Decluttering our Spaces: Media

When I talk about decluttering our media, it’s as much physical work as it is mental. From spending less time “online” and perusing social media, to decluttering our physical stash of DVDs, books, outdated devices, and magazines (yes, we actually still have some floating around) I have had my work cut out for me. Today, I’m writing to you from a place of contentment. I feel like we have a good hold on what we are allowing in and what we are purging. I joyfully go into this practice of physical decluttering knowing that I will come out of it feeling free from the fog of accumulating too much stuff.

The mental stuff is harder. Social Media offers some great ways to stay up to date with our friends, family, community event calendars, and children’s school and team events. Quite frankly, for someone sharing content like this, it’s the only way to get a message to the masses. It’s also really easy to get lost in the sea of information. I personally have wasted hours online with nothing really to show for it in the end. I’ve had to manage my own time online, including the deletion of YouTube from our smart TV’s and my iPhone. I would get lost in the stories of my favorite mom and homeschool mom bloggers. I have cut that out, opting to embrace with full-on joy, what is going on in our own family.

We have a collection of DVDs that truly prompted the urge to purge, I finally let go of an arm’s length of children’s DVDs. We had everything from The Wiggles to Dora the Explorer cluttering our family room and eventually our upstairs hall closet. I recently delivered the box full of old movies to our local Salvation Army drop-off center. Even though we still plan to grow our family by adoption, I don’t need to hang onto children’s DVDs. TV programming is pretty much instant gratification these days. For some reason, we also have quite a collection of horror movies…like the gory, icky, graphic ones that I can’t deal with (says the girl who binges entire seasons of American Horror Story in her down time.) I’ll be donating those, too. Why? Mostly because I don’t want my younger kids to come across that stash and really, I’m trying hard to create home where we don’t have to hide things. Secrecy makes things seem so much more tempting. No movies=no visual temptation or desire to check out gory, graphic horror movies.

You might say, “well, they could look on your Netflix profile and see scary stuff??’ You’d be correct! The kids have their own profile with parental controls and they know to ask before watching anything on TV, even if it’s on “regular TV”, which is an antenna picking up local stations. Otherwise, we (the adults) have accounts with Netflix and Amazon Prime. The kids also know that TV is off limits without supervision. The only screens they have access to are out in the open and in our living room and family room. Although my kids aren’t technically “online” we are setting them up for good screen habits. Their screen rules apply to TV, laptop, tablet, and eventually it will apply to phone. We tell them some zones are off limits for technology because they can interrupt our sleep (bedroom) or because it would be unhygienic (bathroom). My nine year old will be the first to tell you “no one wants poop germs on their tablet!”

I recently attended an informative talk given by the Youth Pastor where I attend a bi-weekly Mom 2 Mom Group. He was speaking about internet safety and offered a few really helpful tips for families that want to control what/when their kids are able to access online. I want to take a minute to focus on an example of the technology that can help keep our family members safe. Remember, none of these are a substitute for common sense parenting and guidance. Circle with Disney is a product you can use to manage every connected device (wired and wireless) on your home network. You can set up and manage Circle using a device with iOS 9+ or Android 4.2 +. Please check the Circle Support Site for router compatibility and home internet connection requirements. You can set online time limits on popular sites and apps AND filter online content by age for each family member. There are customizable filters for websites, too.  You can even “pause” the internet for the entire family, or a single family member. There is also a way to track your child’s online usage by app and by category.

As far as decluttering books and magazines, I have done two things outside of just dropping books off at our local donation site. First, I weeded through magazines, saving only TEN to use in our homeschool and art projects. I recycled those that we had already cut up with our collage projects. We use letters in different fonts and pictures to make collages sometimes. Second, I took all of our books (prior to donation day) and sat them on my dining room table and invited local friends from Facebook to come choose free books from my stash. A teacher friend and a daycare provider friend both took a few books off my hands. Now that my kids are getting a little bit older, the books they receive as gifts are bigger and take longer to read, which equals less clutter. We also use our local library to check out titles of interest. We still have a large variety of books, but they are all of some use. Currently, I’m not stressed out by the number of books we have in our home and the amount still unread. I Think that is a good place to be!

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