One day last year my sister-in-law and I were talking about my desire to reduce clutter, and she said something that has stuck with me since. She said that she never looks at a price tag when buying something. 50% off of a t-shirt won’t make her buy the t-shirt. A hefty price tag won’t stop her from buying the t-shirt. She only purchases things that have true value to her, and never buys something simply because it’s on sale or a great deal. And in the same regard, if she finds the perfect t-shirt, she will buy it regardless of price.
It is a concept that I’ve employed over the last few months, and wow has my buying process changed. I find that I’m buying much less, but what I buy is quality. I think of my mom’s closet growing up. She didn’t have a ton of clothes, but every item seemed to fit her perfectly.
My kids received a few gifts from us for Christmas, and I’m proud that we didn’t fall too deeply into the shopping rush. What did they get? Santa brought them a giant Mickey and Minnie and a Frozen boombox/Olaf stuffed animal to go with Frozen on Ice tickets. We bought them a few small things: Christmas pajamas, a magnetic puzzle, a set of lacing cards, Play-Doh, and Duplos. For their big gifts Raffi got a space themed sleeping bag and Ali got a super cute Corolle doll that goes in the bathtub.
Now it seems like way too much. At the time I made a little board with images of the gifts so that I could remind myself that it was a LOT and they didn’t need more. It was hard sticking with my list when I saw everyone around me buying their kids oodles of junk.
With my mindset now I would have only gotten them the tickets, pajamas, sleeping bag and doll. Maybe also the Duplos and Play-Doh because they both get played with daily. I had purchased everything else before my buying thought process had truly changed.
Now that I’ve made this huge change in my life, I’m looking to de-clutter in a serious way. My kids don’t have that many toys, but they still have way too many. I kept a lot of Christmas gifts they received out of guilt, but I think I’m going to head to the store to return them. I’ll let the kids pick out books, puzzles, or craft supplies instead. I don’t think you can ever have too many of those three things. We did that last year with gifts and it worked out well.
I don’t buy junky light up plastic toys, so I don’t know why we keep them when we get them as gifts. They never keep my kids’ attention, and they always take up too much space. I feel the same way about stuffed animals. Dolls and puppets I love, stuffed animals that shed everywhere? No grazie.
My son has about 10 pairs of pants that will never fit him right that I just haven’t gotten around to sorting and donating. Why? What am I afraid of? He doesn’t wear the pants anyway and they just sit there taking up space in his bureau.
My own closet needs an overhaul, but that needs to wait for a day I’m not pregnant or nursing. When I know where my body will settle I can decide what to keep and what to donate.
Some of the change in my outlook has to do with having this 3rd baby. I need to be practical in order to make room for another human in our home. The rest of the change has to do with our happiness. Stuff doesn’t bring us happiness, and in fact it does the opposite. Cleaning up a messy house full of stuff stresses me out. If we don’t have the stuff to junk it up, we won’t have to waste precious time cleaning it up. We also take care of our things better when we don’t have so much to take care of.
I’ve made a lot of changes in the way I think about *stuff* in the last year, but this year I’m looking to explore the concept further. All the Made in China crap is unnecessary. The CVS toy aisle is unnecessary. The dollar store junk is, well, we love our dollar store junk. We usually buy stickers and glow sticks, and we use them for fun projects. So those items will stay. I can’t go too crazy….
I just added a bunch of blogs to my reader and books to my kindle to inspire me in this department. Here they are:
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/ (blog and books)
http://lauravanderkam.com/books/all-the-money-in-the-world/ (blog and books)
Thoughts? Do you work to de-clutter your life? Do you buy something because it’s on sale even if it’s not perfect?
Our kids don’t get too much screen time, but when they do use iPads it is largely without parental supervision. I am inclined to not mind when Raffi asks to play one of the iPad games, since some of them are educational and I limit the time/day to around 15 minutes. However, inevitably he will hit up YouTube and start clicking around, watching video after video until his eyes rot or I realize it’s been 15 minutes times 3. Whoops.
As an aside, this pregnancy has been kicking my butt and I’ve done a lot of things I swore I would never do as a mom. For an example see above.
YouTube Kids launched yesterday, and while my kids haven’t seen it yet, I clicked around to check it out.
Verdict? IT’S AWESOME!
Here’s what I love about it so far, before my kids have even tried it:
1. Only adults have access to the settings. You have to enter a passcode that is written like this (ONE ONE TWO SIX) so only a child that can read the numbers and then punch them in can access the settings.
2. It has a timer that is really easy to set. The app will lock down when time is up. I love this feature since my kids only really use iPads when I *really* need them to sit still and can’t quite pay attention to them, like at my own doctors’ appointments or in the 2 hour line at the DMV… or when I’m frying breaded chicken and need them to absolutely positively stay out of the kitchen. The 15 minutes I mentally allot for screen time doubles and triples if I don’t set my phone alarm to remind me, so I like this built in feature.
3. It’s easy for children to navigate, with big buttons and instant full screen.
4. It only displays kid-appropriate channels and playlists. Love that.
Check it out!
PS- I feel the need to counteract this app download by rereading this article on Blocks, Play, Screen Time and The Infant Mind. it’s a good read.