Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm struggling. In this economic crisis, we all have to cut back and "live greener." But it's not that easy. We are accustomed to a way of life. In some ways I think this crisis could be beneficial to America - to bring us back to our roots and away from the commercialism that has claimed our lives. But I'm still struggling.

I want my kids to have it all. I want them to "fit in" and be comfortable with themselves around their peers. And for some reason, I think more "stuff" is going to enable them to do that. When I was a child, my parents couldn't afford to put me in the dance class that all my friends were taking. They wouldn't (couldn't) buy me the jeans with the triangle on the back pocket or the name brand sneakers. My grandma actually bought a pair that were too small for her and she gave them to me. I was in 6th grade and they were a women's size 6. Today - at 30 years old, I wear a kid's size 4. But I wore them. I wanted to fit in and "be cool."

Now, Garr and I don't go all out. There are numerous electronic gadgets that our kids don't have that many of their friends have. We buy them nice clothes - but they come from Target, Old Navy, Penney's, Children's Place - and we use coupons. Eme's response to being allowed to shop at Limited Too once was "Am I in heaven?" I plan for birthdays and Christmas and I worry that it isn't enough and then, it's too much. The kids don't even cherish what they have because they have so much. Eme wants pollies and Barbies for Christmas. Mind you, we had a yard sale this summer, and must have sold 15 Barbies. When I mentioned this to her, she responded, "I know, that's why I need more."

How do I back up and find the right balance and not completely disappoint my kids (because of what they are used to)? I think this is the right idea:

A few days ago, it was mine and Garr's 10th wedding anniversary. (I keep meaning to post about it - but haven't taken the time yet) We spent the day at the Pumpkin Patch with the kids. That evening they wanted to go to a Fall Festival at their school. $5 per person + cost of food, crowded, etc. We said no. They were very disappointed. They had looked forward to this for weeks. We felt pretty bad. We bribed them. We did. But you know - it was the right thing. We came home and carved our pumpkins. We had hot cider and doughnuts and we played a game together as a family. It was a perfect evening (aside from Garr slicing his hand open - he's ok.) My girls had a lot of fun and even admitted (without too much prompting) that spending time together was better than going to the festival!

This is what I want for our family, long-term. That we spend QUALITY time together. Not just sitting together in the same room, while two people are on computers and 3 people are watching TV and someone is reading, but time together connecting. And not so much time running here and there. All this stuff we buy takes time - to go buy it, to set it up, to maintain it, etc. It takes away from our time together.

How can I bring this into birthdays and the holidays? How do we make these events special without spending - without overspending? How do I teach my children these values AND help them maintain good self-esteem - healthy self-esteem, not based on their "stuff"?

This is what I'm struggling with.


Kate said...

Hi Jess :D
I have been thinking the very same thing about Justin. I want him to have it all and to fit in with everyone. Growing up my parents could not afford much luggery items (new close let alone name band, toys ect.) when we go in to a store and Justin sees some thing he wants and it is more that $10 I say no but than he will find a small toy and 99.9% of the time he gets it and plays with it on the way home and then it is not seen again for months. I started to make him get a book instead of a toy and it is not every time we go into the store any more. I have started to talk to him about children who are not as fortunate as we are and that there are children out there who do not have any toys. I have noticed recently that he wants to give his toys to his friends, toys that I know he will miss after the fact.I have been trying to find a way to have him help me donate his toys that he does not use any more so that he can (hopefully)see and feel the joy of giving something to someone that might not get any thing other wise. I am not totally sure about this idea or where to even go.

DOW FAMILY said...

Hey Jess,
I know we often struggle with the same thing...wanting more, bigger, better house, or making sure our kids have what they want for birthdays but not spoiling them at the same time. Tough to find a good balance sometimes. Conversation is great but I am starting to think we have TOO much conversation with our kids and that I'd rather have them see us live it. Have them see mom and dad make frugle decisions or decisions to give. I know my parents are the most generous people I know, that has trickled down into our family and I hope it will trickle down to our kids. Generous with what God has given them in all areas. You know, to those who have been given much, much is expected..I know that doesn't mean material things but I often think of it that way. But, it's tough. I think in the future, we may have to become more frugal, by neccessity. Thanks for sharing!