This is a guest post from Sara Shay of Your Thriving Family, and second in a series of two on gifts that don’t fit your family (but it’s not about size). See the first installment right HERE, which covers how to thank someone for something you don’t want.
Now for the practical stuff. When you get gifts from family, friends, or acquaintances that don’t fit your eating or healthy living philosophy, what do you DO with them?
Pre-Screen Where you Can
I felt a little weird when I started do in this. But, not only can I remove unwanted gifts, I can limit what they have at one time and set some aside for later. This is really easy to do for gift bags, wrapped gifts are a little harder – but you get inventive.
You are the parent. Just because it was given to them, doesn’t mean they have to keep it, open it or eat it. What happens when the inevitable, “how did you daughter like the whatever” question is asked??? Use your judgement. If my family has genuine reactions to foods and products I am honest about it – and as we eliminate chemicals and unhealthy foods we do have reactions.
This even goes for toys you would rather your children not have. Perhaps you don’t do Barbies, or princesses or guns or violent toys. Or maybe your house is just overrun with all the noisy toys it can handle. You have the right to say no. You have the ability to speak with your children and tell them why.
Teach Your Children Grace and Thankfulness
This goes for us moms as well. Always say thank you. Always smile. Even if it is a corn-syrup, GMO, cream filled, soybean oil chocolate Santa Claus. Take it, pocket it and throw it away later!
We haven’t done any grains for our 15 month old yet; we are waiting till his molars come in. Recently my 7-year-old told me one of her classmate’s little brother’s eat crackers. I explained to her that she did too when she was his age. But I have since done a lot more reading and research. We are doing what is most healthy for our family. This is what is best for our family. Theses are the guidelines our family lives by. That family isn’t bad, they are doing their best just as much as we are. Just as I have learned not to be preachy or judgmental, we also have to pass that on to our children.
Instead of, “no thank you, we don’t eat that” – a “no thank you” will suffice. Many times if it is, “here’s something for the road,” we simply take it.
Lead By Example
Pretty self-explanatory – don’t be the do as I say parent. Be the do as I do parent. Share your struggles with your children. Personally, I have had a hard time kicking soda to the curb. When I am verbal about that with my children, they call me on it! I don’t want my children to have the same struggle I do. I know they will have their own, but there are many I can prevent.
If needed, allow little indulgences. Instead of withholding, which can send children on a binge when they get the chance, create safe places. Allow the small piece of forbidden candy or food when at social gatherings. Split the junk between the family – cause each kid doesn’t need their own fudge cookie.
Seriously! In December, I walked into my kitchen to discover two “chocolate” laden advent calendars. After exclaiming “Seriously”, in my exasperated, I-really-need-to-stop-using-this-as-a-replacement-for-something-else-tone – I put on my boots, walked out the the trash can and tossed it in.
Sometimes it isn’t worth the time, effort and space in my home awaiting a new destination. I know it feels wasteful! But wouldn’t you rather not add that waste in or on your body, or your kid’s?
Bless Someone Else
A while back I remember a thread of comments on Kitchen Stewardship discussing the ethical implications of donating less than healthy foods, like enriched white wheat pasta . . .At the beginning of all my transitioning and learning I wanted to chuck it all! I desired to purge my kitchen and start over. I started viewing foods, cleaners and such as poison. Why would I want to “bless” someone with poison?
The truth is, there are people out there who have no problem buying Cheerios and Chips Ahoy cookies. And there are plenty of families who would be blessed by this food and other items. We cannot force our standards onto others, everyone has to come to their own decision.
Send It Away
I often times purge and fill a large bag with all the junk that has accumulated and send it off to work with my husband. It is out of the house and his students and co-workers get a little something as well! You’d be surprised what disappears in communal kitchens.
Another great place is youth groups or community centers or hand it off to your child’s teacher to add to their kitchen. Ironically, doctor’s offices and hospitals are appreciative of these items as well.
Note from Katie: I can hear you getting your fingers ready now to disagree with this part…and my personal opinion is that I only give junk away to somewhere that they’ll already have exactly that junk that I’m giving and asked for more. So I’m not adding to the mess, just avoiding someone else having to buy the junk that I just moved out of my house. If that makes any sense at all…
If is isn’t perishable and not “too bad” have a stash. Sometimes it is food stuffs, or lip gloss and sometimes smallish toys – that we just DO NOT NEED. Then I have my own little store for kid’s birthday presents, treat bags for parties or the tooth fairy’s stash.
Lose the guilt
After a couple years of doing this, I am over it. Who ever gives us these things truly wants to add to our lives. They don’t want to cause me stress over what to do with it. They aren’t looking to start an internal struggle within me. They desire to bless me and my family the best way they know how.
Now, what to do about those half empty baskets that started this whole rant…
It was clear that I had removed a bunch of stuff from them – they were now half empty. So I simply, combined the baskets from Nana, Grams and the few things I had purchased, into one basket for each child. My children were excited and knew no difference. They didn’t know that there was a grocery bag full of peeps and cotton candy and more. They were happy with what they had! And a few weeks later, about half of what did pass the first filter went to school as well.
Sara is daughter, friend, wife and mama to three gifts. She loved creating, experimenting and learning. Whether it be food, health or crafting. Using God as her foundation, her blog Your Thriving Family is about her family’s journey of balancing frugality and natural living in a broken world.