A major spring cleaning is in order. There are only a few more weeks to go before we roll out 2015, and I intend to welcome it with lesser clutter at home. I say lesser, because I think it’s quite impossible for my little family to totally get rid of it, considering how all three of us love collecting certain things – from magazines, to toys, to photos, even jars.
A cheerful Sloan with his dad right after donating his toys and old clothes. (Photo from author)
I always try to involve our son Sloan in this activity, especially since he already has an attachment to some of his belongings, like his books and toys. I usually start with a casual talk, about how we’re planning to sort stuff at home, and that we’ll need his help. I also mention that he would have to choose which of his toys he doesn’t play with so much anymore, and that he can share those with other kids instead. This talk is done weeks in advance, and brought up again every now and then before the intended clean-up date. This way, Sloan would warm up to the thought that he might have to let go of some things he calls his own.
When clean-up day comes, I let him choose which stuff he’d like to give away or keep. I make him try on the clothes and if we find some that are already too small for him, I suggest that we give it instead to children who might need it more. “Kasi big na ako?” he once inquired. “Yes Sloan, so we’ll give the small clothes to the babies who need it, and we’ll get you bigger clothes,” I replied. “Okay,” he agreed.
For toys, we review every item, and again I let him decide which ones he’d like to keep or give away. If I spot a broken toy that could no longer be repaired or can hurt him with its sharp edges, I explain so that he understands why we’d have to throw it away.
It can be a long process and I always remind myself to be patient and focus on the thought that this is a good teaching moment, and it could help build Sloan’s character.
Once everything is sorted out – including our own stuff – the three of us go to the donation center together. There, we show Sloan the donations from other people, and explain how all those will be delivered to places far away to help those in need.
I have a feeling he understands the idea behind the exercise more than I think he does.
We make sure to recognize his effort and his generosity by treating him to ice cream or going to the park afterwards. We also say it in words, and tell him how he did good because he shared with others.
Now, whenever I see Sloan being generous to other kids with his food or toys, or confidently expressing himself, I like to think that our efforts are paying off: we’ve taught him about sharing, without making him feel deprived, and that his opinion is valued.
Who knew spring cleaning could also be a great teaching moment?
Thumbnail image used under Creative Commons from Ben Grey