I feel like I've been struggling with materialism lately.  Not only 'wanting more stuff' but also 'making more money.'  Maybe I feel like I don't contribute enough since I'm 'just' a stay-at-home-mom.  Or maybe I want to justify some of the things I do buy (though I'm trying to be frugal).  Or maybe it's just how easy Pinterest has made bookmarking my every desire.  But I've found myself making more and more lists of things to buy and to make and to sell.  I'm devoting more and more time to tossing together crafts to sell.  I'm taking bigger chunks of naptime to freelance write for pennies an article.  Somehow it makes me feel like I'm 'contributing.'  But I'm not.  I'm neglecting my priorities in an attempt to make money that I don't need - and doing things not for the love of doing, but for the want of money. 

And as for those wish-lists, well.... We're having a garage sale this weekend.  A LOT of work has gone into preparing this garage sale.  And what is the number one item we have to sell?  Toys.  Some that have almost never been played with.  Some that are only a couple of months old.  Some that I've been hoarding in boxes for most of my life.  My kids have their set of 'favorites' plus a couple of backup boxes I rotate in when they get really bored.  And even then I often find them playing with bowls and spoons from the kitchen, making trains out of the dining room chairs, or simply jumping on the bed.  So why do I make elaborate Christmas lists?  Why ask for toys they'll probably never play with or books they'll tear to pieces?  I should be filling the list with things they'll need, like winter sweaters or a spare water bottle.  And then I should be thinking very carefully about quality gifts - not quantity of gifts.  I'm thinking of shopping after-Halloween sales to make them a costume box.  I want to help foster their imaginations and they have great fun changing identities as quickly as they can change hats.  They'll get months of fun out a few dollars worth of gifts if I can fill their stockings with imaginative play.

All that money I'll save on my (hopefully) diminishing materialism I can start throwing at all the 'great causes' I've been coming across lately.  The famine crisis in Africa.  Child trafficking syndicates in India.  Operation Christmas Child, our three sponsored children, friends who are going through a rough patch, foster children in America, people without food.  The needs I see every day that touch my heart are having to do a great battle with the wants I come across every hour.  Oh, that's cute, my kids might like that.  For a day.  Oh, I like that, I might wear it.  For a week.  Oh, that looks yummy, I could eat that.  And get fat. 

So here's my plan of action:
1) Stop the sensory overload.  I need to be careful what shops I frequent (online and brick-and-mortar), what blogs I read and how long I spend on Pinterest.  I'm vowing to turn the computer off in the morning, and leave it off till nap time.  This will give me more time to lavish on my sweet babies, and reduce the amount of 'stuff' I will see and subsequently want.
2) Ask myself "Can I make it?" and "Is it worth it?"  When I really want something, I'll ask myself if I can make it myself instead of spending top dollar to buy it.  Either way, I'll examine whether that item is really worth the time I would spend to make it, or the money I would spend to buy it.  Odds are, it's really not.
3) Only create what I love.  I started my online shop to sell the crafts I made in my spare time.  I love crafting, it's relaxing and a nice outlet.  But lately I've been feeling pressured to build up an inventory so I can really start marketing.  Why?  I don't need the money.  If stuff sits in my online store for ages (or indefinitely), what does it matter?  I enjoyed the process, and that was the point.  With three tiny kids, I have a full time job.  I don't need to be adding manufacturing to my job description.  So, I will craft when I have the inspiration and motivation (and time!) and if it sells - awesome.  And if not - no big deal. 
4) Find ways to give back.  If I see a cause that I feel passionately about, I will redirect resources to help out.  If it means eating stew and rice and beans for a week so we can send some money - great.  If it means leaving the kids with Daddy for a night so I can help babysit for a friend who needs it - great.  If it means spending a little more time on my knees in prayer - even better.  And if it means giving up some of the stuff stuff stuff that is eating away at my life - win win win win. 

So that's my plan.  Now I'd love to hear from you.  What do you struggle with most when it comes to materialism?  Do you have any special tips for staying focused on priorities and clearing the clutter (mental and physical) out of your lives?  Any additional thoughts?  Feel free to keep me accountable on this - I know I'm going to need it.
 


Comments

08/23/2011 13:19

Well said!
I can relate to everything you just wrote about. When my daughter was born and I quit my full time job it was SO EASY to get sucked into the internet. Everything about it from amazon to etsy, etc. I found myself looking around at what others had or were doing and wanting the same for myself - when I really didnt need ANY of it. Day to day, every time I see something new and find myself wanting (instead of needing) I make myself sleep on it. I walk away from the computer for a few days and get back to real life. Usually that does it for me and puts out my desire for "stuff".
But, the will power is SO hard to find sometimes!
I wish you luck :)
~Katie
Punkin Heads and Dooda Loo's


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