How do you keep your kids from feeling deprived when you’re still happy with your Wii while other families have moved onto the next 3 generations of gaming consoles?
Or when the kids find out that other families take trips to the mall on a regular basis while your family might venture in once or twice a year?
When we remove something from our life, whether it’s consumerism, junk food, or entertainment that our family doesn’t feel is appropriate, our family is less likely to feel deprived if we also add in something enriching, nourishing, and wholesome that the family can enjoy instead. I only have elementary-aged children, so I haven’t come across issues associated with teens, but even at these ages my children are keenly aware of what other families have that we don’t.
I have never sat my children down and explained my whole owning-less philosophy with them, but I do take the opportunities that present themselves to talk about how our family does things.
Avoid over explaining
While explaining I try to avoid three main things: I avoid making them think that we’re poor, I avoid judging how others live their lives, and I avoid using the word ‘fair’.
I tend to point out my own human limitations- I really do struggle with keeping things organized, so we own less because it helps me to be a better mom and our family to run more smoothly.
I choose to budget (see more here) in a way that eliminates most of the money-related stress so we are able to replace, fix, and purchase the things that we actually do need.
And I want my children to be in a habit of feeling content (I tell them this) with what they have because they will be happier this way.
I have a strong belief that God placed these children under my care for a reason, so I assume that since I feel fairly strongly about avoiding consumerism, they will not be harmed by being different in this way, so I’m able to explain and proceed with confidence, which seems to help the kids adjust.
And then we get to the adding back in part
Because we enjoy simple day hikes with just a backpack full of water, snacks, and fleece coats in case it storms, we’re able to go out with just 30 minutes of notice when we find that our day is free. Without all the planning and stuff-organizing involved with more elaborate outings with a boat, camper, horses, or ATVs, we’re able to get out and do things much more often.
The smaller the house we have, the simpler it is to clean. The less clothes we own, the faster we can catch up on laundry. With a clean and organized kitchen, we’re able to cook together as a family many times a week, and we feel better because we eat home-cooked food more often.
The more time spent on one activity, the more fun it becomes.
I buy my kids bikes – they ride them every day and have enjoyed the increased skill that comes with daily practice. When we were in Arizona we swam in the apartment pool every afternoon, I was even known as ‘that mom who always takes her kids to the pool’, and my kids gained confidence and learned how to play together in the water, something more valuable and much less costly than months of swimming lessons would be.
When we don’t add back in, or build a sense of belonging, our kids feel deprived
Sometimes we accidentally get over focused on what we want to avoid (too much media! electronic toys! over consumption! junk food!) and we forget to add back in the good stuff.
It’s actually more simple to do the adding back than you might think – it doesn’t mean that everything has to be nonstop fun, fun, fun, stopping to read a story, give a smile, color together in the afternoon, or a trip to the hardware store to buy a box of roofing nails and an uninterrupted afternoon to pound them into scrap lumber goes a long way to making kids feel blessed by your lifestyle.
Our family likes road trips.
Actually, I like road trips and I desire my children to learn to be content in the car and experience what the part of the country within reasonable driving distance has to offer. We’ve had some trips where I just gave up and drove through the night to minimize awake time in the car, but each trip I’ve seen growth in the children’s ability to get along in the back seat (well, let’s be honest, I have 3 rows, so they’re separated when needed), less trying to get away with things that they know wouldn’t fly at home just because we’re away, and more of an ability to entertain themselves while confined to the car for hours of time.
They’ve also started to realize how neat it is when they find out a friend just got back from the Grand Canyon, and hey, they’ve been there too!