I'm a Military Blogger


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Raising a Child Outside Consumerism

This is something I've been trying to figure out how to write for a while, because it's one of those topics where, if done wrong, it's going to either piss off 90% of my followers or else make me just look like a soapbox crazy hippie.

Basically, over the past few years I've been trying to take a step back and really evaluate my life and how I live it, and what I'm getting from it. I've noticed a few common themes cropping up, especially pertaining to the environment, economics, and consumerism.

I have always been a pretty big consumer. I'm ashamed now to admit that our house actually looks somewhat like an IKEA catalog. The day my husband spilled olive oil on the couch, I didn't talk to him for almost 2 days because all I saw was a ruined $1,000 couch (FTR, it washed out. Couch saved! Yay?) I bought a coach bag, anthropologie clothes, gap pants and shopped at Sephora for overpriced make-up and perfume.

When I got pregnant I spent the first 4 months of my pregnancy in an absolute panic over the thought that I would never be rich enough to afford all the things for my child that my parents were able to afford and give to me. I grew up privledged. Not stinking rich, but I definitely had all of my needs plus a majority of my wants met. Now, my husband and I are definitely not as privledged. So, bringing a child into what I perceived as "the poorest time of my life" was terrifying to me. How would we afford everything we NEEDED?!?!

I went to the baby store and they were kind enough to give me a list of the essentials. Crib. Diapers. Swing. Bouncey Seat. Bottles. Breast Pump. 10-12 each of newborn onesies, body suits, hats, socks, rompers?? What the hell is a romper???? (seriously, what is a romper?). Jumperoo. Exersaucer. Bumbo. High Chair. Bibs, spoons, forks. Baby powder, soap, lotion, cream. Baby day cream, night cream, diaper cream, butt cream, elbow cream, face cream, scented cream, unscented cream. Blankets. Swaddlers. flannel swaddlers, muslin swaddlers, sleep sacks. The Sleep Sheep. The Twilight Turtle. Some sort of singing, talking heartbeat bear?

WE NEED IT ALL????!?!?!

No. We don't. In the past 6 months since my daughter was born I've become quite serious about rejecting consumerism. There is just something about it that leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. When I see kids in the store crying because they want the Tinkerbell fairy princess tea set I become irritated. Not at the kids (who are just expressing what they've been conditioned by TV and ads to express) but at corporations. These multi-billion dollar enterprises that make their jolly's by putting people into debt over cheap plastic shit assembled overseas by underpaid slave laborers. IT'S FUCKING SICK!

I remember being a kid and desperately wanting a Baby Tumbles Surprise. My parents, being smarter than I, saw that doll for what it was (a stupid piece of trash) and refused to buy it for me. Then my friend Jessica got a Baby Tumbles Surprise and I went over to her house to play with it and realized that, oh, it's actually not that fun anyways. Baby Tumbles. SURPRISE! There's only so much of that a kid can take. I wonder how many Baby Tumbles Surprise's are sitting in landfills now, not decomposing.

So I've realized the values I want to instill in my child:

1. Imaginative Play and creativity
2. Real Life Skills
3. Appreciation for hard work and craft
4. The honest value of goods and services
5. Respect for the environment

And I don't want to do it in a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of way. I want her to grow up living these values, just as a default. It has forced me to really re-evaluate how I do things, and how we live as a household.

I do not use commercial cleaners anymore. Our dishwasher hums away at night to the tune of my homemade detergent. My cloth diapers tumble in the washing machine along with my little satchel of soap nuts. I still get the shopping itch, especially around Christmas, so I hit up craft fair's and etsy (well, ok, and a lot of purchase-free mall walking these days). My daughter is the proud owner of 2 lovely playsilks hand dyed and rolled by another mommy crafter. She sits in the hand-me-down bouncey seat and smashes a plastic water bottle between her hands. She has no clue that it's not a "real" toy, or that the legos she throws around are actually just cut-up egg cartons. One day, when she's old enough, I will introduce her to all of the crafts that my mommy did with me, and I will teach her how to sew her own dolls and pillows like my mommy taught me. Watching a video will be a special treat.

Every Thursday we go to the farm stand and I pick up my organic community farm box and hopefully before we move I will be able to take her into the actual farm and we will go on a tour and see where our food is grown and maybe even pick a pumpkin from the field. She will see the price difference between that food and what is at the store and I will tell her that the reason it costs more is because that farmer is receiving a living wage, his workers are receiving a living wage.

And if she asks me why we do things differently in our house, why we do not have cable TV or branded toys (Disney, Dora, La La Loopsy, etc), why her diapers are made of cloth, and our shampoo is in the form of a bar, I will tell her it's because everything we do has an affect on the planet. We can't always see the affect, but it's there, and we should always try to do what is right by the planet. Idealist? Maybe. But she's a child. She's supposed to be an idealist. Then I'll tell her to run along and play and hopefully, if I've done my job right, she'll grab one of her handmade silk scarves and throw it over her shoulders like a cape and run outside to become queen of her very own world. You don't need batteries to run a pretend country.


Emily Walsh said...


I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?

I look forward to hearing from you,


Anonymous said...

My daughter and son are both expecting their children in a few weeks. just happened to find this blog and really appreciated what you have to say. Our daughter is having her 3rd and our son his first. I hope they will remember how much fun they had as children without having all the latest items. You are a great mom and I am sure your daughter will grow up to be very special and may even help solve the globel warming problem!!!