Friday, April 24, 2009

Today, boys and girls, we learn about space conservation

I love garage sales. I have a hard time paying more than a buck for much of anything, so even thrift stores are tough for me. I'm tickled that garage sale season has started up again in this part of the world. My boys are delighted, too. However their delight has led us to a bit of dilemma.

People in my bloodline (children included) have a nose for sniffing out deals. And while saving money is great, saving money can sometimes just lead you to acquire more crap. When you can't pass up that great find at the garage sale because its sooooo frugally lovely, you still have to take it home and find a place for it.

In our household, space comes at a premium. Two families, one house, no "garage". I'm guessing the total house square footage at 1500-1800. From which two businesses are run. Where four adults and two rambunctious darlings run freely. Somedays, its more squished than others. In any event, seeing as how "space" isn't readily available, you can't just bring in a Hot Wheels race track and assume its going to fade into the corner somewhere. See where I'm going with this?

Iggy and Ooky are getting good with money, have their own wallets, do odd jobs to earn money every so often. Garage sale season means they're going to get serious bang for their buck. Problem is, where do you put what they buy? (By the way, you can't ask them this at a garage sale when they're looking at the coolest toy ever. It doesn't matter if its taller than they are and longer than their bed. They are so sure they can make room for it.)

Mama had to get creative. First, she told Iggster and Ooky that their room is considered clean when stuff fits in the closet. I don't care how its stacked or shoved in there, but if I sustain major injury when I open the closet door, that means there's too much in there. I also said that their room is considered clean when there isn't anything on the floor. Meaning,, lining up boxes or bags or stacks of books along the outer edge of the room doesn't fly. It needs to be on a shelf or in the closet. So Igg and Ook got to work on that. They decided on an amazing pile of CRAP they suddenly didn't need anymore. I smiled big. The closet door closed nicely. And I could see their floor.

Today was library day, and of course there were garage sales on the way. We stopped, and they were given their wallets. I said to them, you are free to buy what you want, its your money, you earned it. But for every toy you bring into the house, ANOTHER (similarly sized) TOY HAS TO LEAVE. And by leave, I mean LEAVE. Not find somewhere in the dog kennel to store it until a later date. Gone. Never to return.

Something interesting happened. Instead of picking up every toy their little hands could carry (and afford) they started thinking about what they were choosing. They knew that by purchasing something, they would have to move something else out of the house. So that specially garage sale priced giant hot wheels track that takes up a bazillion square feet to store? Wasn't an issue, since the amount of toys they'd have to get rid of to keep it would be insane. Didn't matter if it was in the free box. They weren't the least bit interested in taking it home. And the fifteen million matchbox cars? Even at a penny a piece, do we really want to take home all fifteen million? You could see, they were actually thinking about it...making real decisions.

The boys did end up spending a couple bucks today and came home with a few things each. I made them keep the items in the living room until they went into their room and brought out what they were planning to get rid of in order to bring the new toys in. All in all, it went pretty well. I'm always pretty stoked about life lessons like these. I mean, academics are grand, but really. Being able to add up three dimes and a quarter is great. But looking at the toy and being big enough to decide you don't really need it or want it enough to get rid of something me, that's a way bigger deal.

Too bad stuff like THAT isn't on the standardized tests...


Ruralmama said...

With reference to the standardized exams--could you imagine the tantrums? WOW.

The girls are painfully learning that their bedroom isn't a storage unit as well. Painful because Pickle, at 3, is a dickens when it comes to hiding things that later she trips over, sleeps on, or steps on, which result in boo-boos (which then have to be kissed).

Glad that you're having more success.

Amy said...

Poor Pickle.

Well...I won't brag about Iggy and Ookster undertanding. Because I'm a real enough parent to realize that kids generally love rewards/systems/whatever when they are new...and I fully expect that by mid summer, they'll be trying to kick my butt over the entire thing. Then I'll have to be unpleasant about it. Darn it, parenting can be such a chore :)

Vicki said...

I'm so impressed! I have about the same size house with the same amount of people and unfortuately for me who loves wide open space, they are all pack rats. (~.~)