The conundrum of cleaning up and giving away or donating your children’s previous ‘favourite’ toys, books, items and gadgets seems to be a continuous battle for me. Whenever I ask my ask my daughter – and that is my downfall there – if we can give away/ donate a few of her things that she doesn’t seem to play with/ use anymore, it is always met with a “Why? I like them and still play/ use them, especially when my friends come over for a playdate ….” At times, I wish a ‘clean-up fairy’ existed who would come along like a thief in the night to re-purpose some of my daughter’s things to make my job a little easier!
On the other hand, it may not be easier because then I have to explain why those items have suddenly disappeared! There lies the conundrum! As her parents, we try not to buy our daughter a lot of ‘things’ and have explained to her that we would prefer to provide her with experiences instead – especially when it comes to gifts for her birthday, Christmas and any other special occasions. As a result, the experiences we’ve shared with our daughter in the last couple of years include going to musicals, ballet, plays and taking short trips rather than buying an item. On some occasions, there may have been a gift as well as an experience but as my daughter is getting older, we’re trying to reduce the amount of ‘things’. After all when you think about it, as your child’s parent, you will always be their favourite ‘toy’ because as most parents know – you will always be finding ways to amuse, play and laugh with your children.
It is a constant battle when children are exposed to different things growing up, seeing the different things their friends, cousins and peers have but I feel that if I explain to my daughter in order to help her understand being grateful for what she has – not lament what she doesn’t have – then it helps her to rethink if she really needs those ‘things’. It also helps abolish the mindset of “keeping up with the Jones'”. I grew up with very little and sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that I should provide my daughter with the things I didn’t have when I was growing up. I realise though, that your child does eventually grow out of or becomes bored of the ‘things’. I feel when you provide experiences (big or small), they will remember the feelings associated with that and cherish the memories. Things can be donated and given away but the memories will always remain.
I read something posted by Educate Inspire Change which I have shared below, that reminds and confirms what I feel. It also reminds me why I try to minimise our family’s ‘things’ and maximise our experiences. Although I try to reduce the amount of ‘things’ in our lives – there are still many to sort through and donate or give away.
Gifts received from family and friends, items that we have bought ourselves – while all wonderful, sometimes I look at them and feel like giving them all away! The thought of “do we really need this much stuff?” comes into my head when the clutter begins to feel a little suffocating. On the other hand, even if there was a thief in the night who came and took some or all of our things – I realise there are some ‘things’ that can never be replaced! I’m in two minds here; there are sentimental reasons why we have a sense of attachment to certain items and that is fine but I also realise when we leave this world, we can’t take any possessions with us. They won’t serve any purpose to us when we are no longer around. That is why I’ve realised it is best to enjoy the moment, provide joy to others if and when you can. Just laugh, love and live! In the end, it’s the memories you leave behind that will really matter. Life….what a conundrum in itself! I’d like to end off on a humorous note, I saw this meme on Facebook and it sums things up perfectly…unless you would like to be remembered for an expensive couch and great shoes!