So with the regular influx of gifts for the boys, during birthdays, Christmas and other random times toys and such appear on our door step we are constantly sorting/donating/binning. We try to ensure too much doesn't come in but people are generous! (This still strikes me as an absurd problem to have when people are starving in the world...)
Before these special events we do a once over the toys and gather a bag or so to fill to either donate or throw out anything that is past it or junky.
I have talked to the boys from the very earliest ages about how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful, cozy little home. I have talked about the blessings of having "enough" and that there are many people who are not as fortunate as we are. But that their parents love them so much and want to be able to provide for them but sometimes life is really hard., maby they are unwell, maby they didn't get to go to school like we did, maby they have had a run of bad luck and their parents are struggling to find work. I have talked about them trying to imagine what it would be like if we didn't have "enough" and I describe what that might look like. We are very honest with our children about life. I want them to grow up knowing the diversity of people who make up our world, the rich and the poor and the in between. Most importantly that there is often very little difference between us all and that quite frankly all it takes is a set of bad circumstances for life as we know it to change in a heartbeat.
Our eldest is especially very empathetic, he often donates his pocket money to charity, he happily goes through his toys and donates what he doesn't use. He is not made to feel pressured or guilty about the process. We make it a loving time where he thinks about others, which I feel is very important in children who are naturally ego-centric! If there are two toys that are very similar sometimes I will let them choose which one he wants to keep and which one they want to donate. He takes great pride in donating his toys. Gussy is happy to donate too, he is not overly attached to most of the toys in the house. But I don't think he has the same social conscious as William at this stage. William was born a wise old man. Just like my Grant. But Gussy is happy enough to pop toys in a bag to "help people". Henry is too young but its interesting that the more children I have the less I realize they actually need and each child we become more streamlined with the "baby" orientated things in the house. My eyes have certainly been opened to the power of commercialism and consumerism that's for sure! I have wasted more money then I would have liked too. Ahh the value of hindsight.
I think it is important for children to look at their belongings to identify what they use and what they don't and what positive things they can do with the 'excess'. Its a life long skill to not expect "things" to bring us joy and comfort. I wan to teach my boys to turn to God, family and friends in time of distress rather then valuing possessions or filling their life with "stuff" which can never never fill a void no matter how lovely the item is. (Trust me I have tried!)
At times it has been difficult for the boys to donate....At these times I break up the task and we do only a few things at once and I pop them in a bag which is kept OUT OF SIGHT. (that is they key to success!) I think de-cluttering is like a muscle. At first it can be tricky to make decisions to get rid of things as we form emotional attachments to our belongings but if we keep using it, it becomes easier and we get a stronger sense of what we are donating and keeping. And eventually it becomes FUN! For me now donating a couple of bags of stuff is more rewarding then going on a shopping spree used to be. And if you know how much I used to like shopping well....that's saying something!
I think its the knowledge I will never have to dust/tidy/pick up/maintain those unused items again. I don't want to spend my time a slave to my house! I want my house to be a place I come to relax, unwind, to spend time investing in family and friendships rather then housework. The less "crap" we have in the house the more I am able to do this, and same goes for the boys.
One of the biggest motivators in getting the boys to de-clutter was showing them how fast they could tidy their room. Suddenly no more nagging from me and no more whining from them! its a 5 minute job and so they can cope with it.
And if they do start to complain I respond by, "Ok, that's fine, if you don't want to be tidying it up I'm happy to donate it to charity for you. You have 10 minutes to clean up what you want and anything left Ill pop in a bag for you and take it away so you don't need to worry about it." Sometimes they pro-actively come to me with a few things they don't want, usually it all gets packed away. ;)
Hope you have a lovely day!