29 March 2013

On the subject of stuff

We have a lot of stuff.  Some of it new, some of it old, some of it meaningless except to us.  It's bits of our shared history, our individual histories, lots of books and lots of CDs, memories, useful stuff, cords for things, clothes, photos and toys. And I should reiterate.  Lots and lots of books.  Lots and lots of CDs.  We're those kind of people.

Minimalist is not a term you use in our house unless you are referring to my domestic skills.

And we have a lot less grown up stuff than we used to just by virtue of the fact that we moved house twice in a year.  However, we've added two small people to the equation in the last 2.5 years and so the amount of toy and clothes stuff has multiplied like a science experiment gone wrong. Some of it we've bought, some has been gifted, some found in hard rubbish and lots has been hand me downs from children who've outgrown a skirt, or a kitchen, or a cot and we've been the lucky recipients.

I find myself constantly on the defensive about the toy room in particular but as of this week, I'm drawing a line in the sand and saying - you know - YES. We do.  And aren't the girls lucky?  And fuck off with your judgements.  

These are a few of their favourite things
Everything is their favourite
I love that in small people
I love being able to provide a place where the girls can play, indulge their imaginations, share their toys with their friends, read their books, run riot, dress up, lie down, colour in, squabble, cuddle and romp.  YES we do appreciate the generosity of our friends and family that have provided so many of the items that make up the room.  And YES we appreciate the family that put out the giant pink quad bike to be taken away during council clean up as I wandered up the road to dinner.  And YES, we like being able to give our girls things.

But having these things doesn't come at the expense of their souls.  They can play just as happily with a box, they love to make up songs and stories, they have manners, they share.  They give toys away to charities, friends.  They lose the occasional favourite when we are out and about.  They don't demand toys or things or throw tantrums to get things.  They take their surroundings for granted because they are only tiny and it's just where they play. And them taking their surroundings for granted is absolutely okay because they're still working out how to put their feet into shoes, their spoons into mouths and how to say the word 'milk' without lisping.

And YES I can be an indulgent parent.  If I see a little something they girls might like I'll go crazy - yesterday I bought two dinosaurs - for $1 each.  I know - I'm a regular Paris Hilton I am!  But we save the big stuff for special occasions and I'm sure as they grow older and more aware of marketing we'll have to set firmer boundaries but in the meantime, I'm saying thank you to all those that have given us old toys, old clothes and old books.  I'm saying thank you to a first world that allows me to give my girls a room of toys and I'm saying thank you to you for minding your own business.  If you're judging me and my little people on their toy room, I'd say it's not me that should be on the defensive.

That rant over I'm going to go and spin giddily in the midst of all our stuff and be full of gratitude.  I am going to choose not to feel guilty about our blessings.  Until I step on a piece of duplo and then I'm going to hop about profaning and threaten to throw the whole bloody lot out if they don't start putting it away! 


  1. It's a proven fact that stepping on a piece of LEGO is the most painful thing that a human being can be subjected to. Somewhere, I have a box of my LEGO in storage, but I hear that it goes brittle after a while? I hope it's still ok, so that my kids can share the joy I had with it as a child.
    We've spent a lot of time in the last year, clearing stuff out of our house, and just trying to focus on keeping the things we actually use and appreciate, but it helps to have lots of space to do this in, while sorting through things! Keep enjoying your stuff!

    1. Thanks Nik. Does Lego really go brittle? People the world round keep their lego for their own little people. It'd be a travesty if it didn't last!

  2. I hear you, Alison. I always feel like I have to over-explain our 'playroom'*, by saying stuff like 'it's actually the old study and we have laptops and tablets now and they're for laps and trains'. And I over-explain the 'stuff' by saying that we didn't buy all of it and that a lot of it was given to us (we even actually even assign an estimated percentage of stuff we didn't buy ourselves).

    Truth be known, the playroom is great. We can throw everything in at the end of the day and shut the door if we want (we don't, because we've actually thought ahead to the morning, when the kids are awake and can't open the door and come in to ask us to do it... which means getting up)**.

    I have 'stuff' too. Lots of it. I hoard books, I still have over 300 vinyl records - and I don't own a record player. I struggle to throw out the kids' artwork (although I'm getting better). We have space in the roof (fondly referred to as 'the attic'), in which 'stuff' is 'stored'. I have everything I've ever written since third grade - I was going to be a writer (and I kind of was... before kids).

    So anyway, I'm taking a leaf and not over-explaining anymore... it's just the 'piano room' I might have to over-explain...***

    *the old study ... we have laptops and tablets now and they're for laps and trains and ... the like.
    ** except that, with a newborn, I'm already up, so I may as well open the door.
    ***the room with the piano my folks gave me when they moved to Queensland and thought our kids might one day want to play. Before we renovated, the room was a pathway through to the back end of the house, but we turned it into a room of its own. It still has the piano in it, but not much else... hence the name (but we'll have to change it before Livvy goes to school, it might sound a little over the top for her to be telling people about our 'piano room'.

    1. Own that piano room girlfriend! And the toyroom! And you can never ever ever have too many memories boxed away. Or shoved on the shelves. Or stuffed into shoeboxes for sorting later. Or music. Or books. This is a scientific fact.

  3. I could have written this. I too have traveled this rollercoaster of emotions regarding clutter. If only my inlaws would stop jabbering on about how in their day the kids only had a clothes peg with a face drawn on it to play with blah blah. Gah I didn't outsource the global manufacturing industry to China did I!!!???

    1. All people of 'that' generation entertained their children with rice in bottles. Bet you a big fat golden dollar though that while the children might now be appreciative of their parents creativity, back then they just wanted a rattle like the one in the disney movies. I call it selective remembering of the good ol' days.