I first heard about homeschooling when our eldest was a newborn and our child-related clutter was limited to a diaper bag, a playpen and a few baby toys and stuffed animals.
Fast-forward 26 years…..after two moves in two years, we continue to fight the paring- down battle of stuff even though two children have left home and two remain. In one box I find old bottles of tempera paints that are easy to pitch because they’re all dried up. In another I find a set of rubber stamps that bring back memories of my children stamping out their names in ink and coloring in the letters. Still perfectly good and made much sturdier than what can be found in stores today, they’re not so easy to give up because of their condition and the fact that they bring back so many memories. Multiply that by many boxes’ worth of art supplies, books, drawings, book reports, educational games, hobby supplies and small craft projects (at least I didn’t keep the big ones!), and you can understand why it’s taking us so long to go through everything.
We’re making progress: we just emptied the second of two storage units we required to make two moves. But seeing all this stuff in one place reminds me once more just how much clutter a homeschooling family can create. All those years of indulging our kids’ interests by buying them related stuff for birthdays and Christmases, not to mention their own purchases, wound up filling a five-bedroom house plus its basement before we started on the pack-up-and-move-again phase of our lives that we’re in right now.
It’s been quite a job going through all this stuff and figuring out what to do with it. But I can’t look at it without thinking about what my children gained from all of it: the interests, the enjoyment, the education. The end result of what they did and made when they were children is still present in them today. All of them are creative and have interests. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of them say they’re bored. They still make things that they need and things that they want. All this stuff that I saved represents the benefits they gained, but even if I get rid of every single bit of it, my children retain what they learned and enjoyed while making all the art projects, papier-mache masks, homemade games and sewing and craft projects. It was worth all the clutter if it means they’ll always benefit from those projects.
In the meantime, do I have any advice for new homeschoolers about how to deal with all the clutter? Well, I can tell you how to organize it, but you should probably ask someone else how to find the time to purge some of it every year so you don’t end up overwhelmed by it after the kids leave home!