Articles like this always speak to me. I have two sons that are still in the “toy” stage. One is 8 and one is a year old. The differences in my experiences with them as babies are amazing, and most of it because of my outlook on spending for each child.
For the 8 year old, I was an $800 stroller Mom. He had to have the best of everything. You heard of a new toy that taught infants how to play the violin in one day…I had it. Thomas Trains? He had every one by the time he was 3, including a HUGE handmade train table (which he couldn’t reach) and miles, and miles of tracks. I bought the most expensive diapers (they had to be the best, right?), the most expensive food, and the most expensive clothes. His father and I didn’t have money for new clothes for ourselves, but our child had to have the best.
For the 1 year old, my ideas completely changed. I won’t lie to you and tell you it was all because of becoming an “aware” mom. My financial situation changed dramatically. I was on bed rest for 6 months with the youngest, and our income was cut by a half. Those expensive diapers weren’t in our budget. Instead, I made my own cloth diapers, and my own infant toys as well as most of his clothes. (I had to do something while I was in bed).
At first I felt guilty. The oldest had everything perfect, and I couldn’t do the same for the youngest. Would it psychologically harm him for life? Would he always feel “second best”? I worried, and I worried. I cried for countless hours.
Then the youngest showed up. He loves the handmade toys. He had no idea that other babies don’t wear rubber pants over their diapers. Who cared about the best clothing? He prefers to be in a diaper and nothing else.
Then a really awesome thing happened. My 8 year old started asking for sock monkeys and felt stuffies instead of the newest and best toy. Mom’s clothes are pretty cool, too. They fit him better, and he can pick out the fabric. Our favorite toys right now (for both of them) is a bunch of old pots and pans from the Goodwill, and a bunch of felt food that they serve to their sock monkeys and stuffies.
They are both incredibly smart, but I am enjoying the toddlerhood of the youngest much more than I did the eldest. I don’t have to worry about my child having the best daycare – I am the best daycare. I don’t have to worry about what he’s learning – I’m the one teaching him. Plus, I’m enjoying myself and doing something that I’ve always wanted to do…Have time for my kids and my crafts. I realize now what my mom always told me is true: You can’t buy your children’s love and they really would rather have time with you, than the most expensive toy (at least until they are teenagers, but that’s another post).