(This post was originally published in November 2012.)
You may recall that about a month ago, I put away almost all of the girls’ toys. They have been stored in the garage for a month now, and the girls have not asked for them back! My house has been so much easier to pick up every day, and we’re not tripping over toys all the time. It is awesome.
The funny thing is that even without the toys, the girls have been playing more than ever. It kind of reminds me of in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, when the Grinch stole all the toys and Christmas came anyway:
The Grinch HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
Not that I’m the Grinch or anything, but my point is that you can’t stop kids from playing even when they don’t have toys. They will play just the same! 😉
Take this one simple laundry basket. It kept my kids entertained for an hour. I always used to wonder if kids with just a stick and a hoop or one little soccer ball really had any fun. Well, stick and hoop…I raise you a laundry basket. 😉
Well, that’s great and good. But what about Christmas? Surely…they’re getting toys for Christmas?
Well, the answer is: sorta. Violet’s birthday was our first present-giving holiday and even though this sounds TERRIBLE, we did not get her a gift. She had a great day with her family, had a balloon, and some cake…and she was so happy. Obviously, as she gets older, her hopes on her birthday will change and so our little birthday celebrations will also change. This experiment in living with less is not about deprivation – it’s about enjoying and living life in a conscious, intentional way.
So, for Christmas, I have been going over what to do. I have floated a few ideas, and I’m not set on one.
The first idea is to do the four gift Christmas: Want, Need, Wear, Read. Basically, each child gets a gift they want, something to read, something to wear, and something they need. These gifts can be small (for example, my friend Jen gave her kids a toothbrush for their Need last year).
Another idea is to give three gifts, like the Three Wise Men gave Jesus.
But the idea I’m probably going to do is: One gift from us. One gift from Santa. Plus a stocking.
I wish that had a better “ring” to it (like Want, Need, Wear, Read). Haha!
After working so very hard to declutter the house and working to make it sanctuary-like (haha, as if that’s going to happen with three kids!) – the last thing I want to do is fill it back up with more stuff.
The hardest part about getting rid of everything (besides the emotional attachments) has been to resist the urge to buy MORE things. Every day a new catalog comes in the mail enticing me to literally BUY happiness.
What I have learned through this whole process is that happiness is not for sale.
In fact, clearing out all the stuff has been like cleaning off windows to my soul. It has made our home happier, really. I mean, it was always happy. But now my kids are not arguing over who gets what toy, and getting upset when a piece of a toy goes missing or is broken.
Instead, they are spending hours drawing and making their own coloring books and cards and little paper dolls out of white paper.
On Friday, Paprika got a balloon at school and you know what…the girls have played with that little balloon all weekend. For two hours just this morning. A balloon!
I feel like having less and giving my kids less is really a gift to them. It sparks their imagination. It makes them look at things differently. It opens them to possibilities.
I don’t think kids actually want more all the time unless they are told to want. All the marketing and consumerism targeted at children is overwhelming and scary. All they really want is that feeling of security, knowing they are loved, and the chance to be creative and imaginative in a safe space.
So, anyway, that is just a long way of explaining why all the Christmas catalogs are going in the recycling before they come into our house. Why we won’t be shopping Black Friday this year.
If my kids are only getting one gift, it will be a good one. But the funny thing is, I have asked them what they really want for Christmas, and they can’t think of a single thing. Who knows…maybe Santa will be bringing them each their very own laundry basket this year! Haha.