Monday, May 30, 2016
One Thing In... One Thing Out...
I dare say that being a minimalist as a single person is much, much easier than following this path as a parent. Granted, parents set the tone in the household. But kids? They aren't "there" yet. They don't understand what having "too many toys," means. That's where our adult "wisdom" comes in. Our little one is obsessed with acquiring. I'm not sure where she gets it from because both my husband and I aren't much for compulsive shopping or anything. But, she absolutely loves new shiny toys. Then again, what kid doesn't? Right? Am I a complete stickler that won't buy her anything? No. Absolutely not. I just simply set rules. When we go to the toy store (a really nifty and affordable consignment toy store up the street from us), she's allowed no more than 2 toys. The catch? She must donate 2 toys from home to children who don't have any toys. As soon as we get home, she must choose 2 toys she no longer plays with and put them in bags. Those bags go in my car and the 2 "new" toys can come in. We then go together to the nearby Salvation Army and donate her old toys. The rule is simple. If you bring something in, it's going to cost you something. In other words... for every item you let in the house, you MUST dispose of something else. Of course, this summer we will be purging a lot! And NO, I will not be replacing what we purge! But, the idea is to set the tone, debrief them on the rules, explain the reason and logic behind it and then watch your kids treat it as absolute musts. Our little one sticks to the 1 or 2 "new" toy rule like it's a religion. She does not even dare ask for a third. She doesn't know she can! It's simply... 1 or 2 and that's that. When it comes to price? I set the same standard. This is how much we have to spend. If the toy falls within the price range, we get it. If not, we don't. Sometimes she wins, sometimes she doesn't. But, she's okay every time. Why? Because rules are rules. Believe it or not... kids thrive on structure. I teach teenagers. Over the years, my kids are the happiest in classrooms that have structure and consistency with the rules. They go crazy and act out in those classrooms in which the teacher is their "friend," and throws rules out the window. Works very much the same with parenting.
So, plant a seed of boundaries in your children when it comes to acquiring. Of course, the most important seed is to teach them that "stuff" doesn't validate our existence. "Stuff" comes and goes. We should not get attached. Generosity should come easily. But, children learn from our very own actions a lot more than they do our commands. BE the example. Let's give our stuff away alongside theirs. Then they will see rules in action and that will make all the difference.