Parenthood is full of so many questions. There’s no manual on how to be a good parent, and the whole experience can often seem daunting. After all, you’re in charge of shaping little humans to grow up and be upstanding citizens and overall good people. That’s no simple task, by any means. With all the unknowns in parenting, we’ve got something you can count on, no matter what your situation: 4 things your kids don’t need, and what to give them instead.
As parents, we’re always trying to do what’s best for our kids. We want to give them the best we possibly can, and sometimes that means giving them more than we probably should. Kids actually need less than we think — it’s social media and the pressure to be a perfect parent that sometimes clouds our vision into thinking they need the most, the best, the latest and greatest. The truth is, they don’t. Here are four examples of things you might be giving your kids that they don’t truly need.
1. An overstock of fancy, electronic toys
Alternative: Simple, classic, open-ended toys
Have you ever noticed your kids after their birthday or Christmas playing with the box the toy was packaged in instead of the toy itself? Kids like being creative and using their imagination, so a room full of flashy toys just isn’t necessary. Actually, having less toys provides your child with more focused play and prevents them from being too overwhelmed with their options. A few quality toys that they can use creatively are better than bins and bins of toys that are forgotten and lose their novelty. To get an idea about some good alternatives to battery operated, light up, music playing toys, think about the classics that stand the test of time.
Things you can build with: legos, blocks, cardboard boxes
Things you can be creative with: crayons, paper, paint
Things you can be imaginative with: dress up clothes, pretend food, baby dolls/stuffed animals
As much as you may feel compelled to buy all the hottest new gadgets, it’s a good idea to take a step back and be more intentional with the toys you do buy. Buy things that will last — things that can be passed down, and enjoyed again and again.
2. Screen Time
Alternative: Your time
Picture this: a family in one room, all on their phones, not talking or engaged whatsoever. Sadly, it’s actually a very common occurrence, and for some families, has become the norm. In a world of endless technology, it’s getting harder and harder to stay connected with the people you’re around, even if you’re in the same room. Instead of getting lost in social media, it’s important to spend quality time with your kids. Ask them questions. Play. Just be with them. If you want to do an activity, try building a fort, baking something, having a tickle fight, playing a board game or hide and seek. We know everyone is busy (and sometimes busy is a huge understatement), but time with your kids is important — not just time with your kids, physically. You know? You don’t need to spend any money or do anything fancy. Just be there, enjoying each other’s company. It will strengthen your bond and your relationship more than you may realize.
3. A closet full of designer outfits
Alternative: Clothes they can get dirty in, play dress up with, and just be kids in
Listen. We’re not saying you should never buy nice clothes — after all, we think mini fashion is one of the perks of parenthood! It’s fun to play dress up with your kids, giving them a unique, adorable style. We get it. But don’t get so caught up in it that you end up spending big bucks on a closet full of outfits they aren’t even allowed to “play” in. Not to mention, kids grow like weeds. You can still shop fun, unique clothing that kids can get messy in, explore their surroundings, learn and thrive in. Save the designer clothes for special occasions and provide them with some outfits you don’t mind them wearing to make mud pies or climb trees. Bottom line, their clothes shouldn’t hold them back from truly experiencing childhood.
4. An overbooked schedule
Alternative: Unscheduled time to get messy, explore, and spend time with family
It’s good to get kids involved in activities, but be careful you don’t make the schedule so jam packed that they don’t have any down time. Just like adults, kids need time to relax and reset. An overbooked schedule could lead to stress or even impact their overall health. If you find your family eating too much fast food, keeping your kids up past bedtime to accommodate the busy schedule, or frantically rushing from place to place, it’s probably a good idea to cut back on some activities. Kids will benefit doing less scheduled activities while having a positive, stress-free family life at home. Instead of overbooking, allow your kids to have some unscheduled time to play, get creative, spend quality time with family, and enjoy childhood.
We’re sure you’ve guessed that the overall theme here is to simplify. Simplify your life. Simplify your children’s lives. Simplify your schedule. And life will become more simple. Funny how that works, right? Now go on and enjoy some time with your kiddos. You both deserve it!
For more parenting tips, check out our post on How to Avoid 10 Typical Parenting Blunders.
Photo credits: Kristen Love