Can you go a week without buying stuff?
Buying things for our kids is often about making the moment easier or keeping them content. In a recent Globe and Mail article, Becky Blair talks about buying “seemingly healthy fast foods” for her kids. “Once I get home and read the nutrition facts on the boxes I feel buyers’ remorse when I see the amount of salt and sugar.”
This week’s tough question is:
How long can you go without buying stuff?
A week? A month? A weekend?
Many parents feel guilty about the day-to-day buying. In the moment it makes sense:
Oh well, we are at a restaurant, go ahead, order a pop, get the fries instead of the salad, order dessert. It’s a treat.
In parenting, we talk about a Guilt-Anger-Remorse Cycle. We feel guilty that we over spoiled our kids. Then, when they get home and ask for a candy, we feel angry, “Do you not realise that you just had dessert and a pop at the restaurant?”
Then, in a little voice in our heads comes the remorse, “Shoot! I just yelled at my kids about candy. I guess they could have a piece or two. They’re just kids…”
Now, it’s back to the guilt. (Darn those cycles!)
There won’t be guilt if we make a treat an actual treat – if it happens from time to time. When the restaurant meal is every few days or the Starbucks run is each afternoon, it is no longer a treat, it’s a habit.
When we continue to fill our kids with external responses (junk food, stuffies, clothes, etc,) they learn a lot but it’s not necessarily what we want them to learn.
They are not okay without the stuff
They cannot survive not having the stuff
Who they are is what they have
Healthy eating decisions don’t matter in their family
It is not hard to see how this buying habit started. Prevailing culture really sells “stuff”. Families hang out at malls. Screens tell us what to buy, what we “need”.
This month we have really focused on stuff – why we are buying what we are buying. What’s really important is that rather than doing it because everyone is doing it, we need to be intentional. We need to look at what our short term actions are teaching our kids long-term.
This week: Once you’ve bought the groceries, skip the apps, the movies, the video games, the candy, the clothes. Make it a family mission – see how long you can go without adding new stuff to your home. Re-unite with the older stuff.
Let’s teach our kids that they are okay with or without that new thing. Let’s teach them that self-esteem comes from who they are not what they have. That they can delay gratification and maybe find out that they didn’t need that new thing after all. Kids are capable.