Wednesday, 4 March 2020

How to Waste Less and Own Less with a Child

It's already March...a bit past New Year's resolutions, but this is still on a lot of people's to do lists. Even if we’re far from being hoarders, sometimes we end up accumulating piles of toys, clothes, stuff we’ve used once or twice and then forgot about it. This is much worse when we have children, because they outgrow their clothes and toys so fast, they barely get to use them.

I’ve been trying to get rid of as much stuff as possible. Being a minimalist would be a dream come true, but I’m not there yet…not even close. I want to make more time for the important things in life. Rather than dusting and taking an eternity to vacuum because I need to move stuff out of the way, I want to spend that time playing with my daughter, doing sports with my partner, or reading.

Here are a few ideas that have helped in this respect. As I mentioned, I still have a long way to go, but at least I started the process.

· We rotate toys – keeping toys in the storage helps when it comes to cleaning, and my daughter doesn’t get the chance to get bored with toys that easily, because she doesn’t have all of them at her disposal.

· We’ve donated old clothes and baby toys. Try to find friends with younger children or donate them to orphanages. If you think you might have another baby, give them to a friend, then get them back in a few months, when their baby has grown.

· Teach kids how it feels to give to others in need and to donate. They’ll understand the importance of this gesture and might continue as adults, if they are taught from an early age. I let my daughter go through the old clothes we’re going to donate and explain that they will make someone else really happy.

· Teach kids respect for belongings. The toys won’t get broken as often.

· If your children enjoy sensory play with food, that’s fine. Try to reuse materials as much as possible. I store cloud dough, playdough, lentils, pasta, coloured rice in air-tight containers or zip lock bags in a cool dry place. That seems to work.

· Instead of buying new books, try to borrow more from the local library. That’s how I test if my daughter enjoys a specific book. If I feel like she’s going to enjoy reading it for a long time, I’ll think about buying it.

· Choose books made from recycled paper.

· Choose less, but higher-quality toys. When it comes to my child, I prefer buying very few toys that are of great quality, sustainable, and dyed with child-safe paint, rather than getting a lot of cheap toys that won’t last and that might be unsafe. Better quality toys can be sold and reused by siblings.

· Open ended toys are more versatile and can be used in endless ways. Think of building blocks, balls, boxes, scarves, etc. Your children will get a lot of use from those toys and will be able to develop their creativity.

· Visit different playgrounds, museums, and find things to do outside of the house too. That way, you won’t need to rely on new toys to keep your child engaged. However, when you have more than one child, it’s a bit easier – they socialize and learn a lot by being together.

· Ask relatives to give experiences as gifts: museum visits, movie tickets, philharmonic concerts, trip to the zoo, to the aquarium, etc.

· Find soap that also works as shampoo, or a basic cream that works for the entire body. Try to use hygiene products that are natural and without perfume.

· Choose organic, recyclable, or reusable products: wooden toothbrush, reusable cotton pads to wash your baby’s face, cloth nappies, repurpose muslin cloths as towels or napkins afterwards;

· When out and about, pack cooked food in glass containers or use reusable food pouches with porridge, yogurt, or smoothie. I sometimes buy the ready-made porridge pouches, but I’m trying to do it less often. Sometimes I just don’t have time at home, or something unexpected comes up and I don’t have something to pack.

· Use a floor bed from the beginning, instead of a crib, because your baby will anyways outgrow the crib and you’ll need a new frame – this is, of course, a major change. It has worked for us, but it might not work for you.

· Most mums don’t function properly without coffee. But getting coffee to go in paper cups is not ok. Invest in a good thermos and you’ll be much happier…the environment as well.

What other suggestions do you have? I’m sure I forgot some. I might have to come back to this post.

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