Finding Simple When You Have Kids
I am going to start this post with a bit of raw honesty. I am a hypocrite.
The last few days have been, well, interesting. Instead of skiing away New Year’s, sledding in the new snow, or celebrating with friends, we’ve been inside the house for three days straight.
The flu has been passing through the kids, and as usual I’ve taken my extra time indoors to address our household.
And so yesterday I found myself in a most disconcerting situation. Sitting cross-legged in the kid’s room staring at piles of toys and clothing and thinking, “We are what is wrong with America.”
Every week we champion the importance of the outdoors and being good stewards of our world and our belongings, yet we sit in heaps of stuff all hoarded away like an angry dragon. I like posts from the Conservation Alliance and do my duty to tag our outdoor photos with #protectourwinters yet I have fallen into the trap to buying, using, and disposing of goods at will without thought to the long range effects of my consumptive habits. Most date nights, Chris and I dream about living in a tiny house, yet we’d need five of them just to house our stuff!
And so, in that way I am a hypocrite.
I am also a hypocrite because days ago I shared my “word for 2015′, claiming I never set resolutions, and yet here I am… setting a New Year’s resolution. A few of them in fact.
Making Realistic Changes
I never knew how much stuff is involved in being a parent until I was one. Kids have some magical vortex around them that sucks crap into the house, into the closets, and under the beds! I am not kidding! No matter how simple we want to live, I feel like the tide of my three kids is always dragging us out to the proverbial sea.
And so I want to be purposeful and set realistic goals for our family this year:
1. Buy used when possible.
Why do we think we need new THINGS? Patagonia has an awesome campaign going called Worn Wear, championing the use of used clothing. They have also written many articles on the waste associated with the production of clothing and outdoor gear.
And while I cannot stop my kids from needing bigger jackets, better shoes, winter boots, and longer pants, I can stop them from needing new ones. There is a hole host of amazing outdoor gear and clothing found at local consignment stores, thrift stores, and swaps.
I can choose to repair that backpack instead of replacing it. I can toss a little duck tape on that organizer instead of purchasing a new one. When I go to Outdoor Retailer and see next season’s newest outdoor products, I can choose to be thankful for what I have and decide it is enough. I don’t need new. Happiness isn’t found there.
2. Just say “no” to toys.
Do I sound like Scrooge? After literally tossing an entire trash bag of toys (many purchased this last year) into the giveaway pile, I have lost any fond feeling I had for the toy aisle.
Toys we keep or purchase will fall into these categories:
1. Something to build with (Legos, blocks).
2. Something to create with (crafts).
3. Something to make-believe with (Dress up clothes).
4. Something to help you learn (books).
3. Let it go.
We will choose to pass on our extras to someone who can use them, instead of harbor them for “just in case” moments. The obvious exception to this is hand-me-downs amongst our kids.
I am hoping, with a little bit of intentionality, to live more simply, want less, and need less. To live as though we really believe that stuff won’t make us happier.
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