Which season of the year has the most shopping? Autumn.
From August through December, we are repeatedly blasted with heavy marketing. It begins with the back-to-school sales, continues through the fall holidays, and hits its grand climax at Christmas.
Most of the marketing is aimed right at our kids.
Our parental defenses go up as we sense the danger of over-buying for our kids. Of course, it’s not wrong to let them enjoy some new things. But we also realize that allowing the house become over-run with kid clutter only leads to problems.
What can we do to prepare?
Have a Use-It-Up Summer!
Let me explain what I mean . . .
Chance are, a good bit of what your children already have is consumable. Items like art supplies, play-doh, and bubble solution can be enjoyed, used up, and deleted. Although clothes and shoes last longer, they also will eventually be either outgrown or ruined.
These consumable items will naturally disappear on their own. If we could somehow prevent new stuff from taking their place, we could really make some downsizing progress.
That’s exactly how a “Use-It-Up-Summer” works!
STEP 1: PAUSE BUYING ANYTHING NEW FOR THE KIDS
This is the hardest part. You’ll have to call a family meeting, explain what a Use-It-Up Summer means and why it’s a good idea. Make sure the kids know that this is not forever. The goal is to finish using up what we have now, so that we can have create more room, so that we can enjoy getting more stuff later.
Even with the explanation, the kids probably won’t love the idea, which is understandable. You can absolutely validate their feelings without compromising the plan. If you hold firm to the no-shopping rule, I promise they will get used to the no-shopping plan quicker than you think.
STEP 2: ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE THEM TO USE UP WHAT THEY HAVE
Round up whichever consumables are almost used up, and have a family fun day! Every time a glue stick runs out, or a last sticker is used, or a container of paint is emptied, do a silly little dance with your kids and celebrate the progress.
It will go slowly at first, but as the weeks pass, you will love watching the kid-collection shrink. By the end of summer, you might be amazed at how much new elbow room there is. This gives you a cushion to absorb the extra gifts throughout autumn and Christmas. What a relief!
STEP 3: PRAISE THE KIDS ALONG THE WAY!
It’s not easy to go a whole summer without buying anything new. It won’t be easy for them to watch their water-color set run out, knowing it won’t be replaced. When they do a good job, shower them with encouragement. “I know you wanted to ask for that beading set, but you didn’t. I’m so proud of you!”
It also helps to keep a running list of things they miss. Whenever they ask Santa for something you normally would have bought during the summer, you avoid yet another extra toy!
A Use-It-Up Summer takes effort, but the benefits are definitely worth it:
- The kid-collection shrinks, which means the house is easier to keep in order.
- The family saves money! Who doesn’t love that?
- Your children practice living on less and being content with what they have.
- When the holidays roll around, you are more able to enjoy the incoming gifts without worrying about over-crowding the house.
When the back-to-school advertising starts coming on strong, you will be so glad you had a Use-It-Up Summer! Let’s make intentional decisions now so we can avoid bigger difficulties later.
This strategy of anticipating future problems and planning far in advance is an extremely effective approach in many areas of home-management.
And summer is a particularly opportune time for parents to strategically plan ahead to make the upcoming school-year easier.
In fact, this is the fundamental premise of the newest release from Home On Purpose: Guide to a Smooth School Year
This instructional guide will cover topics such as building strong daily routines, delegating responsibilities to the kids, tips for homeschooling parents, and much more! You might just be amazed at how many school-year frustrations can be avoided with a minimal amount of strategic planning.
By anticipating future potential problems and solving them before they begin, you can pave the road ahead, allowing your whole family to enjoy the school-year journey.