receiving gifts from others

September 29, 2008

an interesting conversation occurred with my wife last night when she informed that a good family friend of ours had offered to give our 2-year old daughter a large box of hand-me-down toys that her daughter had outgrown. included in the collection is a large-wooden dollhouse. my wife was interested to see how i would respond based on our decision to become minimalist.

as i began to think through what it would mean to bring in a large number of toys, i had a number of questions for my wife.

  1. are the toys something that our daughter will enjoy playing? easy answer – yes. she absolutely loves dolls! that’s her thing – playing with dolls. i can picture the joy on her face already of having a dollhouse to put them in. shame on me if my quest to become minimalist would rob her of that joy.
  2. are the toys something that the other family wants to use to bless our family or just get out of their own house? we all know the family that graciously offers to give you their old treadmill or foosball table – not for the sake of blessing, but for the sake of removing the clutter from their own house. my wife assured me that they were genuinely hoping to bless our family – even to the point that the daughter ran up to her excitedly to tell about the toys that she had picked out for us.
  3. do we have toys that we can remove from our daughter’s current collection to make room for the new ones? absolutely! there are many toys in the toy room that my little girl has outgrown or no longer has an interest in. we will sort out some of those toys and remove them to make room for the new ones.

i can’t wait to see the joy on my daughter’s face when the new dollhouse appears in our toyroom! and i am very grateful for the wonderful family whose generosity will bring her that joy. thank you.

related posts:

cheap toys for young children

September 26, 2008

simple mom reminds us all that the newest, flashiest, and most expensive toys on the market are not necessarily the best.  in a recent post, she offered 11 cheap (and free!) toys for young children.  including:

  • egg cartons
  • chalk
  • empty food containers
  • crayons and paper

i found this post significantly timely as i just put away some of my son’s birthday presents that he hasn’t opened yet.  his birthday was in august.  even though he received a number of flashy toys with colorful (and expensive) packaging, he seems to be most content with a baseball bat and ball.  when will we parents ever learn?

minimalism and children

July 26, 2008

reader caron recently asked:

“how do your children feel about living the minimalist lifestyle?”

my simple answer is “very well. better than i expected. and better than their parents in many regards.”

to give you a little background, my son is 5 and my daughter is 2. my daughter has had little input in our minimalizing, but we have worked hard to include my son in the process. we feel that it is important for him to understand what is happening and feel included in the process. wefirst noticed his better-than-expected attitude when we minimalized his bedroom. he loves reading and we were dreading the process of going through his books. but we were shocked when he pulled out far more books to sell at our garage sale than we envisioned. next, he picked out more stuffed animals than we had pictured. thirdly, he cared little about his clothing and didn’t object at all to removing the things from his dresser top. after his bedroom came the big test when we moved downstairs to his toys. again, we were surprised that he had little hesitation in getting rid of many toys that he no longer uses. i even wrote about it here.

the only hiccup that we have encountered was when we removed the toys from our living room and moved them downstairs in the newly formed toy room. as a compromise, we decided to keep some of his books on a shelf in the living room and reminded him that he could still play toys in that room – he just had to return them to their new home downstairs when he is done.

the thoughtful question from caron has caused me to ask the follow-up question: “why exactly has it gone so well? why has my son adjusted so much quicker than his parents?” and i think there are a number of reasons.

  1. he didn’t pay for the things that we’re discarding.
  2. he’s still got more stuff than he could possibly use in one day.
  3. his security is not found in his possessions. his security is found in his stable family.
  4. his memories are not wrapped up in his possessions but in the people he loves.
  5. he doesn’t look for joy in his possessions. he finds it in living life to the fullest.

which makes me think that we’ve all got a lot to learn from 5 year olds.

related posts: benfit #2 – the example for your kids, operation: basement, day 1