I don’t ever feel like I am that mom. You know the one; the over-indulgent parent whose kid has the best of everything, like the most coordinated outfits and 5-star lunches in their lunch kit every day. But there have been times when I have been over-the-top too, trying to make the best experience for my kids or trying to live up to some kind of Pinterest fantasy. While I am usually fairly logical, reasonable, and at times frugal, I have had my moments of lunacy and completely splurged on something for my kids that I realized later, just wasn’t worth it.
It started with the Nursery. I hunted for months for the absolutely perfect gender-neutral bedding that went with my non-traditional idea of a dark-painted nursery (it was the late 90s!). Then it became about the crib—not too feminine, and the right shade of wood—cherry to be exact. I can remember every detail of preparing that nursery and sitting on the floor with my pregnant belly painting the change table and accessories to match. While I have a few pictures of it prior to the baby arriving, it only took a few months for it all to fall apart. The bedding got puked on and the bumper pads were taken off as soon as I read that they were a safety concern. That beautiful cherry wood crib; it was perfect…for a teething baby, and soon had bite marks all over it.
Elaborate (and expensive) birthday parties. The next phase was the birthday party circuit. A few years in, and we had been to every birthday party location in town, from bowling to bouncy castles and everything in between. I had the crazy idea of getting a limo for a birthday party, and another time, taking 15 kids to the waterslides. I spent a ton of money on those parties and the majority of those times watching out for kids that were in my care, scared to death that I was going to lose or drown one. It took a few years to figure out that my kids were just as happy with backyard birthday parties. One year we made a scavenger hunt on post-it notes at the last minute and it was a huge hit that my kids still talk about.
The entire set of the latest trendy game. When kids get to school age, they learn about the latest toys and trends that may have never been exposed to before. Silly bands, American Girls, Calico Critters were all different toy trends that we went through. We spent countless hours scouring stores for the latest toy of the moment, only to abandon it all just a few short weeks later.
Expensive souvenirs (like concert T-shirts). Somehow when you are on vacation, souvenirs are like kid-magnets; they act as if the entire vacation will be ruined if they don’t get that keepsake. And being caught up in the moment many times myself, I shelled out plenty of dollars for ridiculous things like little statues or hats with the name of the location. While it seemed cool when we were there, usually once we arrived home those souvenirs didn’t seem so special anymore. Just like some of those concert t-shirts purchased—it cost me $60 for my kid to wear a t-shirt to bed with Justin Bieber’s face on it.
Birthday party gifts for kid’s friends. Early on in the birthday party game, parents put a lot of thought and effort into buying the right gift for our kid’s friends. I too spent a lot of time making sure it was something the child wanted, was appropriate and within the right budget. Meaning I didn’t want to seem cheap or careless about gift giving. Being someone that loves to buy and give gifts, at the time it didn’t feel like a splurge. Until years later and countless gifts given, I now appreciate those mothers who sent a crumpled $20 bill in a homemade card. No one remembers anyway!
As parents invested in our kids, we want to create the best possible memories for them, and sometimes we overcompensate by giving them more of things that we didn’t have ourselves. However reflecting on many of these things from times past, I can safely say that the thing they remember most was the experiences themselves—and not the money spent.