Wants and Needs

We all have wants and needs. Do we know the difference though? I think in the modern world, it can be confusing for people to differentiate between the two. Do I need ten coats or the latest phone, when one or two coats and a basic, functioning phone might be alright? It is a subject that Pigeon and Parrot have needed specific teaching on, but I thought that I was fairly alright on this subject until the lockdown of March 2020. During that time, I learnt that I need very little, the rest are just wants.

Over the last five years, our little house and garden has filled up with the possessions of three people, two of them having special needs which can bring a lot of extra equipment. We also have lots of family and friends that like to give us things. So we faced two choices, either:

  1. Get rid of ‘stuff’ so that we have enough room to live.
  2. Or move house!

The latter isn’t a realistic option financially, and we are very blessed to have a modern built house with good wheelchair access in a lovely village. So de-cluttering was our only option.

We have passed onto others, donated, sold or thrown away hundreds of items in the last four years. I could probably only tell you about ten of them. What seemed so important once can’t even be remembered now! In fact, we don’t actually need half the things that we think we do. We humans are a bit like magpies, we like pretty, shiny things and have a desire to collect them (the pretty, shiny things vary from person to person though). The marketing industry hype plays on this making us think that certain things are essential for modern life, to be successful or to ‘fit in’; but we have stripped many of those things away with no ill-effects. We still have loyal friends, despite not being particularly fashionable or owning the ‘latest’ piece of technology. I don’t drive a ‘cool’ car, just one that fits wheelchairs and a special needs car seat in it. No one important to us cares about what I drive, as long as I have a vehicle that gets us around.

Wants and needs don’t have to be purely material things. What Parrot wants and needs are incredibly different things. Before birth his developing brain was exposed to a cocktail of alcohol and illegal drugs that his birth mother was addicted to. This has left him with the desire for big emotional reactions and highs, but that is the very opposite of what he needs. He needs calm, consistent responses and reactions; he needs firm immoveable boundaries; he needs to be told ‘no’ sometimes. He doesn’t like these things much and he seeks to gain control to get what he wants. He also wants lots of material things and tries to fill his room like a pirate’s treasure hoard. His visual discrimination problems though, mean that he needs a visually calm environment in order to be regulated, see https://adifferentkindofnest.com/2020/12/27/doing-things-differently-at-christmas/

Our focus this year will be working on closing the gap between what he wants and needs and helping him to learn to regulate in more helpful ways. As I write this, we have just gone into another national lockdown, which provides us with extra time to really concentrate on this issue. Oh, and we will be having a de-clutter too to help raise funds for Parrot’s new bed, see https://adifferentkindofnest.com/2020/12/29/out-of-my-comfort-zone/ to read about that.

Do you know what you need and what you just want?

Published by N Hadley

Single parent to children with additional/special needs. Interested in eco friendly and frugal living, and recently exploring minimalism as a way to express my Christian faith.

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