So much stuff and how to let go

looking to my backyard

The view from where I work. The home we’ve lived in for 28 years.

We have lived in our house for close to three decades. During that time, we’ve acquired a lot of stuff. We had our babies here, raised them and sent them off to school and adulthood. They left most of their stuff behind in their bedrooms. It’s time to declutter!

We are in the process of clearing out junk, getting the yard cleaned up, and fixing the house up. We’re talking about moving. Whether or not that happens will be seen, but we’re cleaning out our clutter, painting and fixing things up as though we’re going to do it.

It’s a difficult process and I have so much trouble letting go of things. When we moved in we brought all our junk with us from our prior house. Then we got keepsakes from our parents, not to mention years of swim meet medals, school awards and assorted keepsakes from our children — and our own honors, awards and baubles. Then there’s the photos albums, camping gear, beach stuff, artwork, manuscripts, etc.

Today I called my son and told him I made a trip to our local thrift shop Angel View, that supports crippled children’s homes. I had trouble parting with two caps he used to wear. I finally tossed them in the “to go” pile

baseball caps

My son’s caps filled me with nostalgia.

and both kids told me, “Oh no!” One was from Guide Dogs of the Desert from when my son raised money for the charity rather than accept birthday presents in the second grade.(I wrote a story for the LA Times about that and wrote about it here.) The other was from Olympic Trials in Long Beach where he got Olympic swimmers to sign his cap as well as his teammates. I am fighting the urge to go back to Angel View and buy the two caps!

Here’s excerpt from an article from NPR with tips by Emma Bowen called ‘But Do I Love You?’: Tips For Homebound Declutterers

Where to start

The sheer volume of possessions accumulated through generations, compounded by any associated sentimental value, can create what might seem like an insurmountable task when it comes to the weeding-out process.

Overcoming those challenges, Hall said, starts with having the right mindset.

“You have to be really brutally honest with yourself. What do you want? If you want to thin out, if you want to downsize your home and get rid of some of this clutter, you have to want it,” she said.

From there, she recommends recruiting friends or family members to help discard or donate items. Cabinets and closets are always a good place to begin chipping away at the mess, she said.

Hall’s approach to tackling these heaps echoes the philosophy of tidying expert Marie Kondo, who asks her declutterers to dispose of items that don’t “spark joy” for its owner.

“For me, the key has always been to make peace with the items I’m letting go of,” Hall said. “I hold it, and I look at it and I say, ‘Do I like you? Yes, I do, but do I love you? No, I don’t.’ And if I don’t absolutely love it and cherish it, I take a picture of it and I let it go.”

sunset and palm tree view from my yard

Sunset view at home.

Have you decluttered during the pandemic or made a move? How do you handle the stress of deciding to let go of your worldly possessions?

Helicopter Parents Crash Summer Camp

 

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When my kids went to summer camp.

I’ve written about how helicopter parents are showing up in the workplace with their millennials here. Now, I’ve learned that parents are finding ways to hover over their kids’ summer camp experience, too.

In an NPR article called “Are Helicopter Parents Ruining Summer Camp?” by
Anya Kamanetz, I learned that helicopter parents often ignore summer camps “no cell phone” rules by hiding their kids’ phones when they pack for them.

“Barry Garst says thanks to mobile devices, parents today are conditioned to hour-by-hour check-ins. ‘The No. 1 concern is the separation that parents feel, and the difficulty in accepting a different type of communication with their child when their child is at camp.’ Garst studies youth development at Clemson University, with a focus on out-of-school learning.

Hence, the phones buried in luggage, mailed to campers, or even, he says, stitched into a stuffed animal.

The research on overparenting, says Garst, shows that when parents behave this way, children’s developing independence can be stunted. The parents are telegraphing that they don’t think kids can get through tough moments on their own, and kids pick up on that attitude. ‘Children are not really learning how to problem-solve.’

Leslie Conrad and Dan Mathews agree. (Conrad is the director of Clemson Outdoor Lab in Pendleton,  S.C., and Mathews is the head of Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Ga.) Both say their young adult staff members have helicopter parents as well, who also expect to be in constant contact. Last year, Mathews says, he got four or five phone calls from parents of staff members: ‘I can’t reach my child, they haven’t texted yet to say that they’re safe, they don’t like their cabin assignment, another staff member isn’t pulling their weight …’ One parent complained about the poor cellphone reception in the Georgia woods.

Summer vacation is a time of growth and change. Understanding the relationship between tech overdependence and parent-child interdependence may be key to untangling it, so kids can fly free.”

I remember when my kids went away to their first camp. There was a “no cell phone rule,” too at swim camp at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. They didn’t own a cell phones then, so it was not an issue. I did want to check up on them, and the camp instructions said we could send them with a prepaid phone card that they could use at the pay phone outside the dorms. Unfortunately for me, my kids never used the cards. “I didn’t know how to use it,” one child said. The other told me, ”I didn’t want to stand outside in the dark where the pay phones are and I only had time to call at night.”

We all survived one week without talking on the phone. I don’t know if we would today. My kids call quite a bit and I do the same. We’re much more dependent upon cell phones now. I was actually finding myself getting annoyed with so many calls yesterday from my kids. My husband and I were trying to watch a movie and we got two calls from one child. Then as soon as we hung up and started the movie, the second child called. Those weren’t the only calls from them that day–I had lost track of the previous calls. I honestly don’t think my kids realize that I sometimes have things to do or can have fun without them.

Here’s a tip from a website called Common Sense that addresses kids and the media and technology:

“Dear Mom, Don’t Pack My Phone for Camp” By Regan McMahon
“Let’s be honest: sending kids to camp with a cell phone is probably more for you than them. Here’s how to cut your cord.

“When your kid’s summer camp tells you to just pack the essentials — swim suit, sunscreen, sleeping bag — a cell phone is usually not on the list. In fact, it’s generally on the “What Not to Bring” list. But for parents, staying in touch with our kids feels essential, and some find it’s not so easy to break the habit.

“If the kids can unplug, why can’t we? Since we can all admit the cell phone is more for us than for them (kids aren’t the only ones with camp jitters), here are some tried and tested tips from recovering camp moms. You will get through it.”

Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.

When your kids go to summer camp, how do you communicate with them? Or, do you let them experience camp without talking to you daily?

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My kids today.