So , I know as a child I loved toys. I got so excited when someone gave me a present, when my grandparents bought me new clothes for school, when my Popu gave me money...it made me smile and made me feel happy. So why now as a parent do I have such a hard time with my kids getting gifts? I love to see them smile...and for them to have that moment of happiness. But then I see the excess...and it makes me want to stop them getting gifts altogether. I know that sounds extreme, and it is, but how many matchbox cars can one boy have, how many stuffed animals, trinkets, etc. Where does it stop?!
Some of this I know is due to the fact that I am trying to simplify our lives. When I look at what the boys actually play with, it equals about a dozen items. They have their favorites and the rest of the toys don't get touched. So why do we have all of this? Why do I allow more things to come in the house? I am just as guilty as any grandparent...you see a cute little something, that you know they will just love...so you buy it. It gets played with until it is broken, or they are bored with it...and then back to their favorites. So, how do I stop this vicious cycle of stuff?
My sister-in-law and I talked about this the other day. She has four children, so she has double the burden of toys & stuff that I do! We think the solution is gift cards. That way the parent can get the child what they need/want when they feel it is appropriate and it is a win-win for everyone. Yes, the child doesn't have a present to open up at that "special" moment...but you know what, patience is a virtue! I bet kids would learn a lot from waiting for that something special.
So for my boys, I am trying to keep out any additional toys, trinkets, animals that will add to their already abundant array of fun! They have a sufficient amount of things to entertain them and I don't think that they need anything more. For Christmas we plan to ask Santa to bring them three gifts each (just as the wise men did for Jesus) and put some consumeables (fruit, treats, bath stuff) in their stocking. For E's upcoming birthday, I know this sounds weird, but I really feel like putting "no gifts please" on his invitation. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and I know I can be a bit extreme, but he needs nothing. He is perfectly content with what he has, he has enough clothes for five kids (thanks to his counsin's hand-me-downs), and again he needs nothing. I guess out of peer pressure (how lame at 31) I probably won't...but I am still thinking about it.
I just want my boys to grow up knowing that stuff doesn't matter. I want them to learn to take care of what they have, appreciate it and be content. There is so much more to life than stuff...and it sure doesn't bring happiness. So, I am trying to teach my boys these important lessons, without taking the fun out of their childhood. Parenting can be so tricky!