Kids are rarely given the chance to be creative in a world with constant stimulation and entertainment. Living a simple life makes room for creativity. But simplicity is a hard goal — one that’s easier to talk about than to do!
One day, I noticed my kids sitting in a huge heap of toys in their playroom but not interacting or playing with any of them! I pulled together different toys from other areas of the house and added those to the pile, but their faces seemed to look more overwhelmed. There were too many options. Later that night I started to scroll through Amazon to look for toys that they would play with. I read through long lists of recommendations and tried to find the latest and greatest — they would love new toys for sure!
But they didn’t. At first, they played with the brand new toys, but soon they grabbed the Amazon Prime boxes and began coloring on the outsides, stacking them like blocks, and even made a fort with the bigger ones!
Ultimately, my kids were looking for a genuine, creative outlet! They had a desire to pretend!
It was in that moment I knew something needed to change. We did a huge overhaul of the toy room and only kept the toys that were simple and allowed room for creativity! I did not buy more toys to fill this need and decided to give more to my children by buying them less.
The toys were sorted and placed in the IKEA cabinet pictured below. The ones that didn’t fit were then donated.
It felt good and much less overwhelming to all of us!
But it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Kids spot a toy at the store or during a play date and “have to have it” and we want to give it to them! We want them to be happy and remember the joy we felt when we received new toys! But think about how much more we can give to our children long term when we offer them room for creativity and exploration!
Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., writes about the importance of play in his award-winning book Playful Parenting. He states “Through play, [children] practice cooking, cleaning, going to work, fighting, taking care of the baby—every adult activity they see around them. This kind of playful practice, performed over and over, makes them more confident.”
When a child only has a few things, they are forced to build on their imaginations and approach the world in a more resourceful and less entitled way. You will also see that children begin to take better care of their things. One time, my daughter was too rough and broke a part of her dress up clothes wardrobe. She then said, “Mommy, now you need to buy me another one!” At this moment, I realized that I had set an example that she would be given replacements for her carelessness. This quickly needed to change! We talked about taking care of what we have been given and set a new expectation.
Finally, allow your kid to experience contentment. This is not a strength for me, personally, but something I am working on and hope to instill in my children. Contentment can only come through finding joy and happiness in what they already have.
Tell us in the comments, how do you give more to your children by buying less?