No More Stuff
I must admit, Target is one of my happy places. I could literally spend hours there, skipping down the aisles while searching for the perfect mid-year planner, picking up a few grocery items, or finding the perfect summer shade of nail polish. If I bring my children, well that changes things. A leisurely stroll becomes “pick up on aisle seven” because one of my three dropped something and it spilled, or I have to send out a search committee because a child has gone rogue. But the worst is the endless barrage of requests and demands, “Can I get this?” or “Buy me that,” all while I say, “Put that back” or declare “NO!” through clenched teeth. I’m tired of buying stuff — no more Legos, no more dolls, and no more balls! NO MORE TOYS! Mommas, are you with me?
Which brings me to one of my newest revelations — making memories trumps collecting things. Between birthdays, holidays, “just because” days, and grandparents, we have amassed a ton of stuff. And half of that stuff they played with only a few times before it broke or they lost interest in it. Yet they always want more — more toys, more stuff, more junk. It’s no wonder I can’t ever keep my house clean. Neither my husband nor I want to raise three entitled children unable to handle life’s “Nos” and disappointments or who crumble emotionally when situations don’t turn out the way they planned. Immediate gratification is uncommon and honestly isn’t healthy; so, we say “No” and we mean it. But we have devised a fantastic alternative. The Cox family of five creates memories. Toys break, kids outgrow clothes, and trends come and go, but memories last a lifetime.
For this year’s Fourth of July holiday, there was no elaborate fireworks display or crowded cookout. Instead, the hubby and I worked out with a couple we adore while all the kids played together in the yard followed by a yummy breakfast. Then we surprised the kids with an unexpected trip to the movies to see Aladdin. We belted out songs and shimmied in our seats to the lively tunes, mesmerized by the brilliant tapestry of colors filling the screen. Once we returned home, I made my mom’s famous pizza casserole, a dish I hadn’t made in several months. It was everything! High fives and compliments for me, plus my oldest sweetly said, “This was nice, Mom. I’m so glad we got to spend time together with just us.”
Then, there’s Lake Oconee, another of my happy places. When we visit, we spend time together and commune with nature. We read books in the hammocks, make s’mores by the fire, ride bikes, and swim in the pool and the lake. There’s not much else outside of the resort and the lake. It’s serene, and it’s perfect. We all love it there, for it’s our special place and gives us the opportunity to really connect as a family in ways that don’t happen amid the hubbub of the everyday.
I urge you to make the shift if you haven’t already. Do this for yourself and for your family. How about starting a travel fund instead of throwing a big birthday party? What if you get your kids to research different trip ideas so they not only come up with some neat ideas but learn a little something in the process? Now you have concocted a geography lesson and they are none the wiser! This is something we do. We ask our children to come up with a few vacation ideas for spring break every year and to figure out things we could do or sites to see at each possible location. Planning a trip fosters decision making skills and teamwork and strengthens family communication. It’s a win-win for parents and kids.
Ideas don’t have to be lavish either. We are currently working on a family dance routine and finding a new dish to incorporate into the dinner rotation. For local travel, we have so many wonderful places to visit here in Alabama, from Sloss Furnace to Vulcan to DeSoto Caverns.
Memories are magical, moments in time indelibly imprinted into our hearts and minds for years to come. Start creating more memories with your family.