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A Semi Minimalist Mom in the Season of Too Much

Posted by: Kate Published on: December 17, 2017

Minimalist Mom Holiday

Describing myself as a minimalist mom might be a stretch. I have two strollers (umbrella and jogging) which is more strollers than the zero my daughter, Winnie, strictly requires. Winnie also has toys and books and her very own plastic spoons. So, we definitely have more baby stuff than we absolutely need. However, I do embrace the idea that kids (and their parents) can be quite happy with a great deal less than we often think.

For example, Winnie loves to play…with a tissue box. Empty or full, it doesn’t matter. She’ll spend 20 minutes (also known as toddler eternity) with that tissue box. She doesn’t need Sesame Street figures or a Hatchimal or whatever those Pocket Pet things are. She’s quite happy with her tissues, thankyouverymuch.

That tissue box principle is part of what inspired us to start Pip & Grow. A Smitten baby box is baby’s bed for six Polka Dot Baby Boxmonths. Then, it’s recycled (or repurposed). Sure, we choose lovely designs and soft, cotton sheets. But, the goal is to simplify parenting. To make safe choices easy.

So, where does this desire to own the latest and greatest come from?

Look no further than Don Draper and similar, brilliant marketers. Thanks to their genius, we’ve all been conditioned to look for more, to strive for more, to buy more. Cheers to advertising!

This “more is more” mentality peaks around the holidays. From the best-intentioned desire to show our love, we buy each other things. Expensive things. Large quantities of things. If you’re like me, you pay lip service to having a “homemade holiday” but eventually give in and find yourself Amazon-priming a sleigh’s worth of stuff at the last minute.

As a family, we decided that this year would be different. Rather than set an expectation that we wouldn’t do gifts at all (some people do this and it seems awesome, I just know myself too well to expect it of me), we decided to focus on simplifying. Here’s what we came up with:

Secret Santa with faraway friends

I always struggle with friend gifts. Since friends are the family we choose, I want to show them that I care. I also don’t want to be the jerk who receives a gift in the mail but has nothing to send in return. This year a group of dear girl-friends decided to do a secret santa. We drew names and set a spending limit. We’re having a massive google hangout to open our gifts together and celebrate.

Far Away Friend Gift Exchange

Amanda opening her Secret Santa gift

Want, need, wear, read

This idea has been all over the internet. Basically, you make a Christmas list with 4 items on it: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. I tried this for Winnie’s list. It worked ok, but when you have multiple sets of grandparents looking for ideas, the list can be a little too limited. So, we modified the plan slightly to include two things per category. Since Winnie is two, her “want” list included items like chapstick, so I felt ok about the expansion.

One gift Santa

In our house, we’ve asked Santa to just bring one thing. It’s the biggest thing, but it’s just the one. This year, Santa is bringing Winnie a toddler-sized table and chairs. She will love this. She will not care that there aren’t a pile of toys around it. Her stocking will include a few, small items (like the aforementioned chapstick or socks with animals on the toes).

Friend dinner

For our local friends, we’re all gathering to have dinner together. We’ll all get sitters, which is like giving each other the gift of adult conversation. Each couple will bring a dish to share and we’ll stay up too late drinking too much wine (well, except the pregnant ones). Spending time together is the best present.  

I suspect that semi-minimal kid Christmas gets more challenging as the kids get older. They likely become more aware of what friends get and are targeted by the self-same advertisers who brainwashed their parents. I honestly don’t know what we’ll do as time rolls along. All I know is that this is working for us now. It’s helping keep the quantity of stuff under control while also giving Winnie the opportunity to see what the season is really about – spending time with the people we love.

Barr Family

Happy holidays from our family to yours!

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