Something I’ve Noticed About My Kid

Macy M9 comments6968 views

Some may say I am projecting.  Maybe I am.  But I don’t THINK I am.  I have noticed the holidays overwhelm my kids, or rather the stuff that comes with holidays.  Well, not kids, mostly Hazel because let’s face it, anything overwhelms Miles, he’s new.  Hazel is getting the hang of this world though.  She knows everything, just ask her.  She’s her own boss.  I’m NOT the boss of her.  You know, she’s two… every bit of the stereotype you hear about two year olds.

March was hard on us.  We entered the month stocked up on sugar from Valentines day.  Immediately we had a bunch of birthdays, then St. Patties Day, then her birthday, then Easter.  I didn’t know those holidays had gotten so commercialized.  When I was young I always assumed St. Patties was an ‘adult holiday’.  I knew what it was for and all that but the only thing to do was wear green and then the grown ups drink green beers.  Sometimes there was corned beef.  This year though, the kids got St. Patties day gifts and candy, not much, but some.  I rolled with it.

Then Hazel’s birthday, which was great.  I know I won’t ever be able to control the gift giving of others, the best I can do is request no gifts and continue to emphasize that the best gift is the time spent together.  My only rule though is ‘if it can’t fit at my house it stays at yours’.  So far that seems to keep things in check on birthdays and Christmas, the ones I anticipate getting things for.

Then came Easter.  I had no idea I even had to beware of Easter.  When I was growing up, we wake up to find a simple Easter basket with a few jellybeans, a chocolate bunny and maybe some bubbles. Mom made a special dinner, we had an egg hunt for a couple more jelly beans.  We spent time together.  It was fun.

This year each of my kids got seven Easter baskets.  That’s right, SEVEN.  A total of FOURTEEN Easter baskets consumed my couch.  They were from well meaning relatives on all sides of the family.  My kids are the only grand kids on my side, there are a lot on the other side and things have to be ‘even’.  Lots of factors lead to going WAY overboard.  James and I opted to not even do anything special for the kids for Easter because everyone else already did everything and then some (and I do feel a little bummed about that, but I know it’s a shallow thought, we did spend family time together looking at their new stuff ;-)).

I was debating what to do with all of the well meaning but completely overwhelming stuff, I was weighing the guilt I’d face throwing it in the trash (we had already perpetuated unethical labor laws by taking the gift home, the least we could do was use it a little before crowding the landfill…), the guilt I would face pawning off our junk in the name of ‘those in need’ (who really don’t want or need junk any more than us, it’s just a lie we tell ourselves so we don’t feel as bad as tossing it straight into the trash), and wondering if any of it should be kept.  While I was considering the options, I noticed something.  My normally kind and sharing little girl was not.  She was anxious and protective of all ‘her stuff’.

Hazel is the girl at the playground who is very good about sharing her toys and treats.  I have heard several complements from moms and dads praising her ability to share, something they claim they have huge issues battling their own kids on.  She is the first to hand over some of her treats, her toys, her juice, to want to play bubbles.  She woke up while I was taking this picture of this ‘stuff’ (below), runs out of her room toward Miles and I and yells ‘See this, it’s all MINE, NO!’ and sneered at Miles as if he was going to take it and run off!

This isn’t even all of it…

It took me back a second to see her act that way but ultimately made it that much easier to just throw most of it out!  We kept a few items (the ones we could use), replaced old toys, tossed the rest and moved on.  She didn’t miss any of it.

It did leave me wondering if some adults subconsciously act the same.  The more you have the more emotional burden there is to ‘protect’, and the less kind you are.   I know for a fact that the feeling of having less stuff is very freeing for me and has definitely allowed me to slow down and be more intentional about my actions, which I think leads to me sharing more openly, but there are probably a lot of factors to that…  I do know it was more painful for me parting with all of my ‘things’ all of those years ago than it was for Hazel but I have not once missed them either.  I once had enough crap to fill a 2,500 s.f. house.  

Not once have I missed it.  

Yeah… I might be projecting… but I’ll still insist that time spent together is a better gift than any ‘thing’!  And if it must be a thing, the best ones hold memories and aren’t made in China!



  1. Wow. What the heck is a kid supposed to do with that many Easter baskets? And, having so many seems to make them less special. I had a similar experience; a hidden basket containing some jellybeans, a chocolate rabbit, a small stuffed rabbit most years, and perhaps some other small trinket. Plus a hunt for those ghastly plastic eggs, though ours did not have stuff inside of them – the eggs themselves were treat enough.
    I wonder if your relatives might be open in future years to buying a gift certificate for a family in need to have a nice meal on Easter instead of buying baskets for your kids? Or, if you have an area nearby with homeless folks, perhaps just bring all but one basket to distribute amongst the homeless families with kids?

  2. Oh, boy–it seems you have a big job on your hands and I am NOT talking about Hazel. It ‘kind of’ is nobody’s fault, per se, as the culture has lately gone bonkers to make every occasion an opportunity to buy and give gifts–it’s basically just a function of so many ‘things’ being available in so many stores and everyone trying to make more bucks. I feel pretty sure you have (you state it in your blog post) told your family that you really can’t accept gifts and don’t expect or necessarily welcome them. But I think it is time, for your childrens’ sakes as well as yours AND your family members’, to have a more focused, adult discussion about–well, basically your right to raise your children ‘junk-free’. And it doesn’t need to be an accusatory talk–merely an honest discussion of what you have laid out here–cheap, foreign made products that serve no real purpose but to fill a ‘gift-hole’ and only serve to crowd you out of your home and inspire in your children selfish and consumerist behaviors having no place in your home or heart (not to mention the sugar problems you touched on). Maybe gently suggesting special a book for each child, and maybe one (or more) donated to a homeless shelter or Boys and Girls Club, HeadStart program, or whatever; perhaps special one on one time spent together with the child or children–doing a holiday-themed craft or art project, cooking/baking special holiday food to share with family or others, a nature walk, just reading some books or watching a special video, in other words, just spending time together, really being together. Or other ideas, like visiting a person in a nursing home, (or at home, with no grandchildren) who never gets visitors, spending a few minutes, just talking, reading, amusing someone else, maybe taking those baked goods that were communally made before? There’s a raft of ideas floating around out there–my family used to go to the homeless day house that served the down-and-outest on Thanksgiving AND Christmas to cook a dinner or breakfast and help with a winter ingathering of supplies. (Granted, we did this before and without young children, but it a great gift to give.) It may help inspire more meaningful relationships within the families and in outside relationships, too, and will serve as a fantastic example for your kids to build on later. My favorite holiday times were those spent around the table with my extended families–I barely remember any gifts other than attention from the adults I loved. I also remember (didn’t ‘love’ at the time) the clean up times–getting to help in the kitchen is really very meaningful for young children, and is an important part of maintaining family relationships.

    Now–ask me how I ‘really’ feel about it!

    1. I had a code when raising my son. 4 presents per holiday. 1 had to be educational, 1 clothing, 1 fun, 1 desired. When it came to others I requested that they also kept to a code. 1 of the above -or- 1 coupon book of I give you hugs stuff, -or- 1 gift cert or finally a contribution either to a charity or my son’s education fund. That’s it. I felt I gave plenty of options. I printed it out on really nice paper. Laminated. And attached magnets. No forgetting. All extra gifts are donated to the children’s hospital. No exceptions. At first there were grumbles. But after. People git inventive.

      But every season. I gather up not wirn. Not broken. Washed . And wrapped in tissue and donated. Clutter was never an issue. I miss those days. Because when my son got to 8, he would gather even a fav toy or two.. and say.. please may I give to a boy who diesnt. I’d cry. Yep.

    2. Great Post! It’s interesting to see the real life tiny house challenges with a family. Me and my husband plan to do it when the kids have moved out mainly for this reason! Many grown ups, especially grand parents (with us) feel the need to gift x amount of gifts. No matter if the kids actually need it or would play with it. The three month old gets the same amount as the 14 year old and it was all just collected random stuff on clearance.. I do think our kids, just like us grown ups have a hard time with an abundance of things in our life. It is stressful to care for, protect and keep all the junk in order. Evolutonary I don’t think we have had enough time yet to catch up with this new phenomenon of mountains of extra items. Does more harm then good, but I have not been able to stop this excessive gift giving in my family.

  3. Holy cow! I am thanking my lucky stars for my parents and inlaws right about now!

    Part of the problem my kids have when there are candy holidays is the artificial food colouring. They get zero normally, so the difference in behaviour around birthdays, etc is very noticeable. It makes me even more sure of the choice we make at other times, to not have foods with artificial colours. And to lean towards chocolate.

    I have an idea for the excessive gift giving, for easter at least, how about hosting an egg hunt party? Send invites to these people, plus some others with small kids, ask each family to bring a dozen filled plastic eggs for the hunt. That will maybe help the people who are wanting to share joy with your kids through these gifts find a way to both give something and share joy (watching the hunt).

  4. We’ve recently moved into our tiny home bus conversion and we thought we were going to struggle with our six year old and her room full of toys. She was having trouble deciding what to keep and what to give away as she knew she had to get all of her myriad of toys down to a couple of tubs she could keep under her bunk. She LOVED EVERYTHING! We discussed that the toys she gave away would be going to op-shops for other kids that don’t have much and she was ok with the idea but was still struggling. However, we hit on a solution. I told her that if she didn’t want to give her toys to an op-shop, what about if we donated them directly to refugee children who had no toys at all?

    Something about that fired her imagination and she promptly filled box after box of her things. After that, when the neighbourhood kids came around, she would take them to her room and ask ‘what do you want?’ There were a couple of times I had to stop her giving away some small things that were very expensive or important. A learning for me though was to let her give away things that I thought she should keep, rather than what was important to her. She gave away a large, brand new plush purple unicorn that her grandma gave her to a neighbour and I almost stopped her until I realised that by doing that, I was telling her her things weren’t really hers to determine but ours and only lent to her on sufferance.

    We’ve been in our bus now for two months and she hasn’t missed a single thing that she gave away, and neither have we. We’re determined to never accumulate that amount of stuff again and there is definitely something freeing in having less possessions. Having said that, we’re very comfortable and certainly don’t feel like we’re going without and just making do, everything we chose to keep is either functional, beautiful, or both. We love it.

Leave a Response