The clock is ticking away the final hours of 2011. After sixteen months, I think it's safe to say I'm not going to crack in the next few hours and go on a shopping spree at the local Toys R Us.
In other words,
I DID IT!
In August of 2010 I used Facebook to ask anyone out there who cared to answer whether they thought I could go an entire year without buying toys for my children. Not only did I get some enthusiastic responses, but it was suggested that I start a blog and write about my experience. I began with this post.
Even though it was only August, I'd already bought quite a few toys for Christmas 2010. To be fair, I decided that my experiment had to extend beyond the upcoming Christmas and through all of 2011. In addition to a time frame, I made up some more rules and wrote about them here. At the time, sixteen months, "until December 31, 2011" seemed so long.
...except it really wasn't. And now it's over.
So what did I take away from this experiment?
- I will never see stuff in the same way. Not just toys for the girls, but clothes, gadgets and decorative items for my home. Where I used to buy impulsively for myself when I saw something that caught my eye, now I'm more apt to think about the purchase and it's long term implications. It's fun to stumble upon kitsch from the 50s and 60s at an estate sale or flea market, but what's left after the thrill of the find? Just something else to dust.
- I've learned to value experiences over objects. I put some of the time and effort I spent shopping for toys into providing Little Tiger and The Milk Belly Princess with experiences. They've enjoyed classes in dance, swimming, ice skating, horseback riding, painting and yoga. In addition to teaching them different skill sets, those experiences have helped them develop poise and confidence in a way no toy ever could. Along with different kinds of lessons, the girls accompanied The Mister and I to concerts, plays and other family-oriented events. We all savored our time together and focused on what we were doing rather than the souvenir we would get at the end.
- I got back to my crafty roots. I started sewing again and wonder why I ever stopped. Since August of 2010 I've had the pleasure of creating dolls and loveys for my girls and their cousins and friends. I get a lot of joy from giving handmade gifts to people who are important to me. One of my favorite comments from this blog is this statement by my friend Laura: "Overall I believe that there is a correlation between the quality of the gift and the level of relationship. I think that if it isn't worth MAKING a gift for that person, then maybe a gift isn't appropriate for that relationship." I know that due to time and skill constraints this isn't always possible. (My lovely Aunt Barbara in Hawaii should not feel obligated to carve a surfboard for her children.) But it is good food for thought.
- I discovered new opportunities that I never knew existed. My job at Bayarts came about as a result of this blog. Teaching hand sewing to children who really want to learn and use their creativity to take what I teach them and extend their projects into wonderfully original creations is so gratifying. Without the craftiness that was reawakened by this experiment, I probably would not have become so interested in Zerolandfill and, subsequently, Collective Upcycle which further inspired me.
So what's next? I've decided to continue with this blog. I've always enjoyed writing and this space gives me an opportunity to write for an audience about topics that are important to me without the pressure of deadlines.
I'm going to continue to give my girls handmade gifts, but give myself permission to purchase them when it is appropriate. I'm not sure I'll ever again be able to justify the purchase of dolls or stuffed animals, but I won't feel guilty about buying them yoga mats since that isn't something I or anyone I know can make by hand.