Both my boys are about to have a birthday. Next week my big boy will turn six and my baby will turn three. We are in count down mode and I’m scrambling to get a party organised and gift’s purchased.
But I’m stumbling on the gifts thing. I’m torn between wanting to lavish my boys with awesome gifts, and not wanting even more ‘stuff’ in our house.
I’m torn between wanting them to know the joy of abundance on their birthdays, and not wanting them to equate ‘stuff’ with happiness.
I love my kids, and we are privileged to be able to buy them lots of gifts if we choose to. While our kids don’t have everything they have ever wanted, they certainly have a lot of toys, they definitely have enough.
I don’t want more toys in our house, or at least not more toys that will all too soon sit unloved and unused, taking up space and taunting me because I find it so hard to let that stuff go. And while we try to pick gifts that we think our kids will get lots of use out of, that are open ended and allow for lots of creativity, we are as bad as anyone else. I have already gotten carried away on ebay and bought both boys more Lego than is reasonable for a birthday gift… because it was a good deal, because we love Lego, because I could.
It seems mean to even think about not buying my kids gifts for their birthdays, but it also seems ridiculous, almost rude, to be buying them toys just because we can, because we feel like we ‘should’.
And so I am torn…
Am I so stuck in the mindset that stuff equals happiness that I am unconsciously sending the message to my kids that more is better?
Am I encouraging them to buy into the marketing and to lust after the newest ‘in thing’ just because?
Am I buying myself time by getting stuff instead of finding the time to make them something or take them somewhere?
I hope simply being aware of these issues will help me make better choices, choices that I feel fit our family.
Last year we celebrated the boys’ birthdays with a weekend away, and this year the girls have been given the option to choose a fancy weekend away (just the two of them and me) or a party. As our kids get older we are encouraging them more and more to make gifts for their siblings, and encouraging ourselves and family and friends to contribute to ‘experiences’ as gifts rather than ‘things’.
I hope we can share our privilege and joy with our children to celebrate their birthdays, but still be aware of how much is too much.
I hope we can show them that things are just things, and it is ok to let them go and pass them on.
I hope we can teach them that it is the celebration that is important, not what you get.
I hope we can teach them to be thankful for all they have.
It won’t always be the case that we choose less, or different (Lego is as much my weakness as it is my children’s joy.), but I hope we can find some balance in all this.
How do you deal with the influx of gifts at birthdays and other celebrations?
Do you worry about what it is teaching your kids?
Do you think your kids could ever have too many toys?