Believe it or not, it is possible to be a minimalist even if you have children. Minimalism can mean a lot of different things to different people, and these days the word usually conjures up images of Marie Kondo, or stark white museum type homes and spaces. In actuality this is not the case.
In truth, minimalism with regards to buying things, is all about intentionality and consciousness. Sounds scary I know, but really all it means is buying items with a valid reason, a purpose and with longevity in mind. Oftentimes this means buying higher quality items which tend to be slightly more expensive but last longer, or buying 2nd hand. The aim is not to acquire items for the sake of it, but to focus on the products you bring into your home, ensuring they have a purpose and will be used.
Minimalism and Children's Gifts
With all the best intentions, it can be really hard to practice minimalist principles with children because people love to buy children gifts, parents and caregivers included! Because of this, it is really important to make sure you have established a gifting strategy from the outset, one that you follow in your own home, and that you can share with anyone who is likely to buy your child or children a gift.
We believe that one of the best strategies to apply is the 'want, wear, need, do, share and read' principle. Following this principle will equate to 6 gifts per occasion for your little ones!
This particular gift is pretty self explanatory. If your children are anything like ours, you will know exactly what is on their wish list as they probably haven't stopped talking about the item for weeks or months! The idea here is to buy your child an item you know they've asked for and would like. More often than not, it's the one that will put the biggest smile on their face as it's one from their personal wish list.
I'm sure we're not the only parents who feel like their child is forever growing out of clothes and shoes! Kids grow up quickly, so this gift is all about buying your child an item to wear. It might be an item or clothing or footwear, or a new reusable nappy or wrap if required.
It is up to you whether the item is a true necessity, or something you'd like them to have. However, keeping in mind the minimalist principle of conscious purchasing, this item really should be an item that has a true purpose in your baby or child's wardrobe.
This gift category is a great one for teaching older toddlers and children the difference between 'wants' and 'needs.' Babies and children often need a great many things, so it's down to you to decipher what is to be bought in this gift category. Some examples might be a reusable water bottle for back to school, a wooden teething ring for a baby who is starting to get their teeth through or bamboo dinnerware for a weaning baby. The focus of this gift category is to purchase a practical item that your baby or child needs at that specific point in time.
One of the best gifts to give in our opinion is that of an experience. Gifts that fall into this category are those which are likely to create lasting memories for your child and the family. Experience gifts do not have to be expensive, it's often the first thought to buy a ticket to the zoo, or a similar type of day out and whilst these sorts of trips are fantastic, you can think out of the box with this one!
There are sensory experiences all around us, it might be a walk in the local woods or park, collecting leaves, spotting trees and birds, naming different things they can see, feeding the ducks, followed by a picnic or an ice-cream. The main focus on the 'experience' gift is that you spend focussed, meaningful time together with your child. Often as adults, we think the our children require more, and the bigger the better. Most of the time, particularly in our busy, time poor lives, they just require bonding time with us, where our attention is fully on them and where their emotional 'cup' can be filled.
The sharing gift is a great one because not only does it teach this valuable trait to your child, but also allows others - be it friends or family, to partake in the joy of the gift! An example of a sharing gift would be a board game that you know your child would like, but that the whole family will enjoy as well. Or it might be something that they can share with their friends at school or nursery.
Finally, the last of the 6 gifts would be a book or a magazine for your child to read. Books are so important for children of all ages to learn and develop their literacy skills, imagination and language skills. Reading to your child also provides that much needed quality time, and for all children a nice, calming activity to help them wind down at the end of a long day.
Books are definitely our favourite gift of choice, but buying them new all the time can become not only expensive, but also add to general household clutter. Utilising your local library is a fantastic way to support a great local free service which is always under threat, and will give your child access to an endless supply of new books to satisfy even the healthiest reading habit!
The key thing to remember when thinking about your minimalist gifting strategy for your own children, is to understand the importance of quality over quantity. Quality time and memories made, are more important than physical things and last longer in the hearts and minds of your children. Do not feel pressured, or inadequate if you cannot afford what you see around you and on social media. Focus on these 6 gifting principles above, and you will find the art of gift giving a lot easier and less stressful and financially burdensome than ever before!