A conscious parenting minimalist holiday gift guide for toddlers

Being a minimalist has its amazing perks: it is easier to get dressed in the morning, I have more money freed up for experiences like travel, and the ability to focus more on life, and living it with less focus on "stuff."

One time when being a minimalist and conscious shopper gets tricky is during the holiday time, especially those certain holidays that involve 8 days of gifts, or loads of presents under a festive evergreen tree.  I do not want my daughter's memories to be fed by consumerist culture, I want to build memories based on family time spent together learning and experiencing life. 

Being a mother and a minimalist means quite simply that I work my very best to purchase or acquire a specific type of toy for my child.  Toys that encourage imaginative play, are made with fair labor standards, can be passed down and stand the test of time. This way, the toys and gifts are selected and curated in a way to add value, and not deplete resources or discourage imaginative play. 

For me choosing a toy isn't about a "good toy" versus a "bad toy", rather it is about bringing consciousness to selecting purchases and what she plays with. Is it beautiful? Does it feel good to the senses? Does it leave room for imagination (or conversely do all of the thinking work for the child)? Will it inspire imaginative play? Is it made ethically, can it be sourced fair trade or second hand, and will it stand the test of time? 

Below are my picks for a conscious, loving holiday.

In my opinion the best gifts are experiences, love and time well spent with one another, but a wooden tool set is also a great addition. 

Wooden Toy Workbench: handmade in USA

Wooden Toy Workbench: handmade in USA

Hammer Balls: made in Thailand

Hammer Balls: made in Thailand

Wooden Tree Branch Blocks: handmade in Germany

Wooden Tree Branch Blocks: handmade in Germany

Sensory Activity Play Pack: Fair Trade, assembled in Nepal

Sensory Activity Play Pack: Fair Trade, assembled in Nepal

Waldorf Doll: handmade in Brazil

Waldorf Doll: handmade in Brazil

Dolls and lovies with sensory appeal and without fixed faces help a child develop their sense of exploratory imagination.  Imagine cuddling a plastic hard toy with a fixed grin and playing a nurturing mother to this item? Children love to emulate and imitate adults and their daily activities. By giving children objects that are not fixed, that are malleable both in touch and image, the child can use that toy for more than one thing.  A doll with a less fixed emotional face gives their imagination free reign. Waldorf dolls are warm and soft, so they are appealing to the senses and have a calming effect on a child. This minimal face helps the child cultivate their inner picturing abilities. 

Playsilks: Fair Trade from China and USA

Playsilks: Fair Trade from China and USA

Playsilks can become a cape, a veil, a belt, a fort, a den, waves, a baby blanket...the list goes on.  As a vegan I searched for ahimsa silk or non-silk playsilks but did not find any that were overall as eco-friendly and responsibly made as Sarah's Silks. If you have any other suggestions, please comment below. As always, finding these bright beautiful silks secondhand would also work. 

Bolga Basket: Fair Trade from Ghana

Bolga Basket: Fair Trade from Ghana

Olive Wooden Bowl: Handmade in Germany

Olive Wooden Bowl: Handmade in Germany

Wooden Spoon Set: Handmade in Jordan by disadvantaged men and woman

Wooden Spoon Set: Handmade in Jordan by disadvantaged men and woman

Rainbow Wooden Peg Dolls: Made in Germany

Rainbow Wooden Peg Dolls: Made in Germany

bogobrush, compostable toothbrush

bogobrush, compostable toothbrush

Owl Gourd Maraca: Handmade in Peru

Owl Gourd Maraca: Handmade in Peru

Kid's Musical Instrument Set: Fair Trade Peru and Bali

Kid's Musical Instrument Set: Fair Trade Peru and Bali

With Love + Kindness, 

D

Equality for All?

My work gave us these equality bags to help promote equal access to quality education for all. I appreciate the sentiment, and was using my bag with pride.  Of course I believe in equal rights and that zip code should not determine the kind of education you receive.  

Of course I believe in equality.  

I just finished watching a documentary about clothing and fast fashion called "The True Cost," which illuminated some of what I already know to be true in the fashion industry, and opened my eyes to many other aspects of the industry that are quietly swept under the rug as we search for deals on the racks.  My undergraduate studies were in textiles, but I knew enough not to work in an industry which supports slave labor and sweatshops.  But sadly, like most American shoppers, only knew part of the story and acted accordingly. 

TITLESLIDE_CLOSE_LOGO_WHITE.jpg

 

After viewing the movie I almost immediately looked to the inside of my bag to the tag, "100% cotton, made in India."  No other information is given of course.  How were the workers treated? Where is the cotton sourced? How much are the workers paid to make these bags? What does it look like in the factories in which these bags are made?  

My heart sank as I thought back to the working conditions I saw in the film.

I have to ask now, how the silkscreened word "equality" on this bag actually promotes equality? This bag is most likely sewn and produced by female workers who are paid minimum wage, how does that promote quality? Many factory workers are forced to chose between the education of their children and their low paying factory job, how does this promote equality at all? 

Whose equality is it? 

The message, which I truly believe in, is that we do not want zip code to determine opportunity.  This needs to expand outside of New York City, it needs to expand globally.

IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO promote thE ideaL of equality, while directly supporting the inequality of others. 

As I continue to educate myself around fair trade, sustainable companies which support worker's rights, I will post my findings here. 

For further reading/information about the documentary click here