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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Decluttering with little kids

Uploaded: Jan 19, 2016
Like many families, we are starting out the new year by sorting through our stuff. Figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of.

While I do enjoy the end result, I find it very challenging to declutter with little kids. Rather than carving out an afternoon or a weekend to work, I find myself with small chunks of time throughout the day - ranging anywhere from 5 minutes to two hours. It really depends on whether a kid is sick, teething or otherwise unsettled.

So far my kids have enjoyed checking out some of the little trinkets I've collected over the years that have no place to go. And I've learned that their scribbles and old toys usually hold much more sentimental value to me than they do to my kids.

As with many tasks, it's challenging to find the right balance between working and enjoying the moment. So, as you can guess, it is taking me awhile to sort through our belongings.

I think many things will end up in boxes for me to "deal with later." Someday when I don't have a preschooler or a toddler asking me to play.

How do you declutter with little ones? Did you end up leaving a lot of it to deal with later?
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Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jan 20, 2016 at 10:24 am

Best idea and advice I was ever given was to get rid of more than we want to keep. However, always take a picture of each item both as a picture of the item itself and also a picture of the owner (child) with each item. Put on the picture description the date, where the item originated, if it came from a certain person or trip, etc. Then make memory books (virtual or physical) to keep these items for memorialization.

We have some great pictures of kids playing with a toy, wearing a cute outfit, holding a self-portrait or craft, etc. with the item itself long gone. When you take a picture of first new bed, also take one of last time in crib. It isn't always the item itself you want to keep, just the memory. Pictures take up a lot less space and looking through a memory book is much better than having lots of dusty boxes of stuff that is seldom, if ever, going to be looked at in the future.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 20, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4- Great idea! Thanks for sharing. What a nice way to keep the memory without keeping the actual item.

Posted by MPer , a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jan 22, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Everything with toddlers is more challenging that with out. They have short attention spans, they are demanding, they live in the now, they get frustrated easily because they can't do the things they want to do.

I do appreciate your effort, but come on. All your posts have the same theme. Doing thing with little kids is more challenging that with out them.

I encourage you to use your knowledge of social psychology and write a post using that info in respect to child rearing.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 22, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

MPer- Thanks for commenting and for your post suggestion.

Posted by Sonya, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks,
on Jan 24, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Cheryl, I thought your comment to MPer was very gracious. I, too, would like to see your perspective as a fairly newly-minted PhD in social psych who has toddlers. Yes, it is true that everything with toddlers is hard. They are voracious. My children are now older, but I remember how I could turn away for five minutes and one of the two would have made a mess that would take me a half hour to clean up. All I can say is hang on and try to enjoy the ride. Plus, don't worry about trying to be out and about all the time. It's ok for them to be bored here and there. It teaches them creativity.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Sonya- Thank you for the kind words. With the rain we've been spending a bit more time indoors. You are right, it's been fun to see what games they've come up with - even the messy ones. Thanks for commenting.

Posted by Mom of 4, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Jan 25, 2016 at 1:54 pm

MPer has a point. I had a blog in the Palo Alto Weekly when my oldest was a toddler and I was pregnant with the second. I was careful not to perpetuate stereotypes about women losing their ability to think and write (diaper brain) after having children and made sure my posts were interesting, even provocative. It's a gift, to have this space reserved for you to express yourself. Any blogger who really has nothing to say should relinquish her assignment and let someone else take over.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 25, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mom of 4 - Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Posted by Sonya, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks,
on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:12 am

Wait... what? Children don't raise themselves, nor are they all raised by foreign nannies. Raising toddlers is a full-contact sport, but unlike any sport the consequences are immense. And when you're a well-educated older mom, you are aware of a lot more consequences. Maybe more intellectual women should admit to Diaper Brain and how they worked through it instead of worrying about other moms accusing them of Diaper Brain. And anyway, where is Mr. Cheryl? Building his career while Cheryl tries to figure out what to do with the clutter?

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Sonya - Thanks for commenting and for sharing your experiences. The toddler years definitely present a unique set of challenges that can keep you on your toes. It will be interesting to look back on these years when my kids are older.

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