I went to Target yesterday.  I needed milk.  It just seemed like a more entertaining outing for Luke to go to Target than the grocery store.  I should have spent $1.99 but instead, I spent $189.00.  And no, I didn’t buy big colorful bins to hold the abundance of toys in the basement, a new iron to replace the one with the huge crack down the side, a vacuum so that if someone tracked dirt into my house I wouldn’t have to wait two weeks for the next cleaning lady visit, or much needed new towels for the guest bathroom.  No, I didn’t buy any of those things that I could have written off as necessities.  I bought 5 new matchbox cars for Luke’s ridiculously growing collection, 2 new kid’s CD’s for Luke to listen to in the car, a new tennis skirt for Hannah in pink since the blue one she has is, well, blue, a Princess and the Frog t-shirt because it was the first movie Hannah and I saw together, a flowery tunic in size 5T because if they had had it in my size I would have bought it for myself, a pair of jeans for Hannah because, you know, you can never have enough jeans, a pair of mini girl yoga pants because you never know when a 5 year old will want to take up yoga and Toy Story figurines because Hannah and I were seeing Toy Story at her school last night and I thought she’d like to have them to play with after seeing the movie.  We needed none of it.  Hannah wasn’t even with me begging me for it.  I just wanted to buy it all.  I knew it would make the kids happy, so it made me happy to spend the money (that I really don’t have to be spending on these unnecessary things).

Spoiled.  I looked in the dictionary.  It clearly states, “to impair the value or quality of”, “To damage irreparably”.  That. Sounds. Bad.  I know when I have a container of milk in my fridge that’s spoiled, I toss it out.  A loaf of bread with blue growths sprouting out of it?  In the trash.  I do whatever I can to keep my perishables from spoiling.  I spent at least a hundred dollars on containers for my cupboards to keep things from spoiling.

So, why is it so hard to NOT spoil my kids?  Am I really doing irreparable damage to them?  Am I diminishing their value just like the bananas that have more brown than yellow sitting on my counter?  Why do I do it?

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this as I judge other people for spoiling their kids and I look at why I never seem to have enough money to get me through the end of the month.  I realize that I’m doing it for ME.  To make myself feel good.  I feel guilty spending money on myself.  If I’m spending on them, I feel like I’m doing a good thing.  Being a good mom.  Hannah is an amazing gift receiver.  The smile she gives me when I show her what I got for her, her way of THROWING her arms around me and telling me how much she LOVES it and me, melts me.  I love that smile.  I love that feeling.  But I know, she wouldn’t have known the difference if I hadn’t bought it for her.  She would have loved me just the same.

I also realized that I buy all of this “stuff” to help me.  A few new cars will keep Luke amused while holding them at the grocery store.  A new dump truck will busy him for the thirty minutes it takes me to cook dinner.  The new music for the car keeps his head bobbing up and down and his face smiling in his car seat (and gives me one more way to drive dangerously as I try to focus on the road AND and watch him giggling to the new tunes).  The figurines for Hannah allow me an hour of quiet time while she recreates the movie on the family room floor.  The new shirt means one less argument in the morning in an effort to get her dressed.  New books=excitement for bedtime.  All this stuff… is really for me.

If you could SEE my kids dresser drawers.  If you could SEE my basement, the playroom, the family room.  You’d know, just like I do, that there Is No More Room for this stuff.  It’s almost like an addiction.  Some people eat to make themselves feel better.  Drinking takes the edge off.  Drugs bring people to another, happier place.  I buy.  Little things from inexpensive places, but I still buy.  Because buying brings me some sort of satisfaction.  No, my credit cards are nowhere near maxed out.  No, I don’t buy things and hide them from my husband.  I am (generally) careful with our money.  But when I can, I buy for the kids.  I’m lucky I can do that.  I’m lucky that we do have some disposable income that I can spend but I should be spending it on meaningful things.  Things that in two weeks won’t be forgotten about, tossed aside, grown out of.  Things that won’t “spoil” my children.

I don’t want my kids to expect the world to be handed to them.  I want them to feel like they have to EARN their keep.  I want holidays to feel special when they get gifts from us.  I want to always see that glimmer in their eye when they are handed a wrapped box.  I am so careful to be raising polite, healthy, friendly, kind kids.  I also want to be raising grateful kids.  Thankful, appreciative kids.  And it scares me that in my generosity (and at the same time selfishness) I may be doing “irreparable” damage.

I need to realize (as I tell the grandparents in my kids life) that the TIME I spend with my kids is what matters.  Not the tangible things I give them.  Baking cupcakes, making a paper mache head, finger painting, making a house out of a cardboard box, creating a volcano, building a snowman… THESE are the things they’ll remember.  That I’LL remember and treasure as a wonderful memory.

And with that, I’m heading out to Target and returning what I bought yesterday.  Except the cars because they’ve already been pushed through the mud.  And the Toy Story figurines because they are the reason I had time to write this blog post. And the milk.  Because we really did need that.



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28 responses to “Spoiled

  1. I remember feeling just like you did…now it feels like a hundred years ago. I, too, spoiled my kids. I so enjoyed watching their joy as I handed them the little matchbox car or the small multi-colored football. I watch them now, age 13 and 16, and they don’t act like spoiled brats. Somehow you figure out a balance. You teach them to be compassionate people and you love them. It sounds like you are doing great.

    • Thank you for making me feel better about it Terry. Maybe it’s better that I do it on my own accord instead of appeasing my kids every request. I actually say no most of the time when they are asking for things but when I’m alone, and see something I know they’ll love, I can’t help myself!

      Thanks for coming by and I’ll be by your blog soon!

  2. You’re really returning it? Wow.

    I’d like to buy my kids all that stuff, but I can’t. They do have all they need and extras, too, but our budget doesn’t allow that kind of shopping…or I would spend like that.

    • Yes, I am. Hannah really doesn’t need the clothes and they added up to so much more than I thought they would. So, I’ll feel better if I return them. I’m not good at making choices when it comes to spending money. I’m such an impulse purchaser and then I’m left not being able to afford the things I could really USE. It might sound from my post that I have all this money to spend, but I don’t… I have to be better at choosing what it is I spend it on!

  3. crnnoel

    I went through this a few months ago… when every time went to Target Fynn expected to get something. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. But it made me feel better. Because we can’t give them a lot of big things, but the little things? Sure! Until I looked at our checking account and finally added up how much the little things (that ended up in the trash after a month…) were adding up to. Crazy!
    But I so know where you’re coming from. We did a minimal Christmas this year, and it really warmed my heart to see how much my kids appreciated a few new toys (and then how overwhelmed and they were when the grandparents came bringing toys from them as well as a few other relatives… and that just made them terrors because they were so maxed out…)
    It’s amazing how little they need to be happy, in things. You’re so right, it’s the time we spend with them, the moments that make a big difference.

    • It makes me nauseous to think if i just saved all those $10 “little” purchases how much I’d have today to buy something BIG! I guess it’s the little things that bring me joy though… today Luke spent over an hour playing with a plastic bowl in the sink. It hit the point home again, he really doesn’t NEED anything!

  4. What a universal challenge. Lately I find myself offering Big Boy things he doesn’t need at all when he’s still – at 2 – content with simple blocks or toys he’s created. And why am I doing that? I wonder. I know that it’s partly an expression of love. But what else am I trying to buy? What else am I trying to prove?

  5. ck

    Wow. I read a lot of myself in this post.

    I think I might just take some things back to Target as well.

  6. Oh jeez, and Target has so many cute clothes in right now, too.

    😦 pooh.

  7. This is me, as well. I think I’m constantly trying to give my kids all the things I didn’t have as a kid, like the Barbie dolls that went through five older sisters before they got to me, armless and legless. To make up not so much for deprivation as just a sense of deprivation – I wanted to be spoiled and to have a girly bedroom, but instead I was shoehorned in among many. Of course, I can’t fill a hole inside of me with stuff for my kids because they don’t have that same hole. It’s my problem not theirs.

    I wonder what my husband would say to a frilly canopy bed and bead curtains at this late date?

    • Ha! I’d give it a shot! If he’s like a lot of men, he might not even notice!

      You bring up such a good point here. One that resonates with me as well. I certainly wasn’t “deprived” as a kid but my parents were never impulse purchasers. I’d never be at the store with them and have them just buy me something for the sake of making me smile. I’d never come home and have my mom say, “look what I got you today!”. Maybe I’m giving my kids what I always wished I had when I was little.

  8. lz

    It’s hard. You see things that you know would make their faces light up, and have to balance that with teaching them to wait for things, or save, or hope.
    I had a funny conversation with a friend the other day and it actually put me off quite a bit. I bought M a stuffed animal, and this friend (who was babysitting M for me) asked me why I bought it for her, knowing her birthday was last month. I truly didn’t get what she was saying. Why wouldn’t I buy her something she wanted?
    I think there’s a happy medium between buying everything they/you see and buying nothing, except for occasions. I’m sure you’re right there in the middle and doing a great job…

    • Yes, definitely, I’m trying to find the happy medium… somewhere that will still make me happy that I can make them smile with little things but not have them start taking my purchases for granted.

  9. I am sooooo guilty of this also. I need to improve a great deal in this area. Good for you for taking stuff back!

  10. I think we’ve all been there, at one time or another. Especially when we see great deals, and we need those little extras to give us 10 minutes to ourselves. (In other words, especially when kids are still pretty little.)

    And I’m pretty impressed at everything you’re taking back! (You’ll probably need to pick up more milk anyway.)

    • It hurt a little bringing back the cute little clothes but it felt good… I need to make sure my kids always appreciate all I get for them and if I keep buying for no good reason, I fear they won’t.

  11. It’s not you, it’s Target! That store is so freakin awesome that you want to buy everything! lol I am guilty of this as well….which is why I ALWAYS get them each something in the dollar bins at Target. Two bucks and my kids are happy. 🙂

  12. As the mother of a 1-year-old, who can yet neither nag nor thank, I really appreciate this post. It is so easy to slip into a mindset where tangible things come to represent intangible love. But the beautiful thing about children is that their love is not contingent; on gifts or gimmes; on surprises or bribes.

    As my son grows into an age where new toys and gifts bear more meaning I will try to think back on this post often, and resist similar pitfalls to which I am also woefully prone.

  13. As parents I think we all struggle with this…it’s amazing how in those moments when we are trying to teach our kids how much we learn. Luckily I now live 30 minutes away from the nearest Target (my favorite store) so it’s a treat for us just to go to the store!

  14. Karri

    Target is awesome but it’s definitely not easy to get out of there without spending at least $100 per visit. I keep my potential receipts of things I’m thinking I should return and then when it’s 89 days (since they have the 90 day return policy)…then a the last moment, I make a decision. Often I figure out a way to keep it. I need to take this post into mind and think do we really need that? xoxo.

    • Karri! Welcome! Love that you’re commenting! So you don’t use the things for 89 days??? Really? That would NEVER work in my house. Once it’s here, it stays…. which is why I’m so proud I returned the stuff I just bought!

  15. When I was a mother of one I would swing between the aisles of Target and buy, buy, buy. I would buy Jamis new toys and clothes. I would buy small things for the house. I would buy things to organize the small things in the house. Target is a joke among many because really, can you get out of there without spending more than $100? It’s near impossible.

    I have recently realized, however, that I don’t buy my kids as much stuff anymore. Mostly because we have so much STUFF already. Mostly because I spend that money on TAKE-OUT because I don’t have enough time to cook because the heathens are ALWAYS HUNGRY SCREAMING CRYING FOR FOOD. And also? Buying less makes birthdays and Christmas that much more special, I think. That said, Max will be 3 next Monday which means I best get my butt to Target!

    • your last point is really why i want to curb my buying the most. I want the things to be special. I want my gifts to be appreciated and not just another token that mommy bought for no reason. The kids don’t need all the stuff… and I don’t need the lack of excitement that I’m afraid I’ll start seeing if I keep buying.

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