Day 12: Boredom

Day 12: Boredom

Nothin’ doin’. Got up and just wanted to sleep again. Of course, when you’re a mom of two under three, that is not an option.

Boredom. Mommies get bored. It’s not all sunshine and baked apple pie. Sometimes we miss adult interaction and conversation. Sometimes we just can’t handle another trip to the park.

I suppose that’s how I ended up shopping a little too much with my kids in tow. I see a lot of other families doing it- going shopping for entertainment. I gotta say, I used to judge other moms for doing it when I wasn’t one myself. I thought ‘ now there’s a recipe for creating a consumerism minded and/or a spoiled kid’.

Now I get it. You sometimes need to do something not kid related…but with kids. Ergo, shopping. It ties in with needs- often you are going because you need to get necessary supplies. But then there’s the extras, often available in the very store you’re in (so many ‘everything’ stores now a days) or just a few doors down. You can kill a lot of time wandering the aisles of a Marshall’s or TJ Maxx or better yet, a thrift store. You can get some great deals too.

But (there’s a big but) you are also modeling for your kid how to use their time. I personally, don’t think it’s a great use of time: It’s not outdoors, it’s not active, it involves the spending of money on extras, it’s not imaginative, it exposes them to a plethora of branding and it demonstrates a kind of “void filling” through consumerism. Not high on my list of “things to teach my child”.

Today was overcast and uninspiring. On any other day I would perhaps pile the the kids in the car and go to a thrift store or a Marshall’s to “look for deals” or neat “knick knacks”. Basically to give us some sort of indoor activity outside of the house. Inevitably I would end up spending on a few things that would catch my eye. Not a lot, but it would add up and also add to the clutter in the house.

Instead, we stayed in today. I let the potential for boredom settle in. I don’t have to be afraid of boredom nor my kids either( I read an article about boredom…there are a lot out there…and essentially, boredom spurs on the imagination and creativity). In fact, accepting that here was where we were going to stay and embracing that let a space open up in me. I plugged away at my uke working on some strumming patterns and the girls mostly entertained themselves. I actually had some time to think.

Not bad for a lazy, boring day.

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Day 11: Enter Temptation

Day 11: Enter Temptation

So, I had a mission to complete that I’ve been putting off because I wasn’t sure what the parameters should be. I’d purchased two sports bras on-line before the challenge. One fit, the other didn’t. It was a much-needed infusion of brassieres, since, as a nursing mommy, my old ones have taken quite a bit of abuse. Now, ordinarily, the old me would discover that something I’d ordered on-line was not quite right, but I wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of returning it. Wasteful. This challenge has me thinking about the quality and value of things, and if something isn’t perfect and what I’d use, then I need to return it. Well, this item could be returned directly to the store even if purchased on-line because REI has an awesome return policy. Yay. The trick was that I’d have to go into a brick and mortar store.

The question here also was, could I trade in for one that fit better? Could I trade up if it cost more? I decided that if I managed to find something just right for the same price or less, then I could do it. But, if it cost even a bit more, then no way.

So, here, folks was a test of my resolve.

To be honest, I don’t often purchase anything from REI because I don’t buy into the outdoor gear thing , especially not the lifestyle stuff. If I need something for camping (or in the past, rock climbing) then yes, on occasion…if I can’t find it cheaper elsewhere.

We got there and immediately I felt that ‘kid in a candy store’ sensation. You know, like when you had a few spare quaters in your pocket as a kid and you could buy a few jaw-breakers from that shelf full of colourful, all sugar, treats.

I wandered the aisles, touching the great Patagonia gear, trying to feel if I had any overwhelming desires for any of it. In passing I would think, that would look really nice on; or that would be great to run in; but for the most part, very easy to pass up. The selection of bras was slim and priced much higher than the item I had purchased on sale. No go there.

Here’s where it got tricky. I saw some sun hats that were reasonably priced and cute. I am forever living in hope that my girls will keep their hats on. Summer is going to be upon us and that California sun can be intense. The battle to get the girls to stay protected from the sun with inconspicuous, light, comfy hats begins. I could, I calculated, buy both girls a hat with the money from the returned bra.

But then my toddler began asking for me to pull down all the hats to try. And then she wanted to try on shoes.

Suddenly, I snapped out of it.

How would these hats be any different from the handful of hats I had for the girls at home? Here was my little girl already becoming a shopper before my eyes.

I put my efforts to cajoling my toddler into getting on board with me and our mission. A simple ‘in, return, out’.

And so that’s what we did.

Phew. That was close.

Day 10:Spasms

Day 10:Spasms

The mind is amazing. It really can play tricks.

I was thinking about what I would write on the blog today and thinking how boring it would become because I don’t really have a problem with spending. Clearly, it’s been 10 days and it hasn’t been very hard. I’ve had no major urge to purchase anything. Maybe I should just let it go, because, who really cares? No one is actually reading my posts.

I was almost convinced.

And then I caught myself thinking with excitement about buying more books for my kids…as I was reading books we’d just taken out from the library. I was enjoying reading to them while we laid there in the shade on a blanket. The high from experiencing such a lovely moment made me…want to buy the potential for more of it?!?!

Instead, we stayed put. Read all the books we had borrowed. Snacked and played. I met and chatted with a few fellow mommies, and then we walked home.

I may not be a big spender, but I am definitely not free of the need to be a consumer. Until my days are empty of thoughts of things I could purchase, this challenge continues.

Day 9

Day 9

It’s hard to do groceries when you’re hungry. I was really hungry today. My stomach is still not back to normal after a bout with food poisoning, but I’m also a nursing mom so I had the ol’ hunger pangs as I walked down the aisles of the grocery store this morning.

While my resolve to buy only foods I would use to make things and not the pre-made stuff i.e. apples if I wanted apple sauce, popping corn if I want the bagged stuff etc, wavered a little bit, I still managed to only get the necessities and stick to my weekly budget.

I did realize, however, that shopping without a list is foolhardy. One, because I end up wandering the aisles (and who has time to wander when you’ve got a two-year old in your cart demanding “samples, samples” and a 9 month old strapped to your body with an ergo). Two, because I end up forgetting something  and three, I don’t know if I am buying enough to last not just the work week but the weekend. I’ve got to work on that.

I did meet a fellow mom in the aisles whom I know in passing, and as we chatted, I noticed her great harem pants. Briefly I thought of my online search several weeks ago for a good pair of said pants, but unable to find any, I temporarily gave up. I will now have to give up on it entirely, at least for 356 more days I will. They are certainly not a necessity; the urge to get them is not based in need but desire. I thought they’d look cool on me. So, perhaps vanity comes into play. Maybe I’d temporarily feel really good about myself until my hubby came home and said ” what is that you’re wearing?” and then the thrill would be gone.

So, other than that, no other thoughts of needless consumerism crossed my mind. I’m still resolved.

Day 8

Oh, the irony of having titled my last post “purging” in reference to getting rid of stuff around the house. What also happened last night was that my two year old and I had a bout of food poisoning and ended up doing the other kind of purging, all night long.

With the resilience that only a toddler can have, she woke  up fresh and fearless and ready to take on a new day (and food) having vomited no less than 6 times over the course of the evening. I, on the other hand, possessing not the same kind of miracle recovery skills, spent the day miserable and doubled over. Perhaps I ate a lot more of what ever it was. I don’t know.

Needless to say there was absolutely no chance to think about buying anything…unless you count the saltines and ginger ale. A necessity in my book. Let’s hope tomorrow is a better one.

Day 7: Purging

Day 7: Purging

When you can’t buy…then sell!

I’ve been talking about having a garage sale for quite some time. My hubs was not too into it, but I decided to force the issue this weekend and he grudgingly went along.

My toddler thought it was the greatest thing in the world: we were running  a real live store and she was the most enthusiastic greeter. Though, I almost needed to shush her when she greeted a woman with “Hello little lady…HELLO LITTLE LADY!!!”Not sure where she got that from…luckily she’s so cute she can be forgiven. And watching her give away some of her toys to other kids was gratifying to say the least. I do want to raise my kids to be not so attached to things and have a generous spirit.

For me, someone who has always enjoyed playing store ever since I was a wee tot, this was really fun. It felt incredible to be emptying our garage of accumulated junk (the main reason the hubs got on board) and I got a boost from the fact that I was making some money. Yes, for this stay at home mom, finally getting some hard cash felt GOOD. And in line with allowing the unneeded items to move on rather than molder in our garage, we sold everything rather cheaply, gave in to any request for a lower price and threw in a lot of freebies. It’s also about sharing that loving feeling – some folks got some great deals they can feel good about.

Got some more great advice from family via this link . I really appreciate all the support and ideas flowing my way, so keep them coming!!

Had a fleeting urge to immediately spend the cash on a dinner out, but quickly realized that putting it into a discretionary fund would feel infinitely better.

One week down, infinitely more to go.

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Day 6: Keep It Simple

Day 6: Keep It Simple

Okay. It’s day 6 and I am just starting to catch the faintest whiff of panic in the back of my mind.

It’s Friday, and so far we’ve kept it simple. The best way I’ve found in the past to avoid spending is to stay busy and keep my distance. So, it was to the park we went. I sense a lot of parks in our future. AND we brought our new sand toys.20160411_112205.jpg This was a purchase made, spur of the moment, only last week. It seemed necessary at the time, and “it was only $10”. So it needs to be USED. I got out the sharpie, wrote our initials on all the pieces, and we laid it out there for all the kids to use. God knows we’ve relied on the amazing mommies who frequent the parks for their sand toys many a time, so it was our turn to provide. My kiddo played with other kids’ toys still…begging the question, was this really a “necessary” item? Time will tell. At least they were enjoyed by all (and I know this because we are already missing one item from the bucket- se la vie!)20160415_115633.jpg

It’s Friday. I mentioned that already. But there is something about Friday that starts me getting excited. Maybe the knowledge that my hubby will be home for two whole days to help out with the kids is what that is. But there is also this ingrained emotion around Friday…and its that emotion that makes me want to celebrate…with food. Food that we get at a restaurant. Somehow, I feel like I made it all the way through the week, now I deserve a break. But this kind of “treat” while sounding very reasonable, can get out of hand. Because, truth be told, on Saturday I realize that I really didn’t plan my grocery shopping very well and don’t have anything to cook, so let’s eat out. And then on Sunday I am jonesing for a really hearty breakfast that only one of the many diners in town can provide ( breakfast is my favourite meal, by far). “Treats” as we call it are not like the ones I had as a kid. When I was growing up we ate out extremely rarely. When we did, it was an event, it was notable, it was exciting. My generation now takes eating-out for granted. And it shows in the ding to our wallets.

Now, the thing that has me silently panicking is: am I no longer allowed a break now and then? Can I not eat out for an entire year? I need to run this by the hubs for sure. Because, it’s been a feast up until now, but if I go straight to famine mode, I think this whole challenge might fall down around me in ruins.

So, I also ask you, my community. Can eating out on the rare occasion be a necessity? Should I cut it out completely, or should I have, say, a budget for occasional outings to a restaurant?