“I’m not buying my kids one more dang toy!” I yell towards my husband as I shove a lightsaber into the play kitchen set/toy bin, “They don’t take care of them, they leave them all over the place, and every time we buy them something new they don’t care about it 48 hours later!” Sound familiar?
But then comes birthdays and holidays. I used to buy multiple gifts for my kids. Most of them are in a landfill somewhere along with the wrapping. So what’s the alternative? How can we participate in the joy of giving without filling our homes, our kids rooms and our loved ones homes with more junk?
After much research and experience, I’ve learned to stop buying useless presents. Now my husband and I gift everyone “experiences” instead of “things”.
Here are 3 reasons why you should NOT buy your kids another toy this Christmas!
Reason 1: Smarter Kids
Giving your kid an experiences instead of a physical gift can actually make them smarter! Dr. Margot Sunderland is one of my favorite child psychologist. She wrote the following for The Telegraph in 2017;
“What is less widely known is that vacations can also advance brain development in children,” she said. “This is because on a family vacation, you are exercising two genetically ingrained systems deep in the brain’s limbic area, which can all too easily be ‘unexercised’ in the home.”
“These are the PLAY system and the SEEKING system,” Sunderland continued, explaining that the brain’s PLAY system “is exercised every time you bury your child’s feet in the sand, tickle them on the pool lounger, or take them for a ride on your back. The SEEKING system is exercised each time you go exploring together: the forest, the beach, a hidden gem of a village.”
“So when you take your child on a vacation, you are supporting their explorative urge (SEEKING system) a vital resource for living life well, and their capacity to play (PLAY system),” she added. “In adulthood, this translates into the ability to play with ideas — essential, for example, to the successful entrepreneur.”
Reason 2: Happier Kids
Kids who have less toys and more life experiences are happier! And according to Cornell researchers, this happiness follows them into adulthood!
Thomas Gilovich who is a psychology professor at Cornell University, conducted gratitude studies for 30+ years. He undoubtably concluded that true happiness is derived from experiences rather than material goods. In fact, the more of a consumer you are, the less grateful / happy you become.
Reason 3: Closer Kids
Family experiences are the #1 favorite childhood memory. The happiness from a family trip together lasts so much longer than the joy of a toy! Going on a vacation together or just having an outing together brings us closer to our children, our children closer to each other and bonds the family together. Even when the trip is over, the memories and joy will last a lifetime.
So What am I Supposed to Give Instead of Toys?
I’ve stopped strolling the colorful toy aisles and filling my amazon cart with more trinkets! It’s time to give some clutter-free gifts!
Here are my 5 categories of “clutter-free” gifts. I have a whole article on this. Hope over to this article: Over 50 Clutter-Free Gift Ideas
But really quickly, I’ll give you a summary of my clutter free gift guide:
- Experiences: give tickets to an event like a play, concert, movie or sporting event!
- Classes: Any art, exercise, music or master class.
- Time: This includes services like, house cleaning, babysitting, yard service, oil change or just the good old fashioned date night!
- Memberships: This is the best one, gift a membership to the local zoo, museums, national parks, or theme parks!
- Consumables: I use this one all the time! It’s the easiest option. Give a desert, restaurant gift card, fruit basket, favorite snack, etc. This is what I get my kids for Christmas!
Don’t those sound like super fun options! They can be cheap or expensive depending on your budget, but they are all clutter-free and won’t end up in a landfill somewhere!
How Did I Become a Minimalism?
Here’s a little bit about my personal background. In 2015, my life was flipped upside down. I left my husband in the middle of the night. I grabbed my 2 yr old, my 2 week old and whatever I could pack into my little Nissan Murano. I drove 250 miles away to try to stay with family as I was a newly homeless single mom. Thus jumpstarted my “minimalism journey”. Through living in a small bedroom with my two kids, I learned that my kids and I only need the basics.
Fast forward 4 years. I am financially stable again and live in a 360 square foot renovated RV/Tiny House with my two kids. I’ve adopted a minimalist lifestyle and l’m happier with less. We travel monthly and have had some insanely wonderful experiences because of my blog!
You Can Adopt a Minimalist Year too!
Momma, I promise you, life is just as special with less presents BUT more presence with your family.
Don’t focus on the stress on the materials things in your child's life, let’s just focus on the memories.
Thanks for reading and have a magical 2020 with the ones you love most!
If you are interested here’s How to Become a Minimalist | 5 Steps for Success