Lighten up in the new year

As a kid, ushering in the new year involved giving away old toys and clothes to make way for our Christmas haul. My dad would have us go through our closets, drawers and toy chests to set aside things we didn’t use anymore. Little did I know my dad was an early adopter of minimalism. OK, that’s a bit of a stretch. But it goes to show you don’t have to be a self-proclaimed minimalist to enjoy living a little lighter.   

Minimalist kids may seem as oxymoronic as bittersweet jumbo shrimp. The evolutionary drive of survival, a developing executive function, and external factors all tell our kids’ brains, “I want it, and I want it now!” We, as parents, are not helping the situation by giving in to that Hot Wheels car at Target just to keep our little ones from having a full-on, public meltdown.

And that whole growing thing means new clothes, toys and books accumulating constantly.  

Take some time this month to go through your things with your child. Have them watch you give away items you don’t need, then help them do the same. Share why you’re doing this and who it might benefit — yourself, your family or those in need.  

Then the real challenge becomes not accumulating things in the first place.

Consider changing your family’s reward system to something other than material things. Try spending more one-on-one time with your child, going on a day trip or practicing gratitude. Be an example of a conscious consumer and prep your child before a purchase (for example, have a quick talk before a trip to Target). It may not only prevent tantrums but also instill a way of life. Set yourself up this year to live more with less. 

Read more in my weekly column: https://www.yourcommunitypaper.com/articles/parenthood-minimalism-after-the-holidays/

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