A few weeks ago, after I discovered Minimalism, I started to declutter my home. I gave away clothes and got rid of a lot of stuff. Can I tell you something? It feels so good detaching myself from most of my processions. Do you want to know what kind of stuff we threw away the most?
Toys! We found out that there were tons of toys lying and hiding in every part of our house. Most of them Yaseen played with them only once. Some were broken. A lot of them came from McDonald’s Happy Meal so they’re identical. I roughly calculated the value of these unwanted toys, and I was surprised how much money we spent on plastic.
I never had these many toys in my childhood, and I always felt so thankful for that. My past shaped someone I’m proud of being today. I’ve always believed that lack of things drives my creativities and imaginations. I used to play in a big field and vast farmlands, and on the weekend, I would hit the nearby forest with my friends. Those journeys were the most wonderful. Each one of them was better than any experience I ever had in the awesome big theme parks. I always want my kid to have the kind of childhood that I had; the one that filled with nature, adventure and freedom.
Parents want what’s best for their children. We want a happy and comfortable life for our kids. However, it’s quite difficult to define “Happiness” and “Comfort” for different people. To some parents, they want their kids to have secure future with enough food and stable home. Some wants their kids to be outstanding in their future careers. Okay, don’t lie— some of you want your kids to be rich and have more than they will ever need. It’s normal to wish good things for our children. That’s the basic principal of being the good and supportive parents. And it’s important to be good and supportive parents. We want to shower our kids with things that aid them to right direction to ensure their bright beautiful futures.
Yes, it’s important to be good and supportive parents, but moreover, it’s vital that we are CONSCIOUS PARENTS.
I first encountered this term, Conscious Parent, when I was watching an old vlog of Mango Island Mamma. Ellen Fisher and her husband are living the wholesome raw vegan life with their 2 beautiful healthy children in Maui. In the video, it was Christmas, and the family is having a simply celebration. You know how kids are on Christmas— her son, Elvis, is supper excited. He uses a treasure map to find presents which mom and dad hid around the house. One of the present was a bunch of sticks. Yes, sticks. Wooden sticks wrapped in pretty ribbon. I laughed because I thought it was a prank, but Elvis’s reaction immediately silenced me. He’s historically happy the way I have rarely seen in kids these days. He jumps up and down, hugging the sticks as if they were the best awesome toy guns or the newest shiny gadgets. It was stunning to see such innocent, raw and simple happiness like that.
Now ask yourself this! What would be my kid’s reaction if I gave sticks to him/her as present on his/her birthday? I did find out how mine reacted.
I asked Yaseen what if I gave him some sticks for his birthday. He was like… “whattt?”, laughing so hard because he thought I was teasing him. He made fun of me and the sticks after that. Well… oh yes, he’s so going to get sticks on his next birthday.
Mango Island Mamma quotes “It is we who teach our children how to be greedy by giving them diamonds instead of sticks and stone.” – Shefali Tsabary from the book the Conscious Parent. I haven’t read the book, and I don’t know if I will ever get to that, but the message is very powerful. It resonates to my idea of living humbly and being down-to-earth. I want my kid to be able to appreciate the simplest gift, and understand that the value of any material thing is not in the item, but in his hands, based on how he will do something with it. Then I realized that I was such a hypocrite sometimes. While I wanted my kid to be humble and simple, but I kept giving him shiny new toys. By giving Yaseen these brand new plastic, I’m training him to obey trends, market and advertisement. Happiness should be honest and reasonable. I need to be more careful about this. So, I wonder if it’s too late for the boy who laughed at the idea of sticks as gift to be happy to get the sticks.
My point is not about avoiding buying expensive toys for kids. Of course, toys are fun tools that help in physical and mental development in children. My point is we should teach our kids to appreciate and respect everything they have, and to not want stuff because everybody else is having it. It’s even more important for parents to be open and mindful about material things we expose to our children. You know the nature of human; we are easily trapped in materialism. Our children are easily led by media and social environment to want and to demand stuff. How to make them truly realize what matters and what is meaningful can be tricky.
But I will tell you a little secret if you haven’t already known. Kids really don’t need much. They don’t need 100 toys to be happy. After I threw away a big sack of toys from my house, my kid is still happy. Kids are not needy and demanding like how people see it on the outside. They are simple creatures. All they need is LOVE which most people mistake as “attention.” It’s easy to let them know that you love them by just being around. It doesn’t matter you are giving them a new iPad or sticks. It’s how involved you are around them. If you are sitting with your kids playing with his iPad, then the ipad will be as valuable to him as any of his favorite stuff.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I am not going to buy toys for Yaseen anymore. (Although I’m curious how much money I will save if I really don’t have to. Hahaha.) It’s not about giving him sticks, stone and seashells to play with. It’s not about spending less, and it’s not about minimalism. By the way, he already has an eerie hobby of collecting dead bugs which is super down-to-earth. Hahaha. Of course, I will buy him stuff, but both he and I will have to come to an understanding of the value of things we add to our life. Giving him blank canvas sparks his imagination. Clutter his mind with a basketful of toys distract him from what he’s truly capable of. Being involved in his craft strengthens my relationship with him.
So we give a little bit of thought to things we give to our children. Don’t you think it’s already wonderful enough when our children are content with what they have, happy with what they get, and free to create stuff with their wild imaginations.