Evan (3YOA): Minimalist in Training
This is probably the second most asked about subject after my closet. First let me say, it is possible. And the sooner you start shifting focus away from the material things onto experiences, the easier (I suspect). I don’t have a teenager, but I was one once so I can imagine it would be a bit more challenging to do this transition with them, than a 3 year old.
We really underestimate our kids. Evan already has this innate desire for happiness and wants everyone to feel it. He already values love and experiences over the stuff. He is very empathetic. I’m quite impressed and so very proud of him. Everyday.
Now, that being said, I’m not going to deny my child toys. I just want to instill in him a sense of gratitude and joyful contribution over accumulation. Usually, after Christmas or his birthday (or any time his toy box starts to get full), I open it up and say: “You just got some really nice toys. There are a lot of kids who don’t have toys. What should we give them that you don’t play with anymore?”
Honestly, he gives-a lot-freely and effortlessly. When he got his bike for Christmas he willingly donated his tricycle (previously, the love of his life-and it was second-hand.). Again I let this be his choice. I never give any of his things away without his approval.
Anytime there is a charity drive, I let him be apart of the giving. Recently we just donated underpants and PJs to the local foster child organization. He went with me to shop and select the items and helped me deliver them to the drop-off location. Every year we do Operation Christmas Child together. We go to the Dollar Tree and he picks the toys for the kids and we pack those shoeboxes tight!
Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist has a family and I’ve found his website to be quite helpful. Anytime I get stumped, I go there for reference. So far, so good. I think Evan is better at this than me!
Strategy: The Baby Toy/Equipment Rotation
I used this technique before becoming a Minimalist. It was birthed (haha) more out of a financial strategy.
Babies grow out of the clothes and toys very quickly. Hand me downs are awesome, but my friends and I also started what I referred to as a toy rotation. We all had kids at different times within a 5 year span so instead of buying the big ticket baby items individually, we shared. We shared the swing, travel system-car seat-stroller thing, and of course toys (i.e. floor gyms, bouncys). When one kid grew out of them (typically within 3 months), another was usually born. This solved 2 problems:
- Money-No joke, we probably saved a couple thousand dollars.
- Space-We cleared space in our own homes until it was time to use, or re-use in their case, certain items. Nobody had to house or store a big huge baby swing for more than 3 months.
Strategy: Kid Artwork
My personal strategy is to digitize the important pieces that you really like and recycle the rest. The only pieces I keep in hard copy form are those that include hand and foot prints (for size reference).