As a family, we have tried to come up with creative ways to work on having a grateful attitude--to be content with what we have. Donnie and I always stress that with the kids, but sometimes forget that ourselves. When I look around our house, I can be tempted to see things I need--new couches, a bigger kitchen, a maid (ahhh, let's think on that one a second....)--and often times I make the mistake of calling them "needs" instead of "wants". Really?!? Do we NEED that new couch? Why am I not content with the couch I have? We have so much and I often forget to look around and see the items as blessings instead of needs. How can I teach my kids to be grateful for the toys, books, clothes, food they have if I'm unwilling to do the same? --even if it's an subconscious unwillingness.
October -- The $0 spending month
When I first heard the challenge of having a $0 spending month, I thought it was impossible. I have a house and car payment, a student loan, those pesky little things called utilities to pay for every month....how can anyone actually spend $0 for an entire month?
Let me explain.
Yes, we are keeping up on our monthly bills. No, we are not continuing unnecessary ones like OnStar or Sirius XM (sigh). Yes, we have allowed bread, produce, eggs, and milk purchases when necessary. No, ice cream, pizza, and pasta did not make the cut (sorry Donnie for those last two). Are allowing toilet paper and deodorant purchases? Ummm, YES!
So technically the phrase "$0 spending" is misleading. The point is to consciously think through EVERY dollar that leaves our account. --Is it needed? What will buying that item accomplish? Do I have something at home that fills the gap just as well, even if it's not our favorite? Do I have food to prepare from our deep freezer or in the pantry? How little can we buy for an entire month?
November -- The "poverty" eating month
In 2012, we did RACKs (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness) every day in December to help get us in the Christmas spirit. It was a special and rewarding time for the entire family. This year, after deciding to do a $0 October, we wanted to carry the grateful and content concept over into the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. [We will be taking a break from Nov 12-18 for Alexa's birthday and a special visit from friends.]
So many people in our world go hungry, and yet the kids complain about having to eat another PB&J this week. Wake up call! The infamous "There are starving children in Africa..." mom line doesn't seem to be working so let's show them how remarkably well they eat by showing them how the less fortunate eat. I plan to use this time to learn and teach about other cultures and countries--not just what they eat, but about their agriculture, exports, past times, income, etc--and while learning about the people, we will eat what they eat.
**I know what you're thinking. Please do not worry about the kids' nutrition or portions. We plan to do this carefully and safely. If the food isn't giving the nutrition or portions the kids need to thrive, I will adjust it subtly (and secretly). My point is to make them aware of what their normal meals consist of vs the children of that culture.
The three countries I have chosen to study have very specific reasons (something that I'm hoping will keep the kids a little more interested and less rebellious). Our first week, well eight days actually, we will focus on Guatemala and will coincide with Donnie's missions trip. Our second week will be split due to our time off and we have chosen to learn about The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lastly, we chose the good ol' US of A (a special thanks to Katie for the idea). So often our family is guilty of thinking internationally for missions and forgets that there is a true and real population of underprivileged in America. Their needs may not look the same as those in 3rd world countries, but that doesn't give us an excuse to ignore or dismiss the issue.
So there is the plan. I will try to keep an honest and accurate diary of our conflicts, discoveries, challenges, and achievements.