Monday, January 9, 2017

Making Do

One of the considerations that makes me hesitate to get rid of things, and one of the reasons I have had to limit my shopping expeditions, is the fear of going without. "What if," my brain says to me, "my family needs (XYZ) and we don't have it?!"

Really, though, when my family is forced to do without a want, it usually is exactly that: a WANT. We aren't missing meals. We aren't lacking health care. We aren't going naked. We're simply being forced to use butter instead of mayonnaise on a sandwich, wear a less-than-ideal sweatshirt, or play a game other than the one we remember enjoying in the past.

For Christmas I gave my husband a game we had decluttered years ago. I don't know how many years, but it was somewhere between five and ten years. We carried it around with us for at least ten years before that. When my husband realized he wanted to play it again (my son is now of an age to play it with him) we survived quite well without the game, and he was very excited to receive it as a gift. In the meantime, we (and they) had shelves of other games we could play.

Would we have been better off keeping that game (and several of it's friends) for the intervening years before my husband wanted it again? I think not. He may have a slightly less emphatic response, but I still think it is worth it to make do in the meantime, and not have everything we want, whenever we need it.

I was thinking about delayed gratification. Teaching this skill to our children is important. We know they need to be able to wait to receive a cookie, or any reward. This is the sort of skill that we need in adulthood. Making do is an aspect of that, and I have been allowing my family (including me) to be the sort of demanding toddler that needs everything whenever we want it.

I WANT a sandwich with mayo -- I'll run to the store today so I can have it. I might WANT that shirt at some point in the future -- I can't deny my future self.

If I do want something in the future and I do not have it, either because I have run out or because I have decluttered it, I need to remember my blessings. And I need to treat my future self as an adult, and trust that she can make do without every whim being satisfied as soon as she feels the desire for something.

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