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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

De-cluttering, toys, christmas and simplicity.


Kids toys...I am not entirely sure how they seem to expand and multiply when we are sleeping but they do!

A few "hand-me downs" are kindly gifted, a birthday passes, a grandparent sees something they think a child might like and before you know it the toys are falling off the shelves...again!

Over the years, I have developed a system that works really well for us.  Eventually Grant got on board too.  He has Bower bird tendancies.  ;)

I'm a big believer in including kids where possible, though there are times I de-clutter a little as I’m tiding, but only things I know are broken or rubbish.  I strongly believe this is their home, they are their toys and belongings and they need to have autonomy over their own things I believe if they are going to grow into adults who respect and care for their possessions. 

This is Will's own little succulant patch.  He loves them.  I take cuttings for him when I see new ones out and about, and he does too.  He then plants them up and sells them to us and visitors, budding businessman!

Firstly, we are very matter of fact about life in this house.  We have explained their privilege to them, and continue to teach them about this.  We educate them about other countries, about our own country.  We have shown them pictures of how other families live and we try and help them develop the natural empathy, kindness and love for others that children innately poses.  Not in a way that guilt's them, but instead we use it as a tool to empower them to see how they can help children like them, who are not as lucky as we are.  To show them they can make a difference, even though they are small.  We make it a celebratory time.  I talk about how happy another child will be to receive such a special toy, how happy a parent will be to be able to find good toys for their children and how the money that is raised will go to buying Christmas hampers and so forth. 

The tree is up - but alas its not "real" due to a house full of people terribly allergic to pine trees!

We talk about keeping only what we use and really love.  That way it makes cleaning up faster, and we are happier as we get to do more fun things together.  I re-assure them that I will never throw out or donate something they love of they say "no".  I respect that this is their home. 

 And you know what?  They truly get it.  We go through everything and pick it up and ask if we can donate it.  We chat about if they want to pick it up, if they want it taking up the limited space on the shelves, if they still actually play with it or if they have out-grown it and what it might look like. 

 This is not a conversation we have twice a year, its simply how our family approaches "stuff" in an everyday and ordinary manner.  We focus on what we have, what we love and what we truly want in our house.  After that, the rest is generally easy to let go.

I think if we want to grow mindful adults, we need to challenge and grow mindful children.  In a time where child hood and parenting is made into such a complex situation, I find it helpful to simply step out of all the hype, the "must haves" the parenting experts and just chill.  These days when everything is measured and critiqued, "educational" and getting ahead is pushed and shoved down our throats.   

When we focus on the benefits of donating and how great the kids are doing - it makes the entire process pretty easy.  I have a folder for paintings and special things.  But fortunately the boys are pretty good at letting stuff go.  I don’t think it is an accident they are.  We have worked hard to build consistent and persistent attitudes around this subject. 

That’s the key to most parenting problems with very young children isn’t it?  Consistency and persistency.  In whatever form it takes that aligns with your parenting style. 

The toy situation in the western world is not now nor has it ever actually been about the development of the child, its generally about a company’s bottom line.  Toy companies work hard to get us to depend on their "knowledge" and products.

Here is a little story for you - I’m on a tangent but bare with me. 

I was walking in Big W the other day to buy a new washing basket.  I generally avoid the shops at all costs.  But mine was well and truly broken and ran a risk of snagging my clothes.  So off I toddled, annoyed that "nothing lasts these days".   I was walking to the isle and I heard a group of three middle aged adults taking about the "washing machine specialist" who had advised them that the "ONLY" good washing powder to use was a particular expensive brand.  I was highly amused and saddened at the same time. 

This "specialist" is not a true specialist.  He was not someone who built and repaired washing machines, who cared about maintaining a good working machine.  It was a salesman, who sold new washing machines who most likely worked in affiliation with said expensive brand washing powder.

Companies name these people "specialists" as if to raise them up above us.  To make us believe that they must know better then we do, and when did the turn of phrase "specialist" begin getting applied to salesmen?  I always thought a specialist was someone highly trained, highly experienced in a field.  You know, like a brain surgeon or something like that.     

And another thing, when did the simple task of washing clothes become so "complex" and expensive that we need a "specialist" to teach us how to do it "right'?!  Pfffft.....What a load of absolute rubbish.

But that is the power of marketing and consumerism.  These three smart people had been brain washed by the system.  Then I got sad.  Sad that this kind of information is rife today.  Sad that parents get told similar lies about products they "need" for their children, sad that so many people buy into it unknowingly and it brings them nothing but financial strain, anxiety, stress and a feeling of in-adequacy. 

So, as we approach this season of excess.  Let’s look around, lets donate good quality children’s toys in time for Christmas for those that have less.  Let’s be mindful about the items we bring into our lives, into our homes and the message they send our children.  Lets give less"stuff" and give more of ourselves.  Let’s be confident in our skills and that our children more than likely have "enough" just as it is.  They are always watching and learning from our behaviour. 

Hanging out at the beach.  We hope to be present during the Chistmas holidays, that these will be the memories that shape our children when they remember Christmas. 

Grant and I have decided not to give each other Christmas presents, and that has been the case for most of the year.  There is truly nothing we want, what a blessed life we have.  In our run down little old ramshackle cottage.  Our gift in this season is love, presence and mindfulness.  That to me is the true spirit of Christmas. 

Much Love,
Emma
xx








20 comments:

  1. What a fabulous post Emma!! Toys are definitely the bane of my existence, and it's made all the more difficult by 'well-meaning' people who gift my children countless things. Recently my youngest(3yrs) and I were in a local op shop, donating as well as looking for a few bargains, and DS expressed an interest in the 20cent box of toys, mostly Maccas rubbish. I patiently explained that we didn't need anymore toys and that he should leave them for another boy who might like them. He was happy with that, but then as we went to leave the lady at the counter insisted that he take a toy at no charge. I politely refused, but again she insisted.
    Unfortunately we walked away with a plastic shovel, we have PLENTY of 'real' shovels my kids use, and a squeaky crocodile toy...grrr.
    It really annoyed me that the salesperson undermined my authority as a parent. I don't want my children to grow up thinking that if they push hard enough they'll get what they want. I'll be stronger next time that's for sure...No thankyou means NO!
    So glad to see your boys are growing into thoughtful, compassionate human beings
    Cassandra xx

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    1. oh dear, its so hard isnt it? We have spent years talking about "crappy" toys, finally the boys understand thet they break almost instanty and they are happy not to get them. It will come!

      And its hard isnt it with the "no", but we are the ones who will have to deal with the fall out if they decided that "no" is actually a "maybe".

      xx

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  2. You wrote this beautifully and I enjoyed reading it! First of all, my husband and I don't give each other gifts. We don't have the same tastes, and when our kids were little there wasn't any extra money anyway. If you have children sitting around your table, who needs more gifts than that! You children are so good and they will grow up to be good, understanding and kind adults! Andrea

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    1. Yes, I agree! It just means more "stuff" to store and money spent with no purpose. I would prefer to take our old van away for a weekend down the beach. :)

      xx

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  3. Such wise words, Emma. A really lovely post. It's a wonderful moment when one can look at the life that is theirs and feel they have enough. I think there's real freedom in that. Meg:)

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  4. This is so timely for me!
    I need to try your ideas about de-cluttering, I think I've inherited a bit of my mums hoarding habits!
    -Kelly B

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    1. I used too! But slow and steady chances have helped me in regard to this. ill never be a true minimalist, but I have found a way that works for me. :)

      xx

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  5. I really only buy gifts for several family members. My niece prefers money now that she is older. This really irked me at first because I have always considered it rude to ask for money in lieu of a present. Then I got over it. My niece puts her gift money toward some item she is saving for - so she is learning to delay gratification and to exercise patience and persistence in working toward a goal. It also saves her mum having to buy the much wanted item for her. In the process she learns another great life lesson - self-reliance rather than relying on the bank of Mum.

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    1. giving money feels a bit "less" doesnt it? But i too am happy to do it these days. At least my gift is going to be used! I completly agree with you.

      xx

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  6. Lovely post, Emma. The whole Christmas marketing issue is quite out of hand these days. Thankfully I have some happy memories of Christmas in my childhood back in the 1950s when everything seemed to be so much more simple.

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  7. I am so in tune with you Emma. I too here similar conversations and it saddens me. The companies bottom line- so true!.
    Your family approach of letting people have a voice in the choice of what to keep or part with is so wise.
    A beautiful photo of a happy family at the beach. An experience over something bought. Magic!
    Christmas blessings to you and family. Thank you for writing a simple experience for me that I look forward to. You keep it real.

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    1. Thanks Jamie, we are messy and imperfect and often get it wrong but we give it a good go and thats all anyone can do. :)

      xx

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  8. i like blogs that keep it real & many of the simple living blogs are just that, real. a lovely post.
    my daughter got duped into buying a cheap washing machine & cheap fridge which didn't have the best energy saving on any of them & then the salesman also told her to wash in hot water to make sure the enzymes in the powder worked efficiently! what rot! & she fell for it! eldest & i tried to talk her into spending a bit more on ones that would save her money long term but she wasn't having any of it! plus it was an unknown brand that we had never heard of........ we tried.
    xmas time is mad for present shopping, not that we do much here, eldest daughter has been doing the secret santa where we only have one person to buy or make for, which is a relief. i only give money on their birthdays, not at xmas except for food when i stay.
    a wonderful xmas to you & your family
    thanx for sharing

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    1. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too! I think we all learn the hard way sometimes dont we about buying a "bargin"? I hope next time she has better luck!

      xx

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  9. "matter of fact about life" - I love it.

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  10. This could have been written by me. I am So fed up with the whole consumerism wheel that we're on right now and the amount of absolute bs that seems to be circulating, especially on social media. People fall for it every day and no matter how many times to you tell them it's all a hoax, no one seems to listen.
    I remember a girl I used to work with told a story about standing in line (at midnight!!) to buy a new PS (or similar) game for her son at the beginning of December. She then gave it to him, three weeks before Christmas! She was pretty annoyed at herself but admitted that she wanted to give her son more than she had ever had a kid despite growing up with all she could ever have wanted, including a pony.
    It's like we need to better the gift pile each year, rather than focusing on spending time together and enjoying the occasion.
    I have fabulous memories of Christmas and it's all about the people. I don't remember any of the gifts.
    I lost track of your blog for a while but I'm glad I found it again.

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  11. Wonderful post Emma. You know what a non-consumer I am, so your wise words are music to my ears.

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