The Back to School Purge

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It’s September!!! The days are beginning to grow shorter, the nights are getting cooler and school is just around the corner.  If you have kids this is also the time you set aside to organize their bedrooms, closets, desks etc., in order to ready them for the coming new school year.  When I just had my two boys this was a very simple and painless endeavor, I walked into their rooms with several big bags, and began systematically going through their closets, drawers, and desks, getting rid of clothing that they didn’t want to wear, and the clothing I never wanted them to wear again.  I cleaned out their backpacks, decluttered and purged their desks from papers, pencil and eraser stubs, broken crayons etc.  I couldn’t understand why my school mom friends had such a hard time doing this when, to my mind all it really required was just to put some time aside to get the dreaded deed done….   And then I had my daughter and it all became crystal clear……

The year she entered junior kindergarten I walked into her room while she was at a friend’s house for a playdate and proceeded to empty out her closets and drawers.   I made three piles of clothing, one for friends with girls younger than my daughter, a second for no longer usable items  and a third to donate, an hour later I tied up the separate bags and set them in the garage.    When my daughter came home and went to her room what transpired can only be described as an epic meltdown.   I ran up to her room thinking she hurt herself only to find her standing in front of her closet blaming her brothers for stealing her clothes.   In an effort to prevent an eventual fratricide I told her I was the one who went through her closet.  I explained I went through her closet and drawers in order to get rid of  the clothes which no longer fit her to give to our friend’s daughter and the rest would be donated to charity.   I will never forget the look on her face when she calmly said to me I had no right to take her things and give them to away and, how would I like it if she gave away my clothes to other people and charity?  After making her point, she then threw herself onto the floor and cried for another five minutes.   In that moment, I realized she was right I wouldn’t like it, the boys didn’t care one way or another what happened to their clothes, my daughter was clearly more attached.  Another thing I realized was that my daughter even the tender age of 5, viewed her room as her personal space, the place she came to play, dream and get away from her two older brothers,  I had violated her little sanctuary; suffice it to say she was very mad at me.   When the tears finally ended (I find that either this process takes longer with my daughter or, after three kids I no longer have the patience)  we came up with a way we could de clutter and purge her room to both our satisfaction.   These five steps helped make this process less painful for us both.

  • Where will their clothing go? Have your child decide where their gently used clothing will be donated (we choose the Oasis Clothing Bank), this gives them a feeling of control and will reinforce their sense of community and charity.
  • Set the mood: Let your child choose their favorite music or a favorite program in order to help to set a fun and productive mood, this will help keep them motivated. My daughter likes to pick a movie she has seen a thousand times, and bets me that we will finish purging before the movie ends.  I don’t however suggest choosing a movie or show your child has never seen as this will hold more interest than the task at hand.
  • 3 Pile Method: Designate three piles, one for clothing never worn, a second for clothing your child has outgrown, and a third for clothing that is worn, stained and irreparable.  Most children are very visual, and the three piles helps them understand why they need to get rid of these items.
  • Mock Fashion Show: Try on the article’s of clothing they don’t want to let to give away, like the 3 Pile Method it will help your child process why they need to get rid of this article of clothing.
  • Reward for a Job well done: This doesn’t have to be something huge, for us it is an ice cream cone at our corner store.  Whatever the reward this to your child (and to a lesser degree yourself) the light at the end of tunnel or the carrot at the end of the stick; this will keep your child motivated to stay focused and complete the task.

Good luck and remember if you live in the Toronto and Greater Toronto area call us at 416 751 0553 for free pick up of your gently used clothing and small household items, or check our website www.clothingbank.ca for an Oasis bin near you.

Be Well

Oasis Movement

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