I feel as though I should preface this long extensive post with the fact that I haven't always practiced minimalism in our home. There was a a time when every square inch of our home was covered in 'made in china' manufactured toys. Toys r us had literally vomited all over the place
If you're a mom, or parent for that matter, I know you already know what it's like to spend what seems like your entire life picking up after your children, specifically their toys. Telling ourselves the day before that things will be different tomorrow. We'll make a quick Target stop and stock up on more storage bins. We will attempt to sort through the broken toys and give them away, as that pile just sits in the corner collecting dust. It's a tough commitment to stand by, and for me it was always, always debilitating.
As dramatic as that last statement sounds, and I know Scot can attest to this, the most solid arguments we've ever had have been revolved around clutter. Like I stated above, I haven't always physically practiced minimalism, but looking back now, I know that it's the only way I can mentally have a clear mind. I became a better, and happier mom and wife as soon as I stopped letting consumerism and outside opinions impact my decisions.
My biggest pet peeve, now almost eight years into motherhood, is the fact that there's an underlying expectation that children must have all the things. Before you know it you're post birthday celebrations on your way home with a car packed with new toys. You're walking down the aisle grabbing "$1 toys" as a quick fix for whatever melt down might be taking place. You're 'expected' to have an entire room of your home DEDICATED solely to toys. Toys will fix everything. Or at least that's what advertisements and marketing lead you to believe.
Moving into our little brick ranch was the best thing to ever happen to me. There's no room for excess here. We have to utilize the spaces we have with practicality. Toys and things are now purchased with strict guidelines. You want to know the best part about minimalism? My children THRIVE in it. Having an almost empty room, besides necessities, has not only helped me personally, but they no longer have the burden of relentless nagging to clean up their room. It's a win-win for all of us.
If you'r'e stuck in the never ending predicament of consumption, I urge you to implement a few things from the list below and take note at how it drastically improves your overall mental state and life. Living to create memories, and appreciating one another, not things, is what my journey to minimalism has ultimately allowed me to do. Having a supportive spouse, making sure we're always on the same page when it comes to needs vs wants, is an absolute game changer.
Five ways we changed our way of life and stuck with the 'less is more' motto.
- Get everyone on board. Instead of excessive gift giving for birthdays or celebrations, give family members an alternative. Invest the money you were going to spend on a toy and give a gift of memories instead. For example, movie tickets, a trip to the zoo, or a night of bowling. Everyone can tag along for the fun!
- Stop instant gratification purchases. Just because it's in the dollar section, doesn't mean it's worth spending a dollar on. Not only do $1 purchases add up (hello four children), you almost always have to throw whatever it is away, or it will just end up getting lost in your car (#momlife). Instead of rewarding children with cheap disposable toys, take them out for an ice dream cone at Chick fil a and talk about the favorite part of your day!
- Weigh the pros vs. cons on usage. Whenever a toy purchase is up for discussion ask yourself the following question, "How many times a week will this be played with?" If something doesn't get daily use at our house, it's deemed unnecessary. (Something we will spend money on is interactive items like family games.)
- Money Saver. Add up the money you would be spending on Christmas, or birthdays, throughout the year, and instead devote that money to a family vacation. This goes along with instant gratification. Your children are of course thrilled to open never ending wrapped gifts, but the excitement is short lived. They're not going to look back and say "Hey! Remember that time I opened up that action figure?" BUT they will say (my children for example) "Hey! Remember when we ate breakfast with Mickey Mouse and his friends?" "Hey! Remember when we rode our first roller coaster together?" or "I loved that one time when we walked along the beach collecting seashells together!"
- Splurge when necessary. I can absolutely justify spending money on higher priced items that I know my children will actually enjoy. Since we tend to spend a majority of our time outdoors, we will splurge on outdoors toys almost without second thought. For example, bikes, scooters, chalk, bubbles, tarps for slip and slides, etc.
I hope this post was encouraging, and if it's speaking directly to you, has helped give you the extra push you need to start enjoying your life more! There's no reason to be weighed down by toys and clutter. Before you know it, you will be selling all those toys when your babies are long gone. Do yourself a favor now, and start enjoying them and devoting all your energy to creating memories and leaving the 'stuff' behind you.
*If you're currently struggling to get this point across, feel free to give a subtle hint and share this post. ;)