I finally gave up and took it all away. I wasn’t angry, just fed up. I calmly began packing up not just a toy or two, but every single thing. All their dress-up clothes, baby dolls, Polly Pockets, & stuffed animals, all their Barbies, building blocks, and toy trains, right down to the the furniture from their dollhouse and play food from their kitchen. I even took the pretty Pottery Barn Kids comforter from their bed. The girls watched me in stunned silence for a few minutes and then, when the shock wore off, they helped. And just like that, their room was clear.
The Paradigm Shift (noticed shift 4 weeks later. next trip. didn’t want to buy cheesy trinkets) addiction to stuff. I had no idea what a dramatic difference this one semi-impulsive decision would make in all our lives. I first started noticing a real change about 4 weeks later when we took a family trip to Key West.
In contrast to our last outing and for the first time ever, neither girl asked us to buy a single thing the entire weekend. Not a toy, not a cheesy souvenir, not a light-up necklace from a passing street vendor. Nothing. We passed hundreds of shops and they loved looking in the window, but they were content just to be. What was most amazing to me was that we didn’t talk to them about it ahead of time. Not once did we have to tell them not to ask, or explain that being together was what mattered.
Had I not experienced it with my own eyes, I would’ve never believed that an addiction to stuff could be broken that quickly. The truth is that when I took all their stuff away, I was terrified at what would happen. I worried that I was scarring them for life, depriving them of some essential developmental need, taking away their ability to self-entertain. Their attention span is much longer and they are able to mindfully focus on their task at hand. They color or read for hours at a time and happily spend the entire afternoon playing hide & seek or pretend.
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