Mini consumers... can we save them?
More importantly, can we save ourselves from creating these mini consumers?
The onslaught of stuff doesn’t stop when your baby becomes a toddler or preschooler. They’re the celebrities of your family and general circle and everyone wants to spoil them and "show them how much they love them."
Your child might take an interest in unicorns or paw patrol and so everyone will go mad fueling an obsession with themed toys, clothes other such merchandise. Every birthday and Christmas brings another wave of goodies. Much of which is surplus to needs and sadly will barely get played with.
*Curb it! As i've spokken about before, don't be afraid to be firm with your childrens' "fan club" about not going over the top with buying gifts willy nilly - don’t get caught up in thinking your child’s happiness depends on having a lot of stuff. Even if they tell you they love it or want it etc. All parents know the reality of a young childs attention span.
*Encourage your children to see celebrations as a special time to have fun with family and friends and try to down play the ‘treat’ side of it. I'm not suggesting you never 'treat' your child, simply that you give some thought to what we want to be seen as special verus taken for granted.
*Join your local toy library so you can borrow toys appropriate for where they’re at and return them after a few weeks. If they’re old enough you can involve them in choosing the toys they’d like to borrow. You'd be suprised at the variety, there's everything from puzzles to ride on toys.
*When my son has recieved a lot of new toys at once, i've put some away for 6 months and then swapped them around with toys he's lost interest in. Good for de-cluttering your lounge room too!
*Start as you mean to go on. If you blow out with over the top parties and gifts for your preschooler, you will set a bench mark difficult to beat. Primary school graduations and Sweet 16ths and could get expensive!
*By keeping events likes birthdays simple, we're teaching our kids (without them even realising it!) that we value our things. We don't just use something once and throw it away.
My idea to create "zero waste" parties isn't just about reducing our waste, it's a holistic approach to the madness of consumerism and how children (through us- as well intentioned loving parents) are being targeted to want more and more crap.
I hope kids might start to question, "what should I do with this cup/plate/wrapping paper/left over food now that i'm done with it?" and "What happens to it if I just throw it away?"
Sustainability isn't just important in terms of minimising waste but also in terms of our own happiness and well being. If we're constantly lusting after new clothes, flash cars and larger homes instead of the bigger picture of living a content and happy life where we look after the world we live, we will never feel sasified and grateful for the things that are truly important. My child is 3... so I have no idea if my theory will prevent him creating unhealthy and unsatiable habits. I do however have a lot of hope that he will grow up to respect and appreciate the world around him and won't seek happiness and validation through stuff, and instead will place importance on realationships, experiences and being content with himself. He also might grow up thinking his mother was total flake and eat takeaways 3 times a week... all I can do is try!