Lessons of the Box by the Door

    When money is a limited (or nonexistent) commodity in your household, you refuse to amass debt, yet still want a particular “something,” you can acquire it if creative and patient. Putting out the word, second hand stores, garage sales, dumpster diving, bartering, volunteering, and sweat equity all come into play.

    When deciding when and where to put forth your effort, I suggest the Value Concept.

    My dictionary defines value as “an amount considered to be a suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return for goods or services.” My personal definition is “the willingness to trade something important to you, for something important to you.”

    Since the more value-filled a life is, the richer it is, I approached teaching “value” to my daughter with a “here is an important concept to carry you through your life, let’s see how we can best make it yours” perspective.

    At two my daughter helped make a “let’s find a happy home” container by covering a large box with wrapping paper and plastic wrap. Into it went all the extra toys taking over our home. When leaving, guests stopped by the box at the door to select a something (or two) to take home.

    My daughter learned to enjoy a thing for a while before passing it on for someone else to enjoy. Also, while wonderful to share, it wasn’t not necessary to share everything. Her “lovies” never went in the box because they was special to her ‑‑ had value.

    We all have things, memories (even secrets) we cherish and don’t share.

    As she got older and wanted to make a purchase, I’d ask my daughter, “Does it have value you for you? Is it worth the time you spent earning the money (if earned) or worth spending money given to you (never knowing when gifted money might come her way again)?” She was always selective in her purchases.

    For something new to enter the house, something old had to leave. She would choose whether to keep the Old or exchange it for the New.

    While we had toys growing up, neither my friends nor I had the quantity children have today. No matter how diligent parents are, the “stuff” invades our homes. There is simply too much.

    It is difficult juggling value (the willingness to trade something important to you, for something important to you) with priorities (the order of what’s important to you). Any one thing takes time away from another; consequently you need to trade your time for value because you don’t have extra.

    Whether “Married with Children” or “Single with Children” time is finite. Once the time is used up, it’s gone. Money can be leveraged, time cannot. Even when you pay others to do your housework, yard work, child care, marketing, chores, etc., you still only have 24 hours each day.

    Begin with your highest value priority and work backward.

    Language diversity was highly valued in our home. We had two and want a third. However, because my daughter’s ballet, piano, and school work held greater value for her, with yoga and work (a necessity) for me, incorporating a third language into our lives never worked out. Not because we do not value it, but because we had higher values taking priority.

    By rearing my daughter with the value concept, her life was balanced. With a strong sense of what was important and valuable to her, the activities she choose to participate in satisfied her on some level. She also cherished and valued quiet time.

    Both families and households require maintenance. My daughter and I were a family. She could not be a passive participant in either, nor would I shoulder the maintenance responsibilities alone. Chores are the maintenance means of a very much-coveted end, and were presented as value.

    Now an adult, it is interesting to note what began as an old box by the door covered with wrapping paper and plastic wrap to hold toys started a thought process that taught her well.

    *Enjoy what you have while you have it, then enjoy knowing someone else has it.

    *Share some things but don’t share others.

    *That which is of value to you requires effort to acquire and effort to maintain.

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    Luis Fematt - June 17, 2012 - 7:59 pm

    OMG this is so true and inspiring, I’m glad she learned that lesson. Time goes so fast and it should be used wisely and in a responsible way! Nice doodle and everybody should read this!

    Tana Bevan - June 19, 2012 - 10:05 am

    Thank you. A memory which always brings a smile is my daughter, a toddler in diapers, earnestly helping her friends look through the box for a something special to take home.