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Longing For a Simple Life

Photograph by Twenty20

Americans seem to like stuff. Part of the American dream seems to be making lots of money so we can live in big houses and drive fancy cars and play with expensive electronics and wear beautiful clothes. I'm not trying to be a hater, but lately I feel burned out by the all of that. Sometimes I just want to get away from it all and live a more simple and minimalistic life. Funny enough, having kids has only intensified my desire to live simply.

My son is four and he loves stuff. There's always a new toy that he has his eye on. And he is relentless in asking for it. Listen, I love buying things for my kids. I wish I could spoil them, but I just can't. My husband and I are not exactly swimming in money Scroodge McDuck style—and even if we were, would it really make my son happy?

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I've been working hard lately at helping my son see how lucky he is. He really wants for nothing. He has a roof over his head, plenty of toys to play with, food in his belly, clothes covering his body. I try to explain to him that he should be thankful for all the blessings in his life. I try to explain to him that more stuff will never satisfy him.

I want my kids to truly understand that the most important things in life is not toys or electronics—it's love and family and service and togetherness.

He will always want more and more and more. These are difficult concepts even for adults to understand, so I can only imagine how difficult it is for a four-year-old. I can't really blame him and I have to do my best to be patient and understanding every time he starts a sentence with, "I wish I could have…"

I can't help but think if we lived a more simple life it would be better, happier, more fulfilling. We would truly appreciate our belongings instead of discarding them. We wouldn't be overwhelmed with clutter.

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I like to think that I'm a minimalist at heart, but having kids has really multiplied the amount of stuff contained in our house. I want to break the addiction. I want my kids to be bored and use their imaginations to have fun. I want our family to know the beauty of the outdoors. I want my kids to truly understand that the most important things in life is not toys or electronics—it's love and family and service and togetherness.

I know it's really up to us, the parents, to model the behavior. We need to be more mindful of the things we spend money on. We need to show gratitude for our belongings. We need to be appreciative of the simple things in life. We need to declutter and be thoughtful about how we live and speak and shop. We have to embrace simplicity ourselves. Hopefully by watching us our children will learn to love the simple life as well.

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