As a kid, I had a huge love for stationeries. You name any new item in the market, I would have it already. While shifting houses, the biggest box would be a stationery pile. Until last year I would rummage Raghav’s (sister’s son) cupboard for what’s new and to my surprise, he would have already bought an eraser or a pen or a marker or a sticky note for me in my favorite color. It’s quite shameful to think about my bad old shopping habits. But I started to observe, that not only me, most of the kids these days have a mountain of stationeries.
An average 6-year-old kid possesses stationery enough for his lifetime.
Pencil – not less than 10 pieces
Sketch – at least two packs
Crayons – a pack in each variant; small/ fat/ erasable.
Pen – one in each variety Ink/ roller ball/ fine tip/ pilot/ parker.
How do they pile up so many stationeries in such a small age:
No doubt it’s all because of the parents.
1. Return gifts at birthday parties are mostly stationeries – to avoid gender and age difference in giving gifts, parents first choice is a stationery combo pack already prepped and packaged. Hosts, please understand, kids already have piles of them. Even if you give them the latest Disney Frozen print stationery it’s still the same pencil that writes black.
Come up with innovative ideas. Try this- conduct a coloring party on your kid’s birthday. Supply card stock, let the kids make a birthday card for your child. You can eliminate unnecessary chaos/ noise; makes a fun activity; at the same time finish up your mountain of coloring supplies.
Donate – there are millions who cannot afford one.
2. Kids these days doesn’t really know what they want, but they want something – Take them anywhere departmental store or a book store; they will come back with a stationery item. I shall explain the scenario in detail
Before entering the store, Mom advises, ‘Baby you are free to take anything you like but no chocolates, no costly stuff’. The poor kid who doesn’t know what amount is costly for their parents goes round and round the store for half an hour, not able to choose anything quite quickly, comes up with a thing. I have seen this with many kids, It would mostly be an upgraded version of what he already has. What happens next, now Mom goes for a toy hunt. Mothers search for the most educational toy in her set budget that would add value to his course material. The kid gives a big stern on seeing mom’s choice. Now they hunt together. By this time Dad who has finished experimenting his already reviewed and researched new gadget will come asking, ‘Shall we bill’. Neither the mother nor the kid will look at the father’s face to reply, ‘No, not yet’. Standing clueless the kid wants to avoid a fight between mom and dad picks up a reasonably priced stationery. Mom and dad are happy that they have given the kid, his freedom of choice and leaves to home satisfied. For kids it a feeling of, ‘Good that I at least got something’. When kid reaches home, he would play with it for a while and the next day its thrown elsewhere. This is how they have been piling up stationeries.
Encourage children to a have a wishlist. It helps analyze their own interests and priorities. Let them virtually shop, this gives them the opportunity to compare, value and study the product completely in this overstimulated era. When given them the freedom of choice they come up with a lot of strategies and pointers to validate their choice than being overwhelmed. I strongly believe on learning through play and there is learning in everything that interests the child.
Having a wishlist saves a lot of time and money. Over time, certain items in the wishlist lose kids interest which calls for a hunt for what he actually needs, which makes the buy totally worthy and cherishable forever. Make a list of five items(they should be well researched) and give a time gap of at least a month before purchase. I hope this list would be of great help for clueless grandparents and aunts/uncle to help them buy gifts for their loved ones.
3. Back to school shopping – Teaching kids the art of list making will help them in many many situations in life. Give them the responsibility to list what they want, set budget and to shop for what is only on the list. It indirectly teaches them Inventory Management, Financial Mngt, Authority, Responsibility, The value of money, Time and Human effort.
When kids ask me what is minimalism, this is how I explain them:
DN: How many pencils to you have?
Kids : (boastfully) I have 10/12 pencils, one with an eraser, one without, one I bought here, one was a gift from an uncle, one with that print and on and on.
DN: How long do you think these pencils can be sufficient.
Kids : I don’t know
DN: In a week how many pencils do you use?
Kids : I think 2 or 3
DN : Do you finish the whole pencil, before you take another one?
Kids: My pencils have a magic power of vanishing. I somehow keep losing my pencils often.
DN: Do you know how many trees have been cut? How many loads of graphite has been dug? How many tons of earth’s natural resources have been used up? How many liters of fuel has been used to transport these pencils? How many birds and animals have lost their homes because of the trees been cut? How hours your parents work extra to provide you with all comforts in life? How many liters of ink have been used? How many years it takes for the plastic materials in the pencil to biodegrade? All these just to make pencils for you to loose.
Every act is a chain of events. One simple act of yours has a global consequence, that cannot be reversed for generations. Always buy what is necessary, use it properly and care for your things.
To do only what you really love and to own only what’s necessary to survive is Minimalism.
As parents, we should lead kids by example and inculcate minimalism from a young age.