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.
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