This time of year is always a little tricky. It’s a season of excess and indulgence. The one time of the year when all rules go out the window and children are spoiled to within an inch of their lives. And that’s not always a bad thing. However when you are trying to teach your children the value of possessions, the need for gratitude and the importance of reducing waste, well, it can be difficult to navigate.
I don’t know about you, but I for one do not want to raise children who are entitled, selfish and who are always asking for MORE! I think we probably all remember Christmasses gone by, when we were young, how we would get one or maybe two gifts and we would be absolutely thrilled. These days, there is just so much stuff! Thinking of one of my own daughters, her Christmas list was more than many children in other parts of the world would ever dream to own.
Not to mention the environmental impact that this all has. Fast fashion and plastic toys are doing so much harm to our world and contributing to climate change. I am trying to be more mindful of how much our family uses vs how much we actually need.
So while I don’t mind indulging my children from time to time, it’s good to have some ways to counteract the excess that this time of year brings.
Methods that have helped me in the past:
- Saving half of their presents. We do this for birthdays too. There are always too many things for them to enjoy at once, so if you put some of them away, you can periodically let your child choose an item throughout the year. It’s great fun!
- Speaking with them about "stuff". When your child is old enough to have that conversation, it can be really helpful to speak with them about how fortunate they are. Explaining to them that not all children in the world have the things they do can help them to understand their privilege. You can also discuss ways of giving back, whether that is by doing a shoebox appeal or by sponsoring a child.
- Buying second hand. I’ve always been a huge supporter of buying second hand where possible. This massively reduces waste and encourages you to buy things that otherwise might end up in a landfill. From toys to clothes to children’s items, there is a wealth of preloved treasures out there. Adverts, Facebook Marketplace and Donedeal are all great places to look. There’s also a new Irish website called Kindora where you can buy or rent preloved premium children’s items.
- Value of time. Not always rewarding your children with "stuff" is a great habit to get into. To be honest, children crave your time more than they crave stuff. So instead of getting them a treat or a present as an end of the week reward, why not suggest some fun one on one activities you can do. Even something as simple as making homemade hot chocolate together and chatting about their week can be a really special memory for them.
How will you reduce the amount of "stuff" coming into your home this year?