But it's ok. It will bounce back. I've been struggling to just take care of my home and family. Hopefully, I will be able to be back blogging with you soon. I am planning on putting together a program that can help us all be better managers of our homes, family, and work--while at the same time making sure we are not neglecting our spiritual, personal, and emotional lives. It'a a lot to juggle.
I will admit that when I saw this concept a few years ago, I thought it was great and jumped right in. Lent lasts for 40 days. The idea was to give away a bag of stuff for everyday in Lent, signifying detachment, charitable giving, and at the same time, keeping your house clean. By day 4, though, I started cheating. And by the following week, I completely gave up. This isn't because my home is so streamlined and uncluttered that I couldn't find anything to stuff into a bag to give away, but rather, I got busy with life.
I just didn't have the time or emotional energy that it took to find a whole bag of stuff to give away almost everyday.
Besides, doesn't anyone else struggle with a guilty feeling of being wasteful? I mean why am I throwing this stuff away that I paid good money for or someone was thoughtful enough to get it for me?
Sure, we could think of donating our goods as a way to be charitable. We are giving our stuff to those in need. But let's get real. Do you think that most of the shoppers at the Goodwill store really need our stuff? Sometimes I think we are just enabling people who are poor by American standards to live a cluttered, materialistic life. I've worked with poor families in our city. Their homes are not desolate and bare. They are usually loaded with stuff. More "things" are not what they need. In fact, their children wore better shoes than mine in most cases. I won't try to address the problem of charity and the poor in this article. Let's just do some self-searching and look at our own problems first--just in time for Lent.
Do you really think that when you donate your stuff to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or some other organization that they will find a "worthy" home for it? Do you know how much stuff that these places dump into landfills on a daily basis? I am not against supporting these organizations even though the CEO of Goodwill makes over a 6-digit salary a year. I am just against thinking that we are being magnanimous because we part with our stuff to them. I just think that instead of emphasizing getting rid of stuff, we need to look at the other side of this problem--accumulating stuff.
Now don't get me wrong. If any of you have been reading me for any length of time, you know that one of my mantras is to "unclutter" and "get rid of stuff." However, lately I've been asking myself, "Is there a better method then just going about and grabbing stuff to get rid of?" Does this get to the core of the problem?
KonMari? Well, at least that would slow us down enough to look that toy squirt gun or better yet, beanie baby number 35 straight in the eyes and say, "Do you bring me pleasure?" At least that beats the grab and toss method. However, the KonMari method is flawed and won't work for me because unlike Marie Kondo of this "Japanese Method of Tidying Up," I live with 5 or 6 or often more people in my house. Most of the possessions in my home do NOT bring me joy in themselves--they are not suppose to. They bring me joy in a roundabout way. They are for others. Sometimes these possessions are for my husband, or kids, or grandkids, or neighbors, or church youth group, or sometimes, like my new Bujo markers, they are for me! I like some of the ways of the KonMari method--but overall, it doesn't fit my philosophy of life. My home and everything in it are there for one reason--to bring me closer to Jesus. Period. This is how we should think about all of our possessions in our home.
But that doesn't get to the root of our problem of accumulating stuff that we feel we just need to randomly toss into a bag and throw away. Our problem begins when we bring the stuff into our home. Perhaps this would be a better approach to follow during Lent. By all means, if you have a lot of stuff, clutter, etc., that you need to get rid of, do it. I am in the process of cleaning out our mudroom as I write (and I'd rather write than clean, but clean I must, so I need to finish this blog entry soon!)
Finding a few things everyday seems kind of random and not really thought out. It also seems like a shortcut to finding the proper place to store something. I know I only use our fondue pot once a year, and it takes up precious space on the top shelf in my pantry--but oh how our family loves our Christmas Eve Fondue! Give that up? Never. Or worse, buy a fondue pot every year? And what about a few extra coats around? Some would say get rid of them. But honestly, I've been able to literally fulfill Jesus' words: "If someone asks for a jacket, give them your coat as well." Extra swimsuit so a friend can go swimming? Sure. We even have extra bikes so visitors can ride, too. Are these clutter?
This is not a minimalist approach--but it feels more hospitable and Christlike. I've struggled with the minimalist approach versus keeping everything. Are you the mom who saves all of your clothes for the next child or don't bother and wait for providence to dump more on your doorstep or just simply go out and buy more?
There is a fine line to walk. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are cleaning out:
What we need this Lent is to bring 40 bags less into our house. Less clothes shopping. Less decor. And yes, even less food. We need to change our mindset when it comes to buying presents for our children and spouse. Most of us do need less stuff, so let's look at what we bring into our homes in addition to what we are taking out of our homes.
This is the beginning of the conversation. How do you walk this line of having too few vs. too many possessions? Being good stewards of the gifts God has given you vs. getting rid of stuff not used so often? Constantly having to pick up things because you have toooooo much stuff vs. having enough stuff to keep everyone happy?
I hate to admit it, but I dread "Family Game Night." And if you assumed that I faithfully schedule one of these nights at least once a week--you would be terribly wrong. It's like you read in the title. I dread the thought, so I don't have this as part of our weekly schedule.
However, there is something special that happens every time our family gets together to play games. There is laughter, excitement, and real family bonding. My kids of all ages actually look like they are enjoying each other's company.
For this reason, I not only put up with these occasional family game nights, I actually encourage them and plan them. (I'm not so sure why I dread them so much. It seems that once I get over my own selfish desire to sit at my computer or watch Netflix and get the game started, I find myself having a really good time, too.)
Notice that I said both the words: occasional and plan. Occasional for us means that we do these family game nights every few weeks--maybe once a month. This happens on some birthdays, New Year's Eve, Christmas, Mardi Gras, and vacations. And plan, meaning, that I schedule these game times for particular celebrations and gatherings.
If you are in one of those families that has a scheduled game night once a week--God bless you! This is truly a wonderful thing. Savor these times. It does beat video games and TV, hands down. I think we might have had a brief moment in our family life where this happened for us, but neither myself nor my husband had the energy to sustain this.
Our solution for having a few family game nights is to start the tradition of playing games on certain occasions. One of these is Mardi Gras. And if you are reading this article when it was published, you, too, can have a family game night in conjunction with Mardi Gras. Go ahead and plan for that one hour of family game time now and you can alleviate your guilt from not doing this regularly.
And how about this idea: plan a family game night weekly during Lent! I know we think of Lent as dreary and not fun, but turning off screens is a great penance for the kids and what a penance for us--instead of "giving up something" for Lent, actually make a penance of "doing something." This is just a thought. I'd probably rather wear burlap or put a pebble in my shoe.
At this point I do sympathize with those of you who have children all under the age of 8. Your family game night will consist of Go Fish, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, and the game I absolutely abhor--Candy Land. You've got some other fun alternatives of the likes of Cadoo. Family game night doesn't really start to get fun until you find yourself actually trying to beat your kids instead of you trying to lose all of the time. I felt I was in this stage forever! But you know what everyone tells you, "These days go by quickly--enjoy them!" And I can't agree more.
Currently we have a few game nights that also include the grandchildren (all under the age of 6)--our best game that is fun for everyone is BINGO--but it is only fun for everyone if you have some good prizes. We do this over the holidays.
I am going to suggest some of our favorites some work with best with large groups and with small. They are best for the age of 8 and over, but of course letting a younger child be on someone's team is always an alternative. (Sometimes this is a good handicap for your overly-aggressive, high-achiever game player. (Dad?))
[I am putting my Amazon link on these pictures--not so much so that I can make a quick buck, but so that you can simply see what games I am talking about. And if by chance you click them, I will raise my earnings by what? $.03? ]
Games that require just paper!
Some of our greatest game moments have happened with these games: Fictionary, Homemade Pictionary and Telephone Pictionary. Both are for large groups (7+ people) Consider these next time you have the whole crew in your midst.
Some of our favorite family games are card games. How great is this? Low cost and so many options.
Favorite card games that takes a special deck
I love the simplicity of using a regular card deck, but these games are a lot of fun and worth having the extra deck along.
We also have had many fun nights playing both Five Crowns and Phase Ten. And if you would like beginner look at Poker and a taste of a few other card games, we also love to play Tripoli. We often use real pennies, nickles and dimes! (We've tried Poker and Black Jack, but these haven't seemed as much "fun" as these other card games. Maybe we're just not that good, yet.)
A few of our favorites for your game cabinet
For games that make you think but are still fun, we have Bananagrams, Scattergories, Catch Phrase, and Wits and Wagers
For games that are just crazy, we like both Apples to Apples and Pit. In a Pickle gets a little silly--but could be under the thinking games, too.
For a long slow evening. . .and boys! I do dread starting these, but end up enjoying them. . .are Risk, Monopoly, and Catan (and no they aren't just for boys! I am speaking from my mostly boys-only existence)
And finally one for your Iphone (Ipad works better if you have a larger group because the screen is bigger--just hold it in front of your chest) is Heads Up App.
This game is played sort of like charades with teams of players trying to guess what they are. Lots of fun for a group large or small. And convenient--you can play this if you are all waiting somewhere.
Hope this gives you some inspiration to hold a family game night soon with either some of your old favorites or trying something new. Are there any games that your family has found to be your all-time favorites? Is it any of these? Is it a different one? Is there something that you've played with your family with younger children that all have seemed to enjoy?