Back in the day, my Grandma would call Trick or Treating “Shell Out” (she would also call Canadian Tire “The Tire Corporation” for some inexplicable reason.) As we donned our homemade costumes, she would be at the door. “Shell out, shell out,” she’d call. I thought it was strange and embarrassing back then. Little did I know she was warning me what my life would be like in 30 years.
Oh, I lie to myself. “Now that school has started Liz, the expenses will drop off.” “It’s just Christmas. When January comes you’ll be able to save LOTS of money.” Yeah, whatever. The cheques are ripped out and handed off.
Scholastic Book Order
Girl Guide Sleepover
Pottery Field Trip, Museum Field Trip, Skiing Field Trip
RIP RIP RIP
That was a skiing and snowboarding trip, remember?
Right – RIP
School Christmas Gifts
RIP RIP RIP
Winter Activity Registration
School Book Fair
Should I put the 4 and 3 year old in Kindermusik?
I don’t begrudge giving my kids stuff, and all of these expenses are worthwhile. They’re all educational, memorable, and brain building. That’s the problem: How do you say “no” to the good stuff?
I’m not wasting money on kids temporary hair die, or those plastic straws full of sugar. It’s the costs of all the great trips the school organizes, thank you’s to great teachers, birthday party gifts for great kids. This is all the stuff that you want to say “yes” to as a parent. And it’s not just an issue because I have a ton of kids. When I just had two, I had them enrolled in music, dance, swimming, and gymnastics. We went weekly to the bookstore, and bought a shelf load of Sharon, Lois and Bram CD’s. It’s easy to say “no” to the candy aisle, and a lot harder to say it to cello lessons.
But at some point, you have to. Even if you are a stay-at-home mom with two nannies and a gazillion, billion dollars, it is humanly impossible to buy and do everything of value that will cross your kids’ path. You can’t fit that much activity into a 24 hour day, and where are you going to house all those math games? Parents today are both blessed and cursed — blessed that we have so much to help us parent and enrich our children’s lives, and cursed that we have so much to choose from and have to say “no” to.
So, I have a confession to make: I recycled the book orders this month. I did cave on Sweetie Pie’s new Christmas Dress, but she needs it for the school Christmas Concert. The same concert that I bought fundraising raffle tickets for. And we did stop at the book fair, but I limited the kids to one book. A piece. Plus some for the kids at home. And some erasers. But I swear that’s it, and I mean it.
I’m going to go order some more cheques now.