As a mother of two boys, I have witnessed first-hand how quickly stuff accumulates and interests change. For us, it all started with Elmo and Thomas the Tank Engine, then years of Spiderman and Rescue Bots, with the current obsession being Legos and Pokémon. My boys are 4- and 7½-years-old, and while we’ve outgrown Elmo, the rest we’ve kept. My nest is on the verge of bursting at the seams!
I fully admit it’s my fault; I keep stuff “just in case” we’ll use it again! Recycling clothing and toys has been easy with my boys. I got lucky. My youngest likes a lot of the same stuff his older brother already had, with the only exception being his obsession with Mickey at 3.
Gain Experience. One way we have been able to nest with less is instead of getting stuff for birthdays and Christmas, we ask for experiences for our children. Some examples: Disney gift cards for souvenirs and treats for our trip to Disney World, an annual family membership to the Children’s Museum of Richmond and season passes for Kings Dominion.
Keep It Practical. Another way to nest with less is to avoid buying unnecessary stuff. My husband and I are practical people so when extended family ask what we want for ourselves, we request gift cards so we can buy what we need when we need it so that the whole family can enjoy together.
Decorate Purposefully. We are a bit minimalist so even our décor has purpose. Our walls are decorated with family pictures and kids’ art projects. The items on our shelves are souvenirs picked up from our world travels and much of our furniture has dual-function. Our nest is 1,200 square feet and we don’t have a basement or a garage so what comes into the house must have intent. When getting something new, something old usually must go!
It certainly helps that my children don’t have the need for the latest and greatest toys and our extended family respects our desires for no more stuff. My eldest is phasing out of wanting more “knick-knack” toys and as my youngest outgrows clothing and toys, they are being donated, consigned or thrown out. Books, outdoor play and their occasional screen time is all they really want anyway.
One day, my nest will be less. I will surely miss the clutter and chaos but until then, this girl will dream of her tiny house.
Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons financial responsibility with the less is more mindset.