So Much Stuff

Recently we moved.  In many ways moving is no fun.  But there is a silver lining – it is the perfect time to declutter, trash the trash and just reduce the overall amount of Stuff.  The amount of garbage bags of trash I was able to get rid of was amazing (and embarrassing).

I am now unpacking in the new house.  As I am filling the cabinets and closets I realize how nice it is to not have so much stuff shoved in every crack and crevice.  Without all of the stuff the house I have been able to keep the house fairly clean.  Mind you we have 5 kids, clean is a relative term.

Seriously though, without all of the stuff everyone’s room stays picked up.  Everything has its own place.  It has been great.

This is my dilemma: Christmas is coming…

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas.  I love Advent, and the celebration as we prepare for Christmas.  I love everything about Christmas – even the anticipation of opening gifts on Christmas morning.  I am just not excited about more stuff, which was exactly why I was so excited to find Nourishing Minimalism’s this list of non-toy gifts.

I will absolutely be looking to this list for ideas in the next few months.  Take a look at these great ideas.

18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children

  1. Classes. Music, dance, riding, drawing, classes are a great way to encourage children in their interests and let them know that you pay attention to them and what they enjoy.
  2. Memberships. Zoo, science museum, children’s museum, YMCA membership, etc. These are particularly great for family gifts! Many young families want to enjoy day outings, but affording them can be a challenge, so give them the gift of a yearly membership.
  3. Subscriptions. Kids enjoy getting things int he mail. Why not encourage their reading by getting them a magazine subscription for something they are interested in!
  4. Events. Movie tickets, tickets to a play, concert or sports event are really exciting! Having an event to look forward to makes the rest of life more enjoyable.
  5. Activities. Mini golf, bowling, skating rink. These are so much fun! And a big part of the fun is going together. Children love spending time with the adults in their lives, they want to see you enjoying your time as well as enjoying them.
  6. Recipe and Ingredients. Kids love cooking with their parents. Baking something special or cooking dinner is an ideal time to spend together and learn life skills. Print out a recipe, purchase all the ingredients and set a date for cooking together.
  7. Crafting Date. Our daughter loves making crafts. I do to, I really do enjoy the creative aspect. But I rarely take time out to do it with her. These crafting dates mean the world to our creative little girl. Keep a basket of craft supplies and get out a book for inspiration. We like this book.
  8. Arts and Craft supplies. If your craft box is running low, stock up a little on things you need. Add in something fun the kids haven’t used before. A gift of art and craft supplies often brings on the imagination and kids can’t wait to get to work!
  9. Coupons. An envelope of coupons that they can “spend” at any time: I’ll do one chore- no questions asked, movie and popcorn night, you pick the movie!, 1:1 game of cards or basketball (whatever the child’s interest is in), sit and read a book with me, Stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime
  10. Restaurant Gift Card. Dinner, ice cream, coffee, cupcake- whatever suits their fancy! Give them the freedom of inviting whoever they wish: it may be mom or dad, it may be a grandparent, aunt or even teacher that they would like to spend more time with.
  11. Dress Up Clothes. These do need to be limited, but  2 dresses and couple play silks can get hours and hours of play!
  12. Books. We get a lot of books from the library, but there are some that I just can’t find there, or it takes us longer to read through. We have read through the entire Little House series, Narnia and are working our way through Shel Silverstein’s books. Be sure to pass the books on when you are done, so they don’t clutter up your home.
  13. Clothes. When kids only have a certain amount of clothes, they often enjoy getting clothes. Make it a point to get something that fits their style. That may mean western clothes, super-hero, fancy dresses, etc.
  14. Snacks. If your child is a foodie, they will love this! Some homemade granola or cookies made just for them, is a special treat!
  15. Outdoor Supplies. If you are an outdoorsy family, giving kids their own fishing tackle or gardening equipment can be a big deal. It’s also something that gets left on the shelf in the garage, so you always know right where to find it.
  16. Telling Time. The average child these days doesn’t know how to read analog, or finds it takes too long to think about it, so they search for a digital watch. Getting them a cool watch makes them want to be able to tell time on it. Boys, girls, and even teenagers can be excited about this.
  17. Games and Puzzles. Games and puzzles are great activities for when kids have to be indoors. It’s a good practice to have individual quiet times during the day, and having a puzzle to sit and work on by themselves helps brain development and problem solving skills. Games teach a lot too! My kids talk about how they passed geography, just because we played Risk when they were little. Monopoly and PayDay have been popular and help cement math skills. Memory games are great for younger children.
  18. Calendar. Many children like to know what is going on, what day it is, how many days until ____. These kids are the ones that want to know what the plan is for the day, in what order things will happen, what time friends are expected over, etc. They struggle with spur-of-the-moment and can be frustrating if you are a spontaneous parent. But celebrate it! These children have many strengths and make our world run smoother. :-)  Embrace their inner schedule and get them their own calendar. They can write down their own classes, appointments, play dates, etc. And if they ask you, send them to their calendar so they can get used to being in control of their own schedule. You can even schedule “spontaneous days”, so they know that something different will happen that day. Trust me, it will help them enjoy the spontaneous outings!

 

 

It’s A Family Tradition

Just in case you have not noticed…  Thanksgiving is next week!  Are you ready?

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays.  Christmas is awesome as well for some of the very same reasons, but Thanksgiving is special.  Thanksgiving is an opportunity to spend time with your family, celebrate your friends and loved ones, and most importantly be thankful for everything you have – without presents.

We are a very consumer driven, materialistic society.  I often find myself overwhelmed by this need for stuff at this time of year.  I am especially overwhelmed by the tendency to over schedule in an attempt to “celebrate”.  This is very ironic to me considering most people, if asked, will say their most important priority is spending time with family, friends and loved ones, which shouldn’t require much scheduling (unless you live far away) and definitely does not require gifts.

But then I think back to my own childhood.  In the midst of the holiday rush I have some very distinct memories of Thanksgiving holidays.  I have very fond memories of activities my family did together year after year.   On Thanksgiving morning we always watched the Macy’s Day Parade.  It is kind of funny though, because as a child the parade was not necessarily my favorite event, it was just the best thing on television prior to football.  But now as an adult the parade brings to me joyful memories of sitting in my grandfather’s huge Lazy-Boy recliner watching the parade as the adults prepared food in the kitchen.

And then I have some memorable moments, that fortunately only happened once, like the year my grandfather had excuse himself from Thanksgiving Dinner in order to bail my cousin out of jail for driving too fast through the little, one stoplight, South Georgia town where he lived.  And while this sounds awful, it wasn’t nearly as bad in my mind as the time I accidentally bit into a big fat slimy oyster hidden inside of the cornbread dressing.

And now that I have my own family we have created some traditions of our own.  We like to use our time together the weekend after Thanksgiving to drive up the mountain to search for and cut down our Christmas tree.  We also make little cookies the kids call Pilgrim Hats, which are something we HAVE to make.  I put them off one year and didn’t get it done before Thanksgiving.  Guess what we were making the first weekend in December…

So in all, I suppose every little detail really is important.  You really never know exactly what your next family tradition will be and what it is that your children will value as they grow older.  But it sure would help if we could figure it out so that we could skip some of the other stuff that needlessly fills up our calendars.