Fewer Toys make Happier Kids

With ads, and discounts galore, I find it hard not to get caught up in shopping this time of year, but . . .

is the key to happier kids actually fewer toys?

As Christmas shopping winds up, I’m doing my best to recognize the benefits of fewer toys for my children, but part of me just wants to spoil them rotten.
I want my kids to remember magical holidays filled with gifts and surprises, so it’s hard to balance my desire to watch her and her brothers’ faces light up with joy on Christmas morning with the knowledge that fewer toys is better for them for so many reasons.
But what I’ve found is that the more she has, the less she really plays with them.
As we’ve pared down in preparation for the Christmas onslaught, I’ve watched her truly playing with a few toys, creating worlds inside her head. I’ve seen creativity blossom even more than usual. Having fewer toys has led to her being happier, more able to focus on playing instead of jumping from toy to toy.With ads, and discounts galore, I find it hard not to get caught up in shopping this time of year, but . . . is the key to happier kids actually fewer toys?
Children get so few hours to play once you consider school and activities, family time, baths, dinner, and homework. I need to help her make the most out of play time.
One study I read said that children shouldn’t be formally educated until 7 or 8. They should be given lots of time to play. It is one of the reasons I chose to homeschool. She gets hours to play a day.
Yet, giving her fewer toys is hard. I want her to have a chance to experience everything to decide her own interests, but she needs time to get deep into play with her toys.
Fewer toys allow:
  • her to truly interact and enjoy each toy and instead of toss them in the bottom of a toy box.
  • room for more creativity. She may have to pretend her doll is also a cowboy, but she will be more mentally flexible, open to outside of the box thinking.
  • realistic expectations which makes grateful for her toys.
  • more time for family, friends, books, and playing outside.
  • faster clean up which makes for happier everyone.

In my head, a living room filled with presents makes Christmas magical for my kids, but in my heart, I know I remember baking and singing carols, I remember the traditions and laughter, stories and the feeling of family. I know I don’t remember very many things I got.

This year, there will still be lots of boxes under the tree, but clothes and socks and books and a few treasured toys, but the most important things will happen around it: movie nights and hot cocoa, cookie platters and rocky road fudge, carols and mischievous grandparents.

As Christians especially, don’t we want the focus of this time of year to be joy rather than on things? On Jesus as the only gift we really need?

I think they’ll be happier kids with fewer toys and more of His and my presence.

3 Ways to be a Happier Mom

Do you want to be a happier mom?

Be a Mom without complaining.

Did you just laugh?

Because momming is soul sucking.

You have an MBA but just spent ten minutes arguing with a two-year-old that the strawberry jam in the squeeze bottle is exactly the same as the jar.

Cleaning house is pointless. You want a healthy, clean house for a tiny person who leaves messes in his wake like Godzilla in Tokyo.

Life is a never-ending cycle of feeding people, cleaning up after people and doing chores over and over and over. And sometimes there is poop – okay, lots of times, there is poop.

So how do we stop complaining while recognizing this is a hard season of our lives?

We recognize the struggle without unpacking and living in it!

Recognize the struggle without unpacking and living in it. #BeaHappierMom Click To Tweet

1. Shift perspective

Ask God for His perspective. He always helps me look past my initial emotions to see the forest of blessings I’m missing when I complain about all the trees in my way.

Just today, I was planning our meals wondering how much fiber I should give my kid (’cause that’s what moms worry about), and I realized I have no idea. When was the last time she yelled at me – “I’m done pooping!” and expected me to race to her side? I can’t remember.

Today’s frustration or ewww factor, might just be tomorrow’s regret. She already needs me less than she did just months ago.

If I have an unfavorite task, I teach my way through it, instructing my daughter why it is important to do with a happy heart, even when we don’t feel like it, how that makes our family a team.

I’ve learned more about what kind of person I should be by focusing on what kind of person I want to raise. Also – #3 here. Do you want to be a happier mom? Be a Mom without complaining. Did you just laugh? Because momming is soul sucking. But . . .

I've learned more about who I want to be by focusing on the kind of person I want to raise.… Click To Tweet

2. Always look for the bright side.

Last month, I had a leaky back tire. Instead of just $20 to fix it, the shop noticed my two front tires were cracked and ready to burst any second, $400 instead. Right before Christmas, for the second time this month . . .

BUT, I had just taken a 4 hour road trip. I was so grateful that we didn’t have a blow-out on the twisty windy Georgia back roads that could have caused a serious accident.

3. Get your worship on!

When I start to slip into an awful place, nothing shifts that attitude to happier mom faster than worshipping God. Sometimes, I have to fight myself to turn on praise music or open the Bible because my flesh would rather than sit in that pain, feeling overwhelmed and irritable.

Just do it – open the Bible and read one verse, play one random worship song. I dare you to stay crabby. It may not erase the painful circumstances, but it reminds me where my hope lies.

The last two Novembers, I’ve taken a step past daily gratitude to trying to change my entire attitude by going without complaining.

This year I felt like counting the hours until the challenge was over. November was the hardest month we’d had in a long time. Everything that could go wrong did, well almost. But December 1st came, and I didn’t want to unload all my harbored complaints.

Because I learned so much:

  • I learned my faith needs testing to grow. Job, I am not.
  • I learned my marriage is a million times stronger than it was before this very hard year.
  • I learned I’m a happier mom when I don’t complain because what I give energy and voice to becomes my reality.

Being a happier mom means I spend less time upset, less time stressed out, less time wishing it were bedtime and more time just enjoying the moments, even the ones with poop.

Celebrating the Days of Summer

Looking for ways to make summer fun without breaking the bank? Us too, all the time! Even an outing to the movies can cost upwards of $100 with a family of five for all the bells and whistles, never mind the cost of an amusement park or out-of-town vacation.

Our income dropped in half when we moved here and decided I would stay home. We had to find different ways to make the summer days fun for our family without spending a small fortune.

Food seems to be the center of many family celebrations, so when I came across this idea, I knew I’d found a winner. We are celebrating the days of summer! Summers days fly by too quickly. An easy way to make each one special. Heaven Not Harvard

Everyday is a food holiday (see the Nibble’s list here). Yep, everyday. In fact some days are more than one. July 20 is hot dog day, lollipop day, fortune cookie day and ice cream soda day.

While we simply can’t do them all, we certainly are giving it our best shot. So far, we’ve celebrated holidays for strawberry shortcake, fudge, black cows (coke floats), cherry tarts, picnic day, vanilla milkshakes, peaches & cream, onion rings, pecan sandies, strawberry parfait, chocolate pudding, ice cream sodas (which gets celebrated several days a summer in various forms), creative ice cream flavor day (we made banana peanut butter chocolate ice cream from scratch), ginger snaps, chocolate wafers, BBQ ribs, apple turnovers, fried chicken day, strawberry sundaes, chocolate with almonds, pick blueberry day, blueberry muffin day, french fries, and beans&franks day, and tapioca pudding day last night for dessert.

We start the day the boys arrive for the summer and try to celebrate as many as we can. If there is a day that we can’t celebrate like alcoholic beverages or lobster which was not in our budget, we either finish off the leftovers of previous days or pick a day’s celebration that we will miss after they leave.

I usually grocery shop with the week’s holidays in mind, but don’t tell the kids the coming holidays so that they can be surprised each day as we prepare the treat for dessert or dinner.

Looking for ways to make every summer day fun? Try celebrating the "Days" of summer.Blueberry picking day came with an outing to a local orchard. It was hot and sweaty work, but that blueberry pie was so much sweeter when we picked those berries ourselves.

I have found different sites have slightly different lists. Foodimentary’s list is a little different than the Nibble’s, which might vary from another site.

Who cares if these are really real or really official? The fun is in making each treat. We can prep and cook as a family. This sneaky momma teaches cooking, measuring, and kitchen skills while they’re busy having fun.

I try to use a different list every summer for some variety. We have other traditions and summer activities, but celebrating all the days of summer is one way we make summer feel like one long holiday.