I don’t care if you have three graduate degrees and a PhD in Metaphysical Philosophy – you can never be prepared for the fear that comes with being a parent. It’s the worst kind of fear, because it’s a special kind of fear that seeps into every corner of your life. The thought that our kids will grow up without understanding the importance of giving back or being charitable citizens? Activate fear response. When your teenager starts dating a guy named “Big Easy” she met at the movies? Fear. That sinking feeling in your stomach when you can’t even open your son’s bedroom door for all the old Lego kits he won’t part with and now you’re pretty sure he’s a “HIT?” (Hoarder in Training)? FEAR.
IS THIS YOUR CHILD’S DREAM BEDROOM? WE’RE GONNA SHUT THAT $%*# DOWN RIGHT NOW.
But let not fear win, parents! Here is how to conquer fears of your child never leaving home to be an empathetic, caring person capable of charity who lives in a house NOT full of 5 foot high piles of old magazines, broken radios, and bags of half-started knitting projects. Nope; we are going to teach them to GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS.*
*It’s not going to hurt.
Plan a trip to Value Village. They’re everywhere – poke around online and find a close location. I’d suggest setting aside a good hour at least; while it takes ZERO time to donate goods to Value Village, this first trip is a mission of discovery and you’ll want your kids to see all the cool stuff other people have been able to part with easily.
Go through your own items to donate to Value Village. Clean clothing in good repair, working household appliances, curtains, home furnishings, etc. If you don’t need it and it’s too good for the dumpster, take it somewhere where it will help someone.
Once you arrive at Value Village, make a huge demonstration of your donation while you’re still in the car. Point out to your kids how you are pretty much saving the world* by donating your too-small jeans and that picture frame you can’t find a photo for. Talk it up real big – sometimes kids need exaggeration to hear the message.
*You are not saving the world, but you ARE doing a lot of good.
Let the kids pick out an item or two at Value Village. Teenagers will spend hours in the clothing section – even finding items with the tags still on! Younger kids will love the books and games. Bonus: Take kids to the electronics section and let them make you feel old when they ask you what “That machine” is.*
*It’s a CD player. And I am 42, and no son, I never had to churn my own butter.
Make the deal that the first purchase is on you, but on the condition they part with something of equal size/weight/value to donate back. You’ll keep clutter under control, they’ll have learned the benefit of giving by seeing the staff and Value Village programs and donation process in action, and no one will grow up to live in a house surrounded by a wall of rusty cars and bags of cat hair.
THIS WILL NOT BE WHERE YOUR FUTURE GRANDCHILDREN LIVE
Thank you to Value Village for sponsoring this post.