ALL OF THE "STUFF"
Parents have a tendency to go a smidge overboard with accumulation of material things for their kids. It can happen perfectly innocently. It sneaks up on you. For every sock and Tupperware lid that goes missing, I swear another random toy with a dead battery appears in the house. If it’s not the parents’ doing, you can pretty well guarantee that the grandparents will take it on as their personal duty to inundate your home with a ton of useless plastic knick-knacks as a symbol of their bonds of love. One thing I’ve noticed with kids is they can get equally excited over a ten-dollar toy as they can with a hundred-dollar toy, and they can also get bored of it just as fast. Don’t try to impress kids with things because you will either foster an unhealthy attachment to material belongings or you will suffer great disappointment when they don’t care about something with great monetary value. Don’t try to show your love by buying an excessive amount of things.
I’m not a minimalism purist, but I will say that most of my readers can benefit from less – and I acknowledge that I am speaking from a place of privilege, because there are a great number of families who struggle to afford basics. When basics are covered, I believe a healthy home needs to be cleaned out on a semi-regular basis and needs an elemental form of organization. The less clutter around you, the less scattered your mind will be. The less toys you own, the less daunting the mess appears, and the less time it takes to tidy up a space. The more selective you are about what’s in your home, the more in tune you are with your fundamental values. When everything has its place, and the whole household knows where things go, there’s more mental space available to you; it’s one less thing to think about, to put off or to do later. Making more physical space around you invites room for things like creativity and imagination. I believe it also invites new blessings into your life because, energetically, it sends out a message that you are willing and able to receive more – whether that be more love, more enjoyment, more wealth, etcetera. Kids with less useless stuff benefit in the same way adults do.
Look to the previous generations for guidance with living with less – perhaps your own parents or grandparents. Many of them had to make do with less when they were raising kids, and they gained wisdom from that. My Auntie is excellent at rotating toys, for example. If you keep some toys hidden away in a closet for a while, kids will find them new and exciting the next time you bring them out. It’s a great way to combat toy boredom and monotony. I’ve also found, from spending quality time around my children’s great-grandparents, that the oldest and simplest types of toys never go out of style. Toys that my grandma has saved, such as wooden blocks, puzzles and fabric books, have been enjoyed for three, even four, generations and my kids still flock to them like they’ve hit the jackpot.
If I had a religion, it would probably be the religion of regifting; I believe in it that much. Regifting, thrifting, consignment and donation are the answer to a lot of the world’s problems. Because people had to live with less before, a reflex reaction is sometimes to obtain more, just because we have more options and availability. When that results in getting things that you don’t want and need, or more than you need, don’t feel an obligation to keep it all. Don’t pity hoard. Don’t obligation avalanche yourself. You can thank the givers for their gifts and their kind gestures, while also setting those things aside. If someone gives you cloth diapers and you don’t want to use them, donate them or save them for a friend’s future baby shower. If you don’t need a fourteenth set of Hot Wheels, set them aside for another kid’s birthday party – because you know there’s going to be an obscene amount of those in your future. Be thoughtful, be resourceful, and be intentionally selective with your received gifts.
In terms of getting things you do need, I recommend secondhand items for nearly everything – especially for toys and clothes. A big bonus of kids growing so quickly, is that they often don’t use one single item for very long, so you can find a lot of excellent quality and condition items in thrift stores, online markets, garage sales and from friends. The only things you need to use caution when getting secondhand are items with possible safety concerns, such as cribs, car seats and bikes – and even then, you can go off of your own comfort level with the product information available to you.