Mom Swears To Avoid Kiddy Consumerism And Spend Zero On Son
A UK mum watched her son play with a water gun on a beach holiday over Christmas and made a realization -- and a vow. She would take a stand against "kiddy consumerism" and not spend money on her son in 2013 (except for on medicine).
His clothes will be hand-me-downs, his diapers with be reusable, he will eat the same food as the rest of the family and his activities will be play-based with friends. Hattie Garlick is nervous, but she is even going to cut his hair herself.
Garlick has posted her blog and her rules on January 6, 2013 and since then, she has been hearing from other parents all over the world who are pledging to do the same, or who are at least cutting back on their kiddy spending.
In an article for the British paper The Telegraph, Garlick writes:
Was I the only one suffering from kiddy overspend? I thought back to our antenatal classes: a group of excited and nervous first-time parents, all dutifully pursuing the “must have” £500 buggy. Not representative, I realised. So I thought about the queues in Baby Gap, the supermarket aisles devoted to snacks for babies and toddlers, the parenting magazines rammed full of adverts for the latest infant accessories and trinkets.
Not all of the comments have been positive. One reader suggests that Garlick should be cutting back on her own expenses, instead of making her son suffer. Mommyish.com suggests that there is something a little bit condescending in the Garlick's pledge:
I just find her “challenge” a little insulting to those that have to live that way. Don’t you think parents who can’t afford to buy their kids new clothes would love to be able to? And buying organic – if you can afford it, why wouldn’t you? I would love to be able to afford to give my child an entire diet devoid of pesticides and hormones. And when I can, I will.
Obviously there is a middle ground behind Garlick's asceticism and Beyonce's $50,000 first year birthday party for Blue Ivy (complete with diamond-encrusted Barbie). I applaud Garlick's intentions, but can she really go a whole year without spending anything? What if she runs out of art paper and markers for instance? It is often the little things that I spend money on.
The bare-bones costs for raising a child in Canada keeps increasing. Canadian Living recently estimated that one child costs $12,825 per year, totalling $243,660 until the age of 18. I'm sure that number doesn't factor in child-sized snack containers, and the latest style of sunglasses as well.
Each year it seems that the baby and kid aisles swell even larger with specialized toys, food and extras that make extravagant promises of making your life easier and your kid smarter and healthier.
One of the interesting lessons in Garlick's blog is her investigations into these products aimed at kids (and also her adorable Britishisms). She is slowly debunking many of the marketing promises of kids' products.
And it hasn't always been this way. When Garlick told her elderly neighbour about her no-spend plan, the woman's response was: "I don’t get it,” she said. “Isn’t that what mothers have always done?"
Do you spend too much on your kids? Would you try to give up all spending or is it going too far?