I have been thinking about what habits I need to change in order to live with less. There will be changes in buying habits for sure. But this week I was struck by the amount of stuff the little people bring in, and spread around, that we didn’t buy. I mean, it comes from everywhere. Everyone wants to give kids a little “prize” these days. Again a reminder of how our culture has fed this epidemic of too much is not enough. This notion that you need a prize for every little thing you do is ridiculous. Can’t we just go to a restaurant and eat? Isn’t that treat enough? We don’t need a promotional prize for that. How about the dentist, shouldn’t we go because its good for us? A “thanks for coming” should be good enough. Healthy teeth is your prize.
So the past week or so I have taken note of the times when I noticed a lot of garbage about to enter my home. And then I stopped it before it entered!
We went to a fast food joint to eat the other day for a quick lunch while we were out. They each got a “toy” with their meal. I say “toy” because, come on, it can hardly be classified as a toy. Advertisement, ploy, junk is more appropriate. On the way home in the car, about two “toy’s” hit the floor and I knew those were not leaving the car unless I picked them up. All of the packaging for the toys was on the floor too. Why do we need so much plastic? There was plastic inside of plastic and a bag to hold the plastic.
As we pulled into our driveway I thought to myself “if I let this stuff enter my home I will be picking it up everywhere for the next week”. So I decided to confiscate it before it went in.
I put the car in park and locked the doors. I asked everyone to pick up the trash on the floor and put it in a grocery bag I had laying around. Once it was picked up the door opened and the kids were off – except for the one that was being the pushiest and they got to go throw the bag away.
I thought of some other strategies here that I could use in the future.
1. The person in the car who does not put their seatbelt on when asked can be the one to clean up for the rest of us after we get home.
2. The instigator in the back seat who is pushing everyone’s buttons could be the picker-upper.
But the most important thing is to make myself comfortable while they get their clean up done. So I put on some tunes that I liked, tilted my seat back and relaxed. I could also, pick up a book and read, get out and check my garden, return a text I received while driving. I’m sure we can all think of something.
The Dentist Visit
I’m so thankful the dentist is sweet and generous with my children but you would not believe how much stuff we came home with the other day after 4 of them had a visit. Four bags to hold our crap, 4 toothbrushes complete with packaging, 4 flossing sticks with sacks to hold them, 4 toys that broke on the way home, 4 toothpastes with boxes, 4 cards with something on them that I didn’t even read – probably an ad. You see where I am going with this. You have more than one kid and this starts to pile up FAST.
Getting better at this game, I confiscated the bags in the dental office before we left by offering to help them carry their stuff. That was easy and it sounded so nice. Once we got home I threw everything out immediately keeping only the toothbrushes, toothpaste and flossing sticks (sans packaging).
It was a ridiculous pile of trash for just a dentist visit. And it would have been all over my upstairs if I had not used the confiscation technique.
The Last Day of School
Not that this happens often, but man does this day provide a lot of trash. Oh, there is plenty of good stuff to save and ooh and aah over, but there’s a lot of junk too. My plan was to confine and deal with it immediately before it began to spread. So we left it all in the mud room and I asked them to sort it out: trash, keep in their personal tub or keep on their bulletin board. The plan seemed to work! They all did it except for one who decided to throw a fit, so I did it for them. Perfect!
So I learned this week that I need to be vigilant about not letting the stuff come into my home in the first place. Vigilance – that’s the hard part.