My daughter Juno is 7 years old. She has my freckles and my smile. Fortunately, she has my wife’s eyes, her button nose, and a contagious laugh that just slays me. This past Sunday, the three of us were dancing together right up front at a music festival, and the guy behind me saw how much fun she was having and over the blare of the music asked me, "Is she always this happy?" Yeah. In fact, her nickname is Happy. Seriously.
When she was about 18 months old, she acquired a small tiger-striped gray-and-white stuffed animal. Honestly, I don’t even know where it came from. But Gray Kitty became Juno’s velveteen rabbit.
In summer, we took it camping. It was in her carry-on for vacations to Mexico. It’s been back and forth, across the country countless times. Almost as much as Rumi (our toothless cat) and Pi (our dog who only barks in his sleep), Gray Kitty became part of the family.
So, last weekend in the garage, when I saw it at the bottom of our giveaway box, I cried on the spot.
Me. The coldhearted professional clutter coach. Weepy over Gray Kitty.
In my house, my daughter cleans up her bedroom every night before bed. She knows if there's anything that’s left on the floor before I come upstairs to read her books, I'll give it away. (Seriously.)
Very often, my daughter will intentionally leave something on the floor or bring something to me and say, "Dadda, you can give this away now. I’m finished playing with it."
At 4 years old, she started to understand philanthropic giving. At 7, she is articulate about having a clean, clutter-free, reasonably organized bedroom. She says it helps her sleep. She says it’s nice to have so much room to play on her floor. And I’ve heard her friends comment a thousand times that they would rather have more room to play than so many toys. It takes Juno only two minutes to tidy up because she doesn’t have a lot of stuff. (After all, that’s the No. 1 secret to a clutter-free home: fewer possessions.)
So, we always have a giveaway box in our garage that's half-full. But before I take the final plunge to throw these items away, I ask a few final questions and recommend that all my clients do the same: