Money Doesn't Grow on Trees
I probably heard my parents say this about a million times as a kid. If I wanted a snow cone or a few dollars for an outing with friends I would hear that phrase, “well money doesn’t grow on trees.” I get it now! There are an enormous amount of asks each day with a family. Even when that thing is necessary or helpful…it is very draining. Within the first few months of school we had purchased a few outfits and shoes for each of the kids, we bought school supplies, got everyone haircuts, paid for an athletic uniform and a lock for our middle school-er, picked out at least 8 birthday gifts for friends, took food to potlucks, donated to two different school fundraisers, paid for a field-trip, snow cones, as well as made classroom donations…oh and school pictures x3. It is out of control.
That was just a small snip-it off the top of my head of expenses after kids. They have to eat and drink and have clothes washed and dried, they need medicine and shampoo, toothpaste and hair gel. These tiny people are so pricey. I completely know that so much of what they require is necessary and much of what is necessary is expected. We use to have cable t.v. The worst thing about that is the commercials. Around Christmas a few years ago the ‘asks’ that these kids were making was ridiculous. Can I have that race car, and this doll, every kid has this kind of skateboard. It was making me angry every time they turned on the television. Finally, I sat down with them and told them our new rules. They were no longer allowed to ask for things on t.v. I would allow them to say “that is cool,” or “mom look at that,” however tapping me on the shoulder asking for each item advertised was now forbidden in mom-land.
The problem with all of the asking is a sense of entitlement that accompanies it. They deserve this thing…but nope, they don’t. A lot of the time I’ve found that an item was wanted desperately, but once our kids received that said toy it wasn’t loved for long. The batteries would eventually die and the R.C. car was forgotten about. We got this really cool big foot caveman that blinked, talked and could do a front flip. I remember he was very expensive and guess what? The cord that was included to charge him was misplaced and he sits in the closet collecting dust. It is a waste.
You know the parent at the grocery store that is trying to make it through the checkout with a screaming and demanding child. I always feel badly for her because the kid is making such a scene and I can see the mother’s anguish. It is a horrible feeling. With a cart full of groceries that need to be paid for and bagged along with a wild child, anxiety levels spike. My three oldest know better by now. If they ask for anything, they get nothing at the store. Ahhhhhh! It is really so refreshing. They go in with the expectation that they will leave empty handed, that way no one is disappointed. I started telling them exactly what we are going into the store for before we get there, unless we were going for a week’s worth of groceries…that needs no explanation. However, if we are going in for a quick trip: laundry soap, dog food, cereal and a greeting card then I tell them such. Doing this does two things for me…it holds me accountable to not buy makeup and nail polish and things I don’t need, and it also gives me three little people with great memories a chance to help me remember what I came for because my mom-brain is fried.
One of our neighbor kids was selling avocados from his tree a few months back. He advertised 2/$1 and even brought them in a little wagon door to door. Heck yes we bought avocados from him! He picked them, delivered them and was saving up for something he really wanted. It was a few hours later and we got a knock at the door. Standing out front were two more neighbor kids with a wagon full of toys they didn’t want…you know army guys with missing arms and dolls with crazy hair. I had to pass on purchasing these messed up castaways, but oh my gosh, it is hilariously-adorable now that I think about it. I should have paid them just for the laugh.
It’s a great lesson to start talking to your children about what things actually cost, how much work goes in to each thing in your home and how all the extra items add up. We do not give allowances in our house for chores (they get to do those for free), but our kids have plenty of opportunities to earn cash: A’s on report cards, raking leaves, watching the baby so I can shower in peace. Assign ways for kids to earn money so that they may learn the importance of spending and saving.