I've been doing a lot of thinking in my own life, as one does this time of year, about fresh starts, de-cluttering my home (as well as my brain) and beginning anew, KonMari disciple that I am. And it led me to think about how we give kids fresh starts. When they start a new school year or have a birthday it's a pretty tangible way for kids to feel fresh and renewed. When I was little, New Year's didn't really mean much, other than being allowed to stay up really late, drink copious amounts of Martinelli's and shove twelve grapes in my mouth at midnight. All the New Year meant was having to begrudgingly go back to school, but it didn't have any real significance in terms of starting fresh.
So I was thinking of ways that kids can mark the turn of the New Year in a way that would feel exciting and renewing for them too, and I'm afraid that what I came up with is probably not so appealing to kids initially, in theory or in practice, but would be good for them nonetheless.
Kids get so many gifts for Christmas; they are overloaded, overstimulated, and desensitized by the time they go back to school in January. Perhaps a way to start fresh would be for kids to go through their toys, old and new, and really assess which ones they could possibly donate to kids in need. My church and school would do toy drives (where we purchased gifts) that we participated in as kids, but there was never an active challenge to get rid of some of our own things.
How great would it be if every January, kids could go through their possessions, piece by piece, and make an active choice to donate their older or less desired toys to children in need, rather than creating a stockpile of junk that they don't play with anymore? Out with the old, and in with the new, so to speak. And in the process, they could help re-organize their rooms, which could be a fun project that helps them feel in control of their surroundings. I loved moving my room around and changing up where I stored my things when I was younger.
Wouldn't it be a nice tradition to start? If instead of waiting for a spring cleaning, to start the new year with teaching our kids to give of themselves to others, while de-cluttering their own lives and taking charge of their surroundings. It could be an empowering experiment and I think it would give kids a chance to learn and grow, and start anew.