I decluttered my kid’s room AGAIN today. This may be the most millennial thing that you ever hear me say, so buckle your seatbelts really tight and listen as well as you possibly can. This holiday season, don’t buy my kid’s more stuff.
Look, I’m not being ungrateful. I promise I’m really not. I love that you love my kids. I love that you want to get them a present. I love that you were thoughtful enough to do that. But we really don’t want more stuff, I can’t handle more stuff, my kids don’t need more stuff.
But you know what they need?
They need education. They need knowledge. They need experiences. They need to go places, and see things, and create memories. They need to learn new things and experience new cultures. They need the excitement that surrounds travel and the unexpected.
They need to cultivate a hobby, to learn a craft, to play a sport, to discover new ideas and have fun creating new things. They need to learn about the world around them by getting their hands dirty. They need to get outside and explore. They need friends and activities that stiumlate and encourage them.
They need opportunities, not possessions.
One of the best things that I ever bought my kids was a zoo membership. Our zoo is nothing special, but we went almost every week and it never got old. We participated in activities, we met new friends, we learned new things. It gave us an outlet, a place where we could escape, and they absolutely loved it.
When we go on vacation, we pack in as many activities as we can. My kids don’t need a stuffed toy or a keepsake to remember where we’ve been. They remember because we give them unique opportunities that they can always look back on.
You know what happens to that stuff? It gets played with for a few minutes and then tossed to the side. It gets left on the drag. The batteries go dead and the kids forget about it. It breaks and ends up going to the trash or being donated. Because after all, it ends up being just clutter.
But you know what happens to those experiences? They give lasting memories. They teach kids something. They cause growth. It encourages appreciation. The excitement that surrounds an experience is something that doesn’t get old and it’s not forgotten. We can’t give our memories away.
But they also need you.
My kids need you. They need you to show them things and take them places. They need you to teach them things and be involved. They need you to take them to that experience and create those memories with them. They need you to lovingly cultivate that relationship with real memories, not substance.
If you’re able, take them to a movie, visit a museum, go on a picnic, go to the park. Take music lessons together, take them backyard camping, go horseback riding, a painting or pottery class. A present is exciting for a time, but a relationship is lasting. Nourish that bond with your presence.
If you’re not physically able, send them a voucher for a few lessons at a local hobby shop. Buy them a membership to an aquarium. Send them to summer camp or church camp or a weekend getaway. But don’t leave it at that. Call, write, text; ask about their experience, encourage them to continue.
This holiday season, I beg you, don’t buy my kids more stuff. Do something as simple as being more present in their lives. Provide them with opportunities and experiences. Show them the world within their means, not the possessions within their walls.