Back in the day when my kids were just toddlers, they would do what any toddler would do when walking the aisles of a store...they would ask for everything. 90% of the time my answer was "No." Sounds a little mean, but I knew then that too many yeses would result in a house full of forgotten toys. And back then, our house was TINY. Soon enough, they learned what "No" meant and we could get through an entire shopping trip without them asking for everything. But when a holiday would come along or when we wanted to reward our children for a good deed; we would often choose something simple + minimal. I would observe the item and think to myself "Where am I going to put this in my home?" If there is no place for it, then most of the time...we don't buy it.
We often feel this pressure in society to give our children everything they could ever want or need, especially during holidays or birthdays. And don't even get me started on massive, expensive birthday parties. If you were to ask my son what his favorite birthday was, he may say it was the year he turned 7. It was the month my husband lost his job. My brother was sympathetic to our situation and came to our house on my son's birthday, along with our entire family - aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins. My brother made homemade spaghetti and meatballs and we all gathered in the kitchen (like true Italians would) and encircled my son and all chanted his name, "Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude!" I'll never forget that moment. His face. Full of wonder. He felt important. He felt loved. We had so little to give at that time but I remember after everyone had left and we were packing up some leftovers, he came to me and whispered: "That was the best birthday ever."
So if I could give you specific advice when rewarding or gifting your children it would be this: start early (like age 1, seriously!) with small, minimal, and meaningful gifts. Trust me, when they are my kids' age it is SO much easier to reward them when you've practiced minimal and meaningful gifting early on. I really believe this practice teaches gratefulness. Just last week, we explored a new city in 95-degree heat. On the way to our destination, my husband bought two Hot Wheels at a gas station. He told my children if they didn't complain about the heat for an entire day, they could have those cars before they went to bed that night. And wouldn't you know, it worked! Not only did it work, but we were also THANKED for those little $2 cars. What!!????
We would like to thank EyeGamer, for sparking the idea for this post. They recently sent us a deck of beautiful memory cards. Card games are some of my favorite activities to do with our children. They spark conversation, bring out our personalities, and provide hours of fun.
And there is always room in the minimal home for a simple deck of cards.