In our country, we get to choose what to purchase. It’s a wonderful thing. Ford or Chevy? Levi’s or Wranglers? Wii or XBox? Whatever the choice may be, we have to make decisions. Advertising often influences which product we choose, as well as, reviews from friends, family, magazines, and the consumer reviews online.
When I look at a review, I tend to skip past all the ‘happy, 5-star” reviews. I want to know what sorts of problems people are experiencing, not how quickly the package arrived. I want to look at what the product does and how it functions. Especially, if it’s for a child then is it safe and age-appropriate? (I don’t want to give a choking hazard to a child who likes to put things in their mouth).
The holiday season and shopping process can be difficult for parents. We have a special set of challenges put to us:
- We want to give our children everything (which is impossible).
- Our children put pressure on us to buy everything (because of the ads on tv, online, friends, etc).
- We don’t want to appear we’re depriving our children of anything because of the perceived pressure from society to ‘provide’ everything for our children.*
*This is the one to talk about. First of all, it’s not society that is telling us to ‘provide’ everything for our children. It’s the retail markets telling us that we need to ‘buy’ everything for our child.
Let’s take for example when an expectant couple walks into a large baby department store. Let’s just look at what they see in the bedding department? Cribs (convertible, standard, or mini), cradles, bassinets, portable cribs, and co-sleepers. There are fairly pricey bedding sets that include bumper pads, comforter, fitted sheet, dust ruffle, some even include, diaper stacker, wearable blanket, window valance, and a security blanket. While the baby’s room might look “beautiful” and “pulled together”, really the only thing out of the whole kit that would be useful would be the fitted sheet. Wearable blankets are very handy to have and the valance might look nice but bumper pads are not recommended and loose blankets in the baby’s sleep space are not recommended until the baby’s first birthday.
The point to all this is to do your research before you buy. I’ve said it before regarding aftermarket car seat products, but this really applies to everything you purchase. Now, realistically we cannot research every purchase, but when our children are involved it is worth it to take a step back and analyze the functionality of the product. What does it do? How does it work? Are there potential serious dangers to my child? How does this benefit my child?
In this economy, there are many parents who cannot afford the lavish holidays of years gone by, and that makes us feel guilty, but wait, think about your happiest moments. Are they spent with things or with people or experiences?
Giving experiences and time to your child really is much more meaningful than the latest toy. Something like a membership to the zoo, aquarium, science center, or movie passes are things that can last longer but also lends to the opportunities of spending time together. These memories are things that will last.
Anyway, even if we could afford everything our child wants, are we putting a priority on ‘things’ over people? What does that teach your child? I’m not saying to go gift-free this holiday season. I’m saying relax, breathe, think about what you’re buying and maybe think about buying more memories instead of stuff, although a camera for your child to take their own photos of these memorable events might be a good idea.