How to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids

It can be hard to be a good parent. Too often we solve parenting problems by showering our kids with junk food, toys, and television.  Extra calories, extra stuff, and mindlessness.  This is the exact opposite of what we should be doing as Minimalists.  We need to fix it, and I can show you how.  

Quiz: Are Your Kids Spoiled?

First, take my quiz to determine if your kids are indeed spoiled.  It should only take a minute.

  1. Do you live in America?
  2. If the answer to #1 was no, do you live in a country with strict anti-child labor laws?
  3. Do your children have smooth, uncalloused, hands?

If the answer to any of the above questions was “yes”, then I’m sorry, your kids are spoiled.  You are living in contradiction with the very bedrock principles of Minimalism.  

The situation may seem hopeless, but before you fly to Thailand and sell your children on the black market, finish reading this article.  I can help you turn your lazy fry-guzzling couch potatoes into lean obedient soldiers.

Problem: Your kids won’t eat their vegetables

This is an easy problem to solve.  Playfully joke that “Booboo”, their favorite stuffed bear, will finish their veggies if they don’t.  If they still refuse your lighthearted nudging, turn that smile upside down.  Bring the bear in, forcefully mash his face in their untouched peas, then rip his head off.  Explain that bears die when they eat vegetables, but kids are the opposite: they only die if they refuse to eat them.

Problem: Your kids throw tantrums at the store

We’ve all been there: you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store when little Timmy sees the gummy worms.  You, being a good parent, refuse his requests, but they only increase in tenor.  Soon his sniffles have evolved into a full blown tempest of snot as he cries to the heavens, and more importantly, everyone within earshot.

 Yes Mom (or Dad), you’re in a tight spot.  Your spoiled little kid is so used to getting what he wants that he erupts when he doesn’t get it.  What to do?

When I see this happen my first question is this: has your child been properly leash trained?  If the answer is anything but a firm yes, you need to go back to square one.  Break out the choke collar and make sure your child wears that instead of his normal one (your child does have a collar, right?).  If he so much as sniffs at a gumdrop your automatic reaction should be to rein him in fast and hard.  The tantrums should cease, at which you can go back to a normal leash and collar.

Reader Tip: When leash training your toddler, don’t worry about animal cruelty laws, as they only apply to animals.

Problem: Your kids have too many toys

The quick thinking parent might try to surreptitiously give away or hide a few toys without their knowledge.  This is a mistake.  You need to make them watch as you destroy their favorite play things in clever and sadistic ways.  Terrifying destruction is the best way to teach kids a lesson.

I recommend holding an impromptu funeral for their favorite toys.  Wake them up in the middle of the night and march them into the garage, where your wife is waiting in a gorilla mask.  Place their favorite doll or race car in a circle of candles.  Take turns hacking at them with a hatchet, hammer, or even a rusty wrench.  

When there are only pieces left, douse liberally in lighter fluid and light them on fire.  As the dancing flames cast flickers over their horrified faces, begin your speech.  With a solemn voice utter these words:

“Materials are prisons for our souls.  Their soft plastic and brightly colored paint are the iron bars of our confinement.  Fear not, for flame purifies all.  The smoke signifies our freedom from materialism, and proclaims the death of the toys, which are burning in hell.  Amen.  Namaste.”

Carrying out this fun ritual a few times should be enough to convince them of the error of their ways.

Problem: Your kids don’t know about death

You need to tell them.  Read my guide here.

Problem: Your kids watch too much TV

This one is tricky, because you can’t simply smash the TV in with a hammer while they are watching cartoons and blame their wanton lifestyle.  That would be an easy fix, but then you would need to buy a new TV.  You need to dig deeper.  Excess TV watching is fundamentally a problem of not having enough to do, which is the hallmark of a spoiled kid.

To solve this problem you need to fill their time with substance, and that means work.  Get them to do chores around the house.  All of them.  Being “too young” is just an excuse for lazy kids made by lazy parents.  Any child over the age of 5 should be able to operate a chainsaw, or balance a checkbook.

Start with easy stuff, like washing dishes, mopping the floors, and doing the laundry.  From there, graduate them to more advanced tasks like paying the bills or doing your taxes.  If they can’t read yet then stick to manual labor.  Cleaning the gutters, trimming branches, and changing your cars oil are all kid friendly tasks.

If all the household chores are done and they still have time on their hands you need to invent tasks for them.  I like make my kids collect heavy stones from the front yard and pile them in a wheelbarrow in the back yard.  Then, when they are asleep, I wheel the rocks back to the front yard and put them back.  

Problem: Grandma and Grandpa spoil them

This is a classic dilemma.  On one hand, the free childcare that grandma and grandpa provide while you and your wife spend a week boozing it up in Cabo is invaluable.  On the other side of the coin, the toys, and excess sweets, and television they provide during that week will spoil them rotten.  You try dealing with kids who wont shut up about candy while hungover from a week long bender.

The obvious solution is to threaten to put Grandma and Grandpa into a nursing home if they don’t stop with the junk food.  This could be a win win, especially if your wife’s parents are the ones doing the spoiling, but you would lose the free childcare.  Luckily, there is a better way.

Make it clear to your parents that any food or treat they serve your kids will be made abundantly available at home.  As in, for every meal.  Thus, if they want to give little Timmy a candybar, that’s fine, but if they do, candy bars is what he will be eating for dinner for the next week.  And breakfast.  And lunch.

This new policy should work on two levels.  The first is that you will make your kids tired of the sweets.  After a week of nothing but Skittles and M&M’s for every meal, they will be begging you for fruits and vegetables.  Similarly, the grandparents should notice how Timmy now has a distinct waddle, and decide to tone down the sweets.  And if they fail to realize that their grandson is on the expressway to diabetes, then maybe it’s time for that nursing home.

Flush Your Trash

Think you’ve found every money saving tip you can?  Think again.  A porcelain fountain of money has been in front of you this whole time.  Or rather, under.  By following this one simple tip, you can cancel your expensive trash service, and become “flush” with cash.

Saving money is important.  I should know, I was once over 3 billion dollars in debt.  It was only through scrupulous planning and saving that we overcame the burden.  Now I try and save money wherever I can.  In this case, the bathroom.

If you’re lucky, garbage collection is expensive.  For those unlucky souls without trash pickup, trash is more than just expensive: it’s a hassle.  You have to lug all your trash to the dump, or at the least to a secluded country road away from prying eyes.  

What if I told you there is a trash disposal system already hooked up to your house?  Not only that, but it’s absolutely free and a breeze to use.  That’s right, your toilet.  The porcelain throne.  The excrement express.  The chunky chunnel.  

Your toilet is an efficient waste disposal system, ready to dispose of any and all trash.  You know it works because it has already been “battle tested” under the most extreme conditions.  In fact, you might even be testing it right now.

Getting Started

The general method is simple:  put the item(s) you want to get rid of into the toilet bowl, pull the handle, and watch it whirl away.  Done, gone.  If the item is big you will probably need to cut it into manageable pieces first.  If you aren’t sure, try flushing a few times and see if it makes any headway.  

If a piece of trash gets stuck you can always use a plunger pull it out.  You don’t need to worry about blockage down the line either.  Sewer pipes only expand as they leave a house. If that old meatloaf can fit through the flush hole, it’s gonna make it all the way to the ocean.

Reader Tip: you can flush everything: junk mail, batteries, old shirts, and even yard work.

Your system for trash can be as simple as you want.  We originally got rid of our trash can and just threw items directly into the toilet.  When it got full enough we flushed it.  

It was an effective system, but jarring for guests to see a three day old meatball sub floating there.  That, and our cats treated it as an all you can eat buffet.  There is nothing quite like waking up in the night and stepping on a piece of soggy meat that has been dragged from the toilet.  Sometimes it’s not meat.  

Now we keep one small trashcan by the toilet.  Whenever anyone goes to the bathroom, we make sure to throw a few items in before flushing.  To save water we wait to flush until the bowl is full, no exceptions.  In navy terms that means that a small battleship, or group of smaller torpedo boats, need to wait for an escort from the waste basket.

Flushing Tricky Items

Some items might be harder to deal with than others.

1. Plastic bottles and aluminum cans.  

Use scissors to cut them into small pieces, no bigger than the palm of your hand.  Usually you can fit four or five in a single load.

2. Old Clothes

Larger coats and jeans might need a little surgery, but for the most part you can get an entire shirt or blouse down in one flush.  Tip: If the shirt is having trouble, try pouring a little olive oil into the bowl, this will help improve viscosity.

3. Dead Pets 

Small pets like birds, hamsters, and goldfish should go in one flush.  Larger ones, like a golden retriever, might need a little preparation.  The bathtub is the perfect place to cut them into manageable pieces.  Just snip a piece, drop it into the toilet, and flush.  You might need a saw or an axe for the larger parts, but in a pinch a hammer will do.  Tip: Our bodies are mostly water.  Put Fido in a dehydrator to make him easier to flush.

4. Books

We keep a stack of books we no longer want by the toilet.  When it’s time to flush, we rip a few pages out of the top one and add to the bowl, kind of like a garnish.  This works great, and doubles as a backup in case we run out of TP.  Tip: Nothing beats writers block like feeling the words of a great author gently caressing your inner buttock.

5. Sensitive documents.  

Save money on a shredder by flushing sensitive documents.  Nobody will want to touch a toilet water tax return.  If you’re worried about teenage mutant identity thieves living in the sewer, you can add a little extra sauce on top of the documents before flushing.  You know, brown sauce.

6. Old Leaves.  

Leaves are small enough that you can flush a few at a time, but that might not be enough if you have a lot.  Instead, I recommend breaking them up in a paper shredder.  This breaks them down into smaller pieces and lets you fit 50% more into each load.  Tip: don’t be afraid to splurge!  An expensive shredder can handle errant sticks or acorns that get mixed in.

7. Landscaping

Small sticks can be broken up and flushed just like anything else.  I recommend buying a wood chipper for larger sticks and branches.  These are great for breaking up everything from small sticks to giant logs into tiny, perfectly flush-able little pieces.  Keep a bucket of chips near the toilet and add a handful to each load.  Tip: The wood chipper also works on dead pets that are too big to flush!

Helping Friends and Family

You wouldn’t be a good neighbor if you did not help your friends save money on their trash bill.  Whenever I’m at a friends house I make sure to surreptitiously flush all of my trash, whether it be paper plates and beer cans from a party, or a dead dog that I was supposed to be watching.  

When my friend mentions that their trash bill mysteriously went down while they were gone, I try to act surprised.  As an award winning life coach and I’m used to dealing with praise and excessive gratitude.  If they ask how I did it, I act humble and wave my hand.  If they press I’ll slowly nod and tell people what I always do – it’s an ancient Amish secret.   

Similarly, when friends mention that their dog mysteriously changed color and grew longer fur, I try to act surprised.  If they press the matter I explain that they haven’t lost a dog, just gained newer one.  If they take the loss hard I cheer them up with good news: I flushed two bags of trash and three quarters of a dog down the crapper – they’re going to save some money!

Hack a Bad Habit

I dislike the word “hack”.  Too often it is used to present the same old boring information as exciting and new.  Not today.  The method I’m about to share with you is not only novel, it’s dangerous.  Real knives will be used, and your bad habits will be literally hacked away.

When I talk to my fans one of the most common complaints I hear is that they want to get rid of bad habits.  Smoking, nail biting, auto-erotic asphyxiation, I’ve heard about it all.  Bad habits are like invisible friends that follow us around.  We try and leave them behind, but when life gets tough we fall back into their waiting arms.

To escape your bad habits for good you need accountability.  Sure, it could be a close friend, or maybe your pastor, but these “accountability partner” relationships can get weird, and often backfire.  You need somebody who is not afraid to call you out, or cut off a toe.

So who is that person?  Meet “Slim Bone”, he’s a 6’2’’ ex-con who go out on “parole” by scaling the prison wall.  He drinks about a gallon of beer a day and trims his beard with a 12 inch hunting knife that he stole from the zoo.  He doesn’t care if you’re tired, that cigarette is coming out of your mouth, or his fist is going in.

Slim Bone is your chopper, and my innovative system for ending all bad habits is called “The Chop Method”.  

The Chop Method

  1. Write down all of your bad habits.
  2. Decide on fingers or toes.
  3. Find your “Chopper”.
  4. Sign the contract.

Step 1 – Write Down your Bad Habits

Get a fresh piece of paper and clearly write down the bad habits you want to eliminate.  Junk food, speeding, drinking – get it all on there (note that smoking is not a bad habit).  If you have less than ten items you are either lying to yourself or already a devoted Amish Habits follower.

Step 2 – Decide: Fingers or Toes?

Next is a decision: fingers or toes?  Decide which one you need the least.  Runners might go with the finger, since they need their toes to run.  Climbers might decide they need a toe less.  Whatever works for you, just remember what you decided.

Step 3 – Find Your Chopper

The third step is the hard part.  You need to find a rough and tumble kind of guy who isn’t afraid of a little blood.  It could be your father in law, or maybe it’s the roommate of the guy who hooks you up with weed.  A biker bar could be a good place to look, or even craigslist as a last resort.  

Step 4 – Sign the Contract

Once you have your guy, call him the “chopper”, bring him to the office an attorney or public notary.  Add the following text to your list of habits, then sign it, along with the chopper.

“I have provided a list of bad habits that I no longer partake in.  I have also  provided the executor [chopper] with a list of friends (if I have any) and family.  After thirty days, and every month following, the executor will scrupulously interview everyone on the list and follow me around, to determine if I have partaken in any of the bad habits on the list.  

For each bad habit I indulge in I hereby authorize the executor to remove a toe | finger (circle one), starting with the smallest.”

Even if you don’t understand the legalese, the meaning should be pretty clear.  For every one of the bad habits you go back on, the chopper will take off a toe or finger.  Notice that the contract doesn’t have the words “humane” or “painlessly”.  That would be extra work for the chopper, and too many people would backslide if the amputation was easy.

Reader Tip: The stronger and more deadly your chopper, the more likely you are to give up your bad habits!   

The best part of my system that you can’t escape or get out of the contract.  It is a legally binding document in every state except for Rhode Island and Denmark.  The police will actually help the chopper hunt you down if they suspect you have broken the agreement.

Reader tip: Amputated appendages make great gifts, especially to kids who need a reminder to eat their vegetables.

If you’re interested in the method, but have had a hard time finding an axeman, look no further.  As part of my devotion to my readers, I will be the chopper for anyone who wants to improve their life.  

Helping people improve their lives through semi-voluntary amputations is a passion of mine.  I have several knives which I keep well sharpened and disinfected.  I get the job done quickly and (mostly) painlessly.  If you need a reference, just ask my wife.

Join me next week for a discussion of how to guillotine your guilt.

Have You Tried the Do It Later Method?

“The journey of a thousand miles begins tomorrow.”  -Low Stu

Last year I revealed my powerful system for reducing clutter and organizing your life: the do it later method.  Since then millions of people across the world have been saving their trivial cleaning tasks for later.  If you haven’t checked it out, you should read the original article tomorrow!

The do it later method is simple.  Instead of doing tiresome, trivial tasks like washing dishes the instant you see them, make a mental note and continue what you are doing.  At the end of the day, do all of the tasks that have piled up.  This means you don’t interrupt enriching activities like watching TV or playing video games.

Getting Started Fast

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% waiting until later.” -Thomas Edison

How can you start doing things later, immediately?  Easy.  Look around at all the things you want to get done.  Dirty dishes, organizing a desk, feeding your cat, etc.  For each item, make a mental note in your head.  Then, at the end of the day, do all those tasks!

The end of the day is the best time to get chores done because you have nothing left to do.  All the TV has been watched, video games played, and ice cream eaten.  There is nothing distracting you from glorious uninterrupted productivity.

What if you forget, or don’t have energy at the end of the day?  Relax!  The do it later method is 100% stress free.  Make another mental note, and remember to do it tomorrow.  The dishes will eventually get cleaned, and somebody will change that diaper.

Join the Millions of Devotees

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started (tomorrow).” -Mark Twain

Why should you try it?  Because millions of people already have.  Look around.  Wherever you see a snickers wrapper on the sidewalk, or a rusted out Ford occlusion in front of a house, there is a savvy organizer waiting to do it later.

Your wife may think that laying on the couch for five hours makes you lazy.  What she doesn’t understand is that you are an Amish Organization Master, making detailed plans for everything you will accomplish.  When the clock strikes 11 PM, you will rise from the couch and zip around like a tornado of productivity, unless you are tired, in which case it can wait until tomorrow.

What makes the do it later method so revolutionary is that it is a natural human instinct.  People implement the system without ever having read my inspirational treatise.  Does that mean they owe me money?  In a sense, yes.  I’ll work on collecting that money at the best possible time: later.    

Outside the House

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door at the end of the day.”  -Julian Wickers

Can you implement the do it later method outside of the house?  Absolutely!  All it takes is a willingness to save trivial tasks for the end of the day.

Let’s say you’re out for a hike in a pristine mountain wilderness.  Instead of hauling out all of those heavy candy bar wrappers or empty chip bags, just throw them on the ground, and remember to pick them up later!  The same goes for cans of beer, empty water bottles, and old motor oil – just leave it all on the trail, and pick it up later.   

Maybe you’re walking your dog around the neighborhood when all of a sudden he does the doo doo dance?  Don’t sweat it!  Remember where he went, then come back and get it later.  You can tell when you get to a neighborhood full of productivity experts, because the ground is covered in dog shit.

What if you’re at the Apple store, and you see an external hard drive you want, but can’t afford?  Apply the do it later method by surreptitiously putting it in your pocket and walking out the door.  Remember, it’s not theft so long as you remember to pay them back later!

Life Planning

“If you can believe it, you can achieve it – tomorrow.  For now take a load off and relax on the couch.”  -Julian Wickers

Are you stuck trying to implement major life changes?  Apply the do it later method, and get started tomorrow!

Maybe you are a little overweight and want to become jacked like Amish Habits creator Julian Wickers.  Apply the do it later method by starting to exercise – later!  All you need to do is make a mental note to exercise at the end of the day, just before bed.  

You could get up and run to the gym right now, but why interrupt your web browsing?  Instead, make a mental note and get those push-ups done at the end of the day.  If you’re worried about being tired, eat a pint of ice cream after dinner, and you will have a ton of energy before bed.   

Want to write more?  Or learn a new language?  Apply energy to these tasks at the end of the day, just before bed.  To help get focused, try this technique: turn off the lights and lay out on your bed.  With your eyes closed, breathe deeply and count backward from 1000.  When you get up, you will be refreshed and ready to go!

Have more goals that I didn’t mention?  Check out my simple three step system for demolishing life goals and finding success, no matter how lazy you are.

Testimonials

We reached out to dozens of successful practitioners of the do it later method.    

“I will send you a glowing testimonial about your powerful system later today.” – Joe

“The do it later method is so powerful because it lets you put off inconvenient tasks, like this testimonial, until the best possible time: later.”  – Mr. Stevens

“Finally, somebody put in writing what I’ve been doing all my life.  Thank you Julian Wickers for helping explain my organization habits.  Have a dollar.  Better yet, have my house.  You are amazing.”Bill Smith

“The do it later has had an enormous positive impact in my life, which I will describe in just a minute.  It has helped me accomplish all of my life goals, which I will list shortly.  The many benefits, which I will describe later, make it well worth your time no matter who you are.” -Susan

“Julian is a true pioneer in the minimalism movement.  He says the things other people are afraid to say, and looks good too.  I love him.”Not Julian Wickers

“As a pilot the do-it-later method has made my job a lot easier.  For example, yesterday I found a serious malfunction in the left engine. Instead of a costly and laborious incident report, I decided to make a mental note, and report it promptly next week.”Captain Rick