Are our kids spoilt?

I have to admit that as I write this blog post I am still thinking about the title .    I know that many kids in todays society are spoilt,  but the question I ask – are my children spoilt?

Last weekend, the Weekend Sunrise team interviewed Hattie Garlick.   Hattie is a mum in the U.K. who has started writing a blog called www.freeourkids.co.uk.  The purpose for this blog is to document her son’s progress over the next twelve months.     This blog has gone globally crazy, not because she is another parent blogging about her two year son, but because she has declared that she and her husband are going to parent their son without spending a cent on him – other than food and medicines  (they will spend money where absolutely necessary – and if the project was harming the boy, they will instantly terminate the experiment).

copy-freeourkids23

I started this blog post at the start of the week, but due to school supplies needing to be bought, sorted, wrapped and named, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to finish.  That is – until now.  Seems a little ironic writing a blog post about kiddie consumerism after my week of  buying school supplies, can I argue that school supplies aren’t considered a ‘want’, but a ‘need’?  Afterall, the school requires the kids to have supplies.    If I had shopped at Smiggles, then I would disagree –  Smiggles items are over priced for what the items are!  Cute – but overpriced.

Getting back to Hattie’s blog post. Hattie is declaring war on ‘kiddie consumerism’.  Are we spending too many dollars on our children?   We live in a world where everything is in surplus.   What if there was a way we could stop spending so many dollars on our children?  What if us parents actually exercised that ‘No’ muscle more often?

Hattie’s argues that there is no need to spend money on clothing, because there are families out in our communities who are happy to freely give used items away, and a two year old would not know the difference at this time as to what he is wearing.   Does a two year old little boy care if he wears a t-shirt from a family who donates clothing on freecycle.org or a brand new pumpkin patch t-shirt?   Freecycle.org is a fantastic site.  We have donated many an item to the site, and we have also received many items along the way as well.     I have always loved op shopping, so I have always picked up good quality clothes for very little money.  Facebook have pages where you can advertise give away items.   I am connected to one that operates here on the Sunshine Coast.  I am sure that readers could start their own type of free cycle site on Facebook, if there isn’t one for your area already.

Hattie has set up some rules.   They are all very practical and realistic.  I have copied her rules here from her blog exactly as she has written them.  I found her statistics interesting and challenging.  I know for me – I like the rules. I also have a two year old in the house and it is so easy to get fooled by the advertising for the product.  What do you think of the rules?

THE RULES….

1)   FOOD

No buying of kid specific food. No snack bars, apple rice cakes, smoothies, tiny plastic cheeses. These have to be the biggest con of all and I’m done with them.

Did you know that infant ready meals were so rare in 2006 that they didn’t exist as an industry category? Five years later, they’re worth £25.8 million and growing by nearly 25% every year.

Not in this family. Not anymore. From here on it’s weekly menu planning. Three meals a day that suit all three of our tastes and nutritional needs. Snacks that Tom and I will eat too.  If the kid doesn’t like something, I’ll tuppaware it up and eat it later myself. Less waste, less angst.

2)   CLOTHES

We will spend £0 on the kid’s threads in 2013.

Kids grow criminally fast. They should stop, really they should. But in the meantime, it just compounds the crime not to use second hand clothes. And third hand. And fourth hand – particularly if there is nothing wrong with them.

This boy is two years old. He doesn’t need to be on trend. He needs to be warm and dry so that he can explore the world.

We’ll have hand me downs and freecycle. Have you seen the things people throw away? There’s no need for your kid to look like this (except for reasons of personal mirth):

3) TOYS

£0. For pretty much the same reasons as with clothes.

Last year the Evening Standard estimated that there were 474 million unused toys gathering dust in British homes and a study by Ribena found that one-in-six parents bought their kids the latest gadgets because they wanted to “look good in front of other families”.

The Telegraph interviewed Mrs Goddard Blythe (the director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology) who said that British parents had been duped into ”thinking that the more they provide for their children in terms of material, electrical goods and, in turn, the more money they spend, the better parents they are”.

WE’RE THE GROWN-UPS, GUYS. Wake up.

4)   ACTIVITIES

I’ve been to enough ‘Mini Music’, ‘Monkey Madness’, ‘Mummy’s making a Muppet of Herself with a Maraca’ classes to know how it works.

We’ll make our own classes, at home, with friends. We’ll paint, do ‘sensory’ stuff (ropey box full of pasta shells and string, yeah?) go out for walks to collect mud and stones and sticks and bring them back to smear into the floors.

It’ll be harder work for me. But just as fun for him. And the coffee will be better.

5) NAPPIES

Oh god. Here we go…  Apparently, the average, sane, poo-rinsing-averse British family spends £922.74 on disposable nappies in the first 2.5 years of their child’s life. So yeah, I’m going to swap Pampers for reuseables. Even if the washing kills me (I think there’s a real chance of this).

6) HAIR

Laugh all you want, Daddyo. The DIY haircut is making a comeback. But this time I might get a professional to teach me (and write a ‘how to’ post for readers too).

7) CHILDCARE

This is the one expense I can’t cut out. Johnny has childcare three days a week. And since a girl’s got to work (this one does, at any rate), and his grandmas are busy ladies, the childcare has got to stay.

8) MEDICINES ETC

I’m not an idiot. Calpol, bonjella, and any other form of medicine doesn’t count.

9) SHOES

What do I do about shoes? Aren’t they the one thing you’re really supposed to spend money on? Anyone got any smart ideas?

Our family is a one income family.  So we do what we have to do too make the finances stretch.   We op shop, garage sale, ebay, gumtree and check out the best deals via lasso.com.au.     We do what we have to do – four kids, school, a mortgage and normal every day bills – it can  be full on for a one income family.  I will say that I do feel challenged reading Hattie’s blog.   I know there are areas where I could tighten up the purse strings and use the NO muscles when the kids are asking for this that and the other while out shopping –  99% of the time I am great at saying no…but if I am tired and I have left shopping to the last minute and I have either one child or all four children – to keep the peace sometimes I say yes – when the correct answer is absolutely no!   This is why shopping on line works for me!  I get to do the shopping and have no one pester me for anything!

What are your thoughts about  Hattie’s experiment – or should I say new way of life.  Do you think you would be able to this with your kids?

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