Families purge clutter to cut kids' stress


by KING Health Team


Posted on January 10, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 10 at 9:42 AM

The look is different now in the bedroom of Jimmy and Tobi Nguyen's daughter.

"Previously she'd walk into her room, and there'd be so much stuff she wouldn't know what to play with," said Jimmy Nguyen, explaining the change.

The Nguyen family purged all but a handful of toys and books. They found she only missed one thing, and now plays more creatively with what's left.

"It's almost as tall as me!" squealed their daughter as she built a tower of simple wooden blocks.

So do you think your kids might not be so excited about this?

"Maybe easing into it would be the right way to do it," suggest Tobi Nguyen, thinking back on her family's experience.

She believes that instead of tossing everything at once, you might get rid of a few toys a week, and work on other areas of your home. That way kids see everyone is living with less.

"One of the simple things we've done is we just each have two towels," said Tobi Nguyen.

Does that sound extreme? Kim John Payne, M. ED. wrote the book, "Simplicity Parenting", and says as the world gets crazier, you have to clear the clutter to find balance.

"When we overload our kids, when there's just too much, too soon, too sexy, too young, just too much, what happens is it actually disadvantages them," Payne said.

According to Payne eliminating what you have, instead of adding to it, actually helps your child and your entire family. He said people everywhere are giving it a try.

"It isn't exclusive to economic background or ethnic or racial background. It really is something that parents  are looking for across the board," he said.

He is co-director of The Simplicity Project. For a fee, his organization leads groups that meet to support each other, as families decide to live with less.

"It's ok to let go of all this stuff and to de-clutter, and your kids don't need 150 toys," suggested group leader Rae Lee Pierce, to the circle of women seated around her.

Payne said what really interests the kids and parents he's worked with isn't the toys.

"They were buying a lot of stuff out of a feeling of wanting to connect with their kids," he said.

He believes when the buying stops, the kids connect more with their parents, not the products. And adults feel less stress as they simplify. It's something that rings true with the Nguyen family.

"It's not so chaotic," explained Jimmy Nguyen who said  they have not just simplified their stuff, but their schedule too.

The family described simplifying as an ongoing process. They do a monthly clean-out, and two bigger purges, typically around the holidays and summer.

There are more tips on simplifying life with your kids on the Simplicity Parenting blog.



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