Living more and owning less is the principle foundation behind the work I do, based on my own unique journey. Sometimes it has challenged me beyond all my childhood programming and at times my messages have been mixed with conflict and self doubts. It has only been in recent months that I have seen the true benefits.
My resources, time, money and energy have been limited. Simply put I can’t have it all or do it all. I realised that life can be a trade-off. One of my biggest challenges has been living Clutter free with my children.
I have been trying to teach them that physical possessions do not add value to their lives and happiness cannot be bought at the shops. This is a very difficult concept for a teenager, where they measure their self-worth in direct comparison with their friends.
Often short-lived fashion “must haves” are an impulse buy to impress another and regularly parents feel under pressure. Children who get everything they want believe they can have everything in adulthood. Most young children do not buy toys for themselves, it is us, the parents who intentionally make the purchases. Examining our motivation and reasons can be an interesting time. Do we give so easily because we want our children to amuse themselves without our interaction?
My first suggestion is to guide our children to think carefully about how the world of advertising works. Toy companies, Smart phones and Fashion retailers develop “fads” every couple of months to increase spending sales. They generate a buying buzz of excitement around the latest products. However, regularly these new products become last season and the high becomes tomorrow’s low.
Reducing your child’s access to on-line shopping sites like Ebay and Amazon and switching off the TV is the biggest distraction to implement. Try to expand their minds to spend time not money doing things they enjoy. Creating opportunities for your children/teenagers to engage in their passion, whether that be sport, music, creativity, learning a language, dance, cooking is far more valuable then acquiring possessions.
Duplication is the biggest reason clutter builds and builds. Teaching our children to share, to be generous, to borrow is a life skill worth learning. I remember when my girls were small, I would have double of everything to stop the tantrums but it never lasted and at times they even wanted what the other one had, even when they were the same!
Limiting toys to fit into a designated space in the home is a great boundary to keep the volume manageable. Allow a space in your home to fit your children’s toys into rather than creating a bigger space to allow for increases. Having storage that hides all, is the key to a quick tidy up look.
Encourage your children to give away to good causes that are close to their heart. School Spring Fares and fundraising days are a great way for them to show others that it is a gift to be able to pass on their outgrown books, toys and clothes to children in homes less fortunate than themselves.
Guiding teenagers to make purchases of quality rather than quantity will reduce the wardrobe space they need. Having one great pair of trainers that they love is a huge space saver. Educating them on how fast the pace of fashion changes will make them aware of impulse purchases and fashion disasters. Girls in particular would be wise to think of how best they can transform a day time outfit into an evening look with just a small accessory. Buying “classic” is a good look to teach our teenage girls.
Being aware of how fast technology moves is also a big way to discourage the need to keep up with the latest phone upgrade. Most phone contracts are very expensive to squeeze out of if you make a mistake.
Limit your spending with a Budget for the children in your life. Learning to manage their own money is a great lesson in budgeting. From an early age I recommend setting up a bank account so that they can save and be responsible for their money. Leading by example is the greatest way to show them how to do it.