Parenting and Minimalism

September 9, 2016

Parenting and Minimalism

The following is a guest post from Tara Bosler. Tara is a professional writer, freelance blogger, and regularly caffeinated mom. She writes about parenting, being a mompreneur, and saving and stretching dollars. You can find some of her freelance clips and blog at www.tboslerwriting.com.

It can be tough to be a minimalist in a consumer-driven culture. When everyone is buying new clothes, and you are satisfied with the few wardrobe staples you invested in years ago. When everyone around you is shopping like crazy at Christmastime, and all you want for the holiday is a nice meal with your family.

Of course, it’s one thing to be a self-identified minimalist; it’s quite another to be a minimalist mother raising a child in this “gimme” society.

As much as I have tried to create a minimalist household, especially as I raise my daughter, it is an ongoing struggle. We don’t buy a lot of toys. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a ton. People give us toys; we find great deals on yard sale sites, and it seems as though grandparents live for the chance to buy yet another toy.

We are beyond grateful for the generosity of those around us. We are incredibly blessed by the people in our lives that give so thoughtfully.

However, as a result, and in conjunction with our consumer culture, it is more and more difficult to teach my daughter to value simplicity. So I have to be even more intentional about it.

My daughter is three years old. She loves toys. Culture or not, I’m pretty sure all kids just like to be entertained. (Don’t we all?)

But even after reading several Berenstain Bears books covering the topic (Count Your Blessings, Trouble with Money, etc.), she still gets into phases when she talks at length about the toys that she wants.

But recently I came up with a long-term solution.

Instilling a Sense of Contentment

After explaining the importance of being grateful for what we already have, each time she starts talking excessively about which toys she wants or “wishes” she had, we name three toys that she already has and loves.

Here’s my basic script:

Daughter: “I saw a new Baby Alive, and she crawls and really eats!”
Mom: “Oh, that sounds cool!”
Daughter: “Yeah, I wish I had it. I really wish I had it because it’s such a cool baby doll that does real things.”
Mom: “But you have baby dolls already.”
Daughter: “But I really wish I had that one. And there’s one that comes with diapers too. I wish I had that one, too.”
Mom: “What are three toys that you have at home that you already love to play with?”

Usually, Daughter will pause and remember the long conversation (well, long for a toddler) about being grateful for what we have. And then responds with something along the lines of:

Daughter: “My cash register, my paints, and my Barbies.”

And every time that’s where that conversation stops. No more talk of the toys she doesn’t have. No more lamenting over what isn’t in her playroom. No more asking to start birthday and Christmas lists six months out.

Eventually, I am hoping this exercise will become less necessary as she starts getting used to switching her mindset from “want, want, want” to gratitude and simplicity. But until YouTube stops posting toy unboxing videos and Target eliminates their toy department, I may have my work cut out for me!

Do your kids’ “gimmes” counter your desire for minimalism? What do you do to instill a sense of contentment and gratitude in your children?