I was putting away some homeschool materials recently and my eye settled on a box of flashcards.
I found a set of world landmarks, one with animals, and a couple of those question and answer things. I had purchased these two or three years ago thinking they would be fun and educational to use with the kids. Since then, they have sat there virtually untouched. Sigh – a waste of cupboard space and money and a reminder of yet another thing I planned to do and didn’t complete.
I was tempted to get rid of them.
I don’t have a problem decluttering other things. But for me, it’s harder when it comes to fun “school-y” type things. What if we decide we do want to use those flashcards (or craft things or read that book)?
What if I can’t even remember what I got rid of and what I kept?
What if we “need” something we’ve gotten rid of? If this happens, I suppose we will go out and get them again. But it’s been my experience that this doesn’t happen. If something has sat in a cupboard for months and months, it’s safe to say I can happily live without it.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done a craft or used flashcards with my kids in the last 12 months (I feel pangs of guilt just writing that!) But that’s just not who we are. We are much more likely to read books together or ride bikes or make popcorn. How about if I let go of the expectations and embrace the truth?
Why should I hang on to something I really don’t plan to use and that causes me a little stab of guilt every time I see it?
Out they went.
These neglected cards reflected self-imposed expectations.
Expectations like that are just so much mental clutter that keep me from doing the things I really want to do. If I allow my space, my time, my heart to be full of neglected and extraneous things, I won’t have the time or energy to do the things I do love with my kids. Pesky distractions like these may even keep me from figuring out what I do want to do.
The flashcards were just the tip of the iceberg.
I have an entire cupboard full of supplies and books I bought because I thought I “should” be doing these kinds of things. But here’s the truth: I just haven’t gotten to them. The kids aren’t interested. They are busy with other things. I’m not interested either.
Why don’t I just get rid of it all?
Oh, even more guilt here! The wasted money spent, the unmet expectations. I need to let go of it all. The money is gone. Most of this stuff isn’t worth anything and even if it is, I’d rather bless someone else by giving away what I can. But somehow I still hesitate, thinking if I let go of these things, these books, games, activities, supplies, it will show that I’m not a “good” mom. I mean, “good” moms do crafts and play games with their kids, right? Sure they do, but “good” moms do lots of other things too, and who decides what a good mom is anyway?
I can do this; I can let go.
The weeding out is a process.
I’m going through my house bit by bit, discarding things that don’t fit our real needs. I realize this is an on-going process and I’m taking it slow. But every time I do get rid of something, there is a little more room on the shelf and a new breath of fresh air for me.
Fewer unmet expectations and less clutter helps me to be a better mom.
Goodbye flashcards! Now I have more time and energy to read that extra book to my kids, to build block towers with my toddler, and to take them outside for a walk. That’s what I was aiming for in the first place! And that is a beautiful thing!