failures to keep things simple are having negative effects on our children. Today, several things have brought the issue to the forefront.

As I have said in the past, I allow my children to bring bugs and small creatures into the house. I think that allowing them to do this helps build their connection to nature. However, what with spring being sprung, there is a plethora of life out there right now--caterpillars, tadpoles, salamanders, pill bugs, etc.--and too many of them are finding their way into our house. And it's not just that I am running low on kitchen counter space. No, the problem is that I fear that my kids are becoming somewhat cavalier about the life and death of these creatures. Some pill bugs died? Oh, well. There are more. A caterpillar died? Oh, well. There are more.

Since my goal is to sensitize them to nature and life cycles--rather than desensitize them--we must make a change. So last night, Hubs and I spoke to the kids about limiting our creature intake so that we can take really good care of each creature (and the increase in my kitchen counter space will also be much appreciated). We will only have about two critters at a time (not counting our permanent residents--the dog and the lizard).

And the creature realm is not the only realm that needs attention. In every way, we have too much stuff. I'm sure the kids got more Easter loot than they needed. I know they have more toys than they need. This summer will be the summer for paring down. And I mean it this time. We are foregoing the usual month-long trip to Colorado (*cue sad music*) so that we can do chores at home: clean out the garage, clean out all of the closets, have a garage sale, take stuff to Goodwill, visit the dump, etc. Will we finish the summer lighter, airy-er, and more nimble. And with, I hope, fewer critters languishing in random jars around the house.

I want my children to appreciate the value of things rather than the quantity of things--don't we all?--and I haven't done the best job of teaching them to do so. I need to do better. I was struck by my friend's recent post, in which she demonstrates that old things have value and that it's worth putting in some effort to save money while also creating unique things that you like--rather than piling up a bunch of crapola from the dollar store.

*This post is dedicated to our Betta fish (named "Betta") who is at death's door and who will probably perish before the day is done. He has been with us for almost two years, and he will be missed. Well, hubs and I will miss him. I hope the children will care at least a little bit.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you are doing this. Caring for critters and collecting critters is something kids don't understand the difference between.... zoos do a bad job at this too. Disney doesn't help either. Maybe you could do little "observation periods" with a different critter per week. Keep a tadpole in a cup to watch legs develop for a week, then put it back when it came. Or help pick up trash on the lawn to help the frogs get around.

Bye Betta - I'm sure you had a great life, you were loved.

w00t on the cleaning front. make room for breathing room!

baxie said...

It's astonishing how STUFF piles up when you have a child. I've been brewing a post on this very topic for a while now, maybe your opening salvo will give me the necessary motivation to finish it.

Aspiring Minimalist said...

"I want my children to appreciate the value of things rather than the quantity of things"

I think that's what my parents tried to teach us when my sisters and I were growing up. I am sure it wasn't easy for them. But I'm thinking that I am starting to understand now (many many years later).

Where we were little, we would catch caterpillars, grasshoppers and worms. We were never allowed to bring them into the house, and at the end of the day, we had to return them the their homes. Of course, we tried to sneak them in... :)

Contemporary Troubadour said...

We've been working on paring down for a while (several moves in less than five years will make you look at your possessions with a pretty critical eye if you have to schlep them yourself!). Can't say we are good at it yet, but we make good use of Craigslist and Goodwill to pass things on to others!

Excited about your goals and the reasons why you've chosen them. Hope you'll keep us updated on your progress so we can stay inspired to do the same :). It is so helpful to hear what other people are doing.

As for Betta, rest in peace.

Jana said...

This idea of paring down has been on my mind, too. On Saturday, I exchanged my stock of maternity clothes for some old clothes that were a little big and that I can fit into now, and in the process, became disgusted with myself. Why do I have all of these clothes? Why so many shoes? Why so many SHOES?

Ink said...

We, too, are planning to engage in the Great Decluttering of Summer 2010. Let's high five when we're done, ok?

Btw, "limiting our creature intake" sounds like a good title for something...

Ink said...

ps: RIP, Betta.

Or...hope you make a miraculous recovery instead! That would be even better!

Gaga said...

Stuff is a burden:(

Good Enough Woman said...

I'm kind of freaking out as I read all of your encouragement and support because it makes me realize I can't just give lip service to these ideas! I have witnesses (or blognesses)! I must follow through.

We did purge some creatures today. Released many of the living ones, said good-bye to the dead ones.

And Betta has, indeed, passed. The Boy didn't seem bothered much. Just being stoic, I hope. The Girl wept intensely for a few minutes.

JC, Yes, we do have a release program, but we need to get more serious about it.

Baxie, Post! Post!

AM, It IS hard. At least for me it is. I like to see them happy, so I accommodate.

CT, I will keep you posted! Baby steps, I'm sure.

Ink, We'll do high fives for sure and then reward ourselves with an "Angel" marathon.

Gaga, It IS! Except for when it's not. :)

loveskidlit said...

Totally worthwhile thing to do! We often will pour more money into fixing something (eg: kid's bike) than buying new, just to save on landfill. Makes us feel better, as an added bonus!