Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.
I sometimes reflect why it is difficult for me to live a simple life, to counter steer impulsive shopping, to ignore (stupid and wrong) promises of adverts and to be content with the things I own.
There are definitely several reasons, one of them being “habits”. The habit to buy something to feel better, the common (wrong) belief that possessing more is always better, the habit to look for the newest, trendiest and best thing – whatever that may be.
These habits developed over time and I’m working to change them, but it definitely would be easier if these habits wouldn’t have become habits in the first place. So, when my 3-year old daughter started to “want” things, to become more aware of which toys other kids have and which products are promoted on posters, I talked with my husband and we decided to try the following: if our daughter wants a new toy and there is no birthday, Christmas or Easter coming up, we will ask her to donate something she owns. She has two large boxes full of toys, and there are always toys and dolls which she doesn’t like or use anymore, or which she has outgrown.
Well, it didn’t take long and our daughter announced the desire for a doll’s pram. We waited several days to see if it was a one time thing, but after two weeks, she still wanted a pram for her favorite doll. So, we sat down with her and told her, that we understand her, but as there was no celebration coming up and as she has lots of toys already, she would need to donate something in order to get the pram. She looked at us, and then nodded!
I showed her three toys which she hadn’t played with in a while and she picked one. We then went to the local charity and she handed the old toy to the sales woman – who praised her for her generosity. The next day, my husband showed her five prams on the internet and after comparing them with each other, she picked one. We explained to her that it will take approx 3 days until the new pram arrives.
Every day she asked if today was the day that the pram arrived and when it was delivered she was very proud and happy. She hasn’t asked once for the toy she donated (sometimes the short memory of a toddler comes in handy) and she plays a lot with the new pram. I’m very proud of her patience to wait for something she desired and to accept our suggestion of not just accumulating, but to prioritize and chose carefully, starting with “one in, one out”. I hope I’ll assist her to develop habits which will help her to live with an open mind in respect to people, animals and objects, no matter how big or small, cheap or expensive.
Traveling is one of my favorite “tools” to show my daughter the diversity and richness of the life, if you want to see where we’ve been and where we will go, have a look at my blog Little Platypus – life with a tiny traveler.