How do I keep from spoiling my kids? I mean this in a very materialistic sense – with things, not with love and affection. How do I find the line between giving them what they would love, and going overboard?
It’s been on my mind a lot since Christmas, and then this morning I saw this bed:
Image credit here.
My immediate thought was “wow, what an amazing bed. Hang on a minute, why can’t I be that mum who buys this bed?”
Clearly it’s one-of-a-kind and not the usual fare for regular bedrooms. But if I can afford it, why shouldn’t I get it? I don’t even know if I can afford it, you have to sign up to even glimpse the price. But is this a reasonable thing to do? Why shouldn’t they have it if that’s what I want to give them?
Never mind this bed is about the size of Abby’s whole bedroom at the moment so the logistics are way off, but what if I wanted to get it in the future?
When I was buying things for Christmas, I was keenly aware that I didn’t want to go overboard. I was buying things like easels and paints and things Abby was just starting to get interested in because I wanted to have them for use throughout the year. I also bought her summer clothes and some books. But I wrapped them individually and after about 10 things it started to look a bit much. I didn’t want her to get overwhelmed, or worse yet, start expecting that I had to outdo myself every year lest she carry on Dudley Dursley-style. As it turned out, after opening a little tent, some swimmers and a pair of shoes, she was over it and we had to open a couple of presents each day for a couple of days after. Then what was that teaching her? That Christmas goes for days? (I may be over-thinking that one, she wasn’t even two, but I learned not to make that a habit for when she is more aware.)
So I’m not exactly Scrooge McDuck rolling around in piles of money, but I have more than I did when I was growing up. I like my kids to have nice things and I fully intend to teach them the value of what they have and to look after it, in age-appropriate ways. I intend to have them volunteer and to regularly give away toys they don’t want or need any more. But I will buy them the latest thing if they want it, just because I can. And it’s fun to have toys and things as a kid. But how do I not raise a brat? One who knows her mother will buy her whatever she wants because she’s fricking adorable? What are the best ways of teaching them delayed gratification so by the time they get that LEGO set they really wanted, it means that much more to them? What’s the balance between buying them nice things and making them wait? I also think it’s a good idea to help them put money away in order to pay for something larger that they want. But is buying them a My Little Pony here and there for no good reason except they asked going to undo all the important things I want to teach them?
Having said that, I’ve never bought either of them a My Little Pony, but I might one day! I never had them as a kid and I was supremely jealous of all who did!
I was chatting to a friend recently who did grow up comfortably, and had lots of lovely things. She is completely grounded and works her ass off the the cool stuff she buys her kids. Sometimes I leave there via the shops because Abby finds something she likes to play with and I want her to have one at home. I don’t know if that’s weird or normal. I purposely didn’t buy her very much when she was younger as I figured kids were happy with pots and pans and empty boxes. I realised I was doing her a disservice and that a variety of things to play with is good for her development. So now I feel like I’m just stocking our home with things that they will use and play with for a good long while yet, rather than just buying her millions of toys because she’s a kid and it’s fun. But I’m buying these things outside of birthdays and Christmases and the usual times one would expect to buy items for children. For her recent birthday she got a lovely little wooden kitchen and some natural wooden blocks finished with beeswax. In six months it will be Pepper’s birthday and they’ll get some more things to play with, and the same at Christmas. I don’t buy them things on a whim very much (I loathe going to the shops!), although it does happen. But when they’re old enough to ask for them, and I’ve got the spare cash to buy it, I hope by then I’ve figured out how to do it without creating materialistic monsters.
If you have figured out this balance, please let me know! Or if you had parents who were generous with things but also taught you the value of them, hit me up. And if you had a My Little Pony, can we be friends?