Faced with an overflowing toy box and fistfuls of receipts for baby gym classes, British mother Hattie Garlick committed to not buying anything for her toddler for a year. Rejecting kiddy consumerism is the subject of her blog, and she’s documenting the clothing swaps, no-cost activities and lack of store-bought baby purees over at freeourkids.co.uk.
This article about her experience made me think about how money and consumption could affect how I raise Peeper.
We don’t spend a ton of money on our daughter, in part because we just don’t have disposable income. Almost everything she owns and wears is either a hand-me-down or a gift. We buy throwaway diapers (reusables intimidate the hell out of me for some reason!), but they’re just about the only Edie-related expense we have, aside from the occasional necessity.
When we traveled to the East Coast in the fall, Peeper wore a sleeper given to us by a friend when I was still pregnant. “Handsome boy,” read a little label on it. The flight attendants got a kick out of it when we pointed out that our baby was actually a girl, and I still think the moment was funny.
Second-hand clothes may lose some of their humor when Peeper gets older, though.
My family didn’t have a ton of money when I was young. We shopped at resale stores, so I wasn’t always up on the latest trends.
I remember trying to hide my off-brand Keds under the school bus seat and the cheek-burning embarrassment when my used Hypercolor t-shirt didn’t actually change colors. Sometimes it was hard to not fit in.
Raising a child who isn’t materialistic or spoiled is important. But I’d hate to subject my loved one to unnecessary ridicule. Surely there’s a balance to be struck here.
I have plenty of time before kids at play dates look askance at my daughter’s wardrobe. But projects like Garlick’s make me think about how we’ll one day handle the protestations of “But everyone else has one!”
How do you teach your kids to do without? Do you find yourself spending a lot on your kids? Do you feel guilty when you don’t?