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Sorry, Marie Kondo, But There's One Type of Clutter I'll Never Get Rid Of

Photograph by Twenty20

Toys.

Clutter.

Crap.

Call it what you will, but it all boils down to the same thing: a hodgepodge of what-nots and doodads. And lots of them (usually in undesirable places).

Clutter seems to be every mom’s kryptonite. Kids' crap everywhere. It seems unavoidable and a constant headache and battle to control all the stuff that kids accumulate.

I feel like I’ve tried it all when it comes to trying to rid myself of the constant battle that is my kids’ crap. We sing the cleanup song. We try to come up with practical storage solutions. On many occasions, I even sneak many a trinket into the giveaway bag, and it is seldom missed.

However, my son is a collector by nature. He’s always been one to pick up all the pinecones or sticks we find on a walk and insist on keeping every single one. Our car is a black hole for formerly beautiful, dried-up leaves and various forms of moss.

About a year ago, his grandpa got him interested in pennies. He now has an official collector’s guidebook, showing all the pennies and their values in various conditions, and has been obsessed with filling his penny albums, forcing every family member to look through their change for specific coins missing from his collection.

At first, I rolled my eyes and cringed at the beginning of yet another way to bring clutter into my house. I have since had a change in heart and have found myself encouraging this habit as he has added baseball cards and stamps to his long list of collections.

If there's an activity that rivals my kid’s interest over time spent on electronics, sign me up!

In a time when decluttering seems to be on trend (looking at you here, Marie Kondo), I’m going to stand on my soapbox and preach a few reasons why collections and the clutter that comes along with them are worth it and should be encouraged.

Collections link generations

Some kids have a hard time relating to adults. Talking to adults can be intimidating when you’re young. Most grandpas just don’t fully grasp a world full of popular TV shows and "Fortnite." However, when there's a common interest, the conversation flows freely. I’ve watched my 7-year-old son talk for over an hour on the phone with his grandpa across the country about specific coins: ones he has, ones he wants and ones that would make him rich. If that's not sparking joy, I don't know what is.

Collections teach academic lessons

Most collections have hidden value in the amount of learning that can take place through researching them. Baseball cards bring in conversations about history and social issues. Stamps can give information about geography and value. Coins teach math skills. The amount of learning that occurs when your child is truly interested in a topic is astounding.

Collections are not screen time

Kids watch too much TV and spend far too many hours playing, watching or discussing video games. If there's an activity that rivals my kid’s interest over time spent on electronics, sign me up!

Don’t get me wrong—not all collections are created equal. I still sneak my kids’ McDonald's Happy Meal toy collection into the Goodwill bag every so often, but I’ve learned to embrace his tendency to hoard collect.

So, my kid has collections. Lots of them. And they’re sometime a pain to me but also a benefit to him—and that matters more than making sure my home is completely clutter-free.

Now, excuse me while I go clean out the moss from the back of my minivan.

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