I’m the polar opposite of a hoarder. When my husband can’t find something, he often asks if I’ve thrown it away or donated it. It’s too easy for me – the thrift store is on my way to and from daycare and has a drive thru window! I don’t know if any of the stuff you donate actually ends up at your local store, but once my husband spotted some salt and pepper shakers just like the ones we have. What are the chances someone else donated another set of wooden salt and pepper shakers that looked an awful lot like a certain part of the male body? (I think they were supposed to be mushrooms, but come on!)
Luckily for my husband, his stuff is much safer now that we have kids. It’s much more rewarding to clean out a huge basket of stuffed animals than to thin out our closets of clothes or shelves of books. Also, I think we just don’t buy as much stuff for ourselves as we used to. It’s getting harder now that my older daughter is three. Recently I spent an afternoon gathering stuffed animals to donate while she was away. I only chose things that she’s never played with. Even if she used to love it, it made the cut and I held onto it. But if she’s not shown interest in three years, it was out the door. And of course that evening she’s looking for her purple and red stuffed rhino that’s been buried in some basket for three years and SHE CAN’T FIND IT. Oh, the mommy guilt. I totally caved. I emptied the entire bag out and somehow explained how all those stuffed animals got into that bag. (I was just taking them for a ride in the car?!)
Christmas shopping for my girls is starting to stress me out already. Maybe we’re horrible parents, but we really haven’t bought much for the baby. We haven’t had a Christmas or a birthday for her yet, so there haven’t been many occasions to buy her much. Having two girls only two and a half years apart means I can hand stuff down, but I am starting to see that soon they’ll want their own things. And the out of sight, out of mind mentality no longer flies with my three year old. She knows which things are hers and remembers everything! This year, while I can get away with it, I’m trying to buy them things they need. Even the three year old doesn’t yet have things she wants. I know how lucky we are! So, the little one (<12 months) is getting a fun towel, a rattle and some clothes. The big one (3) is getting a big girl water bottle so the sippy cups can go to her sister. She’ll also be getting clothes, a bag for her yoga mat, her own gardening tools and other things like that instead of bulky toys to take up space we don’t have. I also figure her grandparents and other family will be getting her toys.
How do you manage all the stuff that comes along with having kids and do we really need all this stuff!? I was just starting to think about this when I was invited to a parenting workshop this weekend to discuss parenting in an era of consumerism and affluenza. This workshop was created to help parents find ways to challenge the culture, de-construct the messages and live more simply. The facilitator, Linda Scacco, a licensed clinical psychologist who teaches at the University of Hartford in the Psychology Department started out the workshop by having us watch this:
Then we discussed things such as What are the consequences of living in a highly materialistic, consumer-oriented world? What is the impact on our families and on our children? How do we counter the messages as we try to live lives of value within our families and how do we counter the messages for our children? In two hours we were barely able to scratch the surface of questions like these. Linda recommended several books regarding this subject that I hope to check out when I have more time to dig into this subject.
- How Much is Enough? Everything You Need to Know to Steer Clear of Overindulgence and Raise Likeable, Responsible and Respectful Children: From Toddlers to Teens
- Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in An Indulgent Age
- Living Simply with Kids: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting
- What Kids Really Want That Money Can’t Buy: Tips for Parenting in a Commercial World
I’m certainly no expert on all of this – but I do know I’ve got way too much “stuff” at my house!