A week ago a friend gave us 5 bags and a laundry basket full of boys clothes and winter gear ranging in sizes for DS.  We made a promise or deal with my mom friend  that whatever didn’t fit our DS we’d share with others.  So, we call it “paying it forward” when we receive from others and then we give onto some other families.  We were able to pass on some of the goodies to another mutual friend with an even younger boy, and my two nephews who are also younger as well kept lots for DS.  We took in, thus we needed to give away too.  We purged DS’s closet and dresser, books, and toys as well as my closet  to pass on even more.  It felt good to receive so much but it felt even better to remove more.  We took in 5+ bags for our son and after the purge of our house we gave away 7 bags and a mailed off 2 boxes.

When our son was younger we tried to have a general practice of when we get new stuff, we pass on old stuff.  Of course our son took some of this a bit too seriously.  If he received something he didn’t like, he’d tell us which cousin or friend’s younger boy to give it too or tell us to donate it.  When he sees homeless/poor begging for food he is really quick to tell me to give them the food items left over or the snacks he doesn’t like.  As soon as he finished a book he didn’t like, he immediately let me know to give it away.  He was very good at putting books in the half-price books pile knowing that he would be giving books away and then get a chance to get other used books he hadn’t read.  And, he was very quick to give away shirts because he didn’t like superheroes or some of the characters.  We gave up on forcing him to wear ones that were gifts and instead handed them down to one of his cousins who we knew would wear it.  Just a couple years ago he was on an anti-animal faze for decorations and he found it extremely easy to give away things.  Everyday he’d tell me something else that he wanted off the wall or out of his room.

The harder part was convincing our son to part with toys he liked but outgrew and anything from his parts collection.  So we had to jointly agree with a plan.  If someone gave him new take apart items, he had to go through his pile or collection and reduce it.  This worked.  It also became fun for him.  He recycles what he can, harvests parts he reuses (switches, LED, & motors), and throws out what can’t be used.  He is also learning what has value.  He knows that we don’t take apart things that are brand new until he has at least played with them and used them.  Trust me he will often try.  When it comes to outgrown toys, that has started to become easier because now he wants to take them apart.  We usually discuss if it has resale value or if a cousin could use it before automatically taking something apart.  The last 3 birthday parties he had he asked his friends to bring him broken things to take apart and requested no gifts.  We know that some think its funny or strange, but many get it and like it because they know they are removing junk from their house and it thrills my son to take it apart.

Last year during Lent we did the 40 bags of Lent.  The goal was to reduce what you have in your house by 40 bags.  There was no size of bag or what got eliminated rules.  We used that to really stress the need to “pay it forward” and it lead to our plan of if we bring something in we need to get rid of something old.  Now its a year later and we are still doing that lesson.  It has become more automatic.  With Christmas over and the family gone, we did our big purge.  We will continue to do smaller purges whenever we can.  We really have been working on minimizing our foot print, decluttering, and passing our stuff on to others who could use it.  Next step is teaching the “paying it forward” with actions (volunteering).