Postcards from Mommywood: What I've Learned From the Great Recession

We don't need much stuff. Even my daughter knows that!
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Postcards from Mommywood: What I’ve Learned From the Great Recession

We don’t need much stuff. Even my daughter knows that!

-Diane Clehane

Child in store

There’s no question that for most of us, until the Great Recession came along, life had been one of plenty for many years. Long summer vacations and a backyard that looked like a theme park somehow morphed from being luxuries into must-haves, along with a list of “essentials” that includes everything from iPhones to Xbox games.

Not any more. At least not at my house.

The now constant barrage of bad economic news and the wildly unpredictable stock market have curtailed the rampant consumerism I’d unthinkingly fallen into. Before I became a parent, I was a hardcore recreational shopper and indulged in more than my share of retail therapy. During my first few years of motherhood, I bought enough baby clothes to open my own store. When the first waves of the recession hit, I scaled back considerably out of necessity. Now that it’s been a couple of years and my priorities have shifted, I find I miss those shopping expeditions less and less.

Recently, I found myself in a children’s clothing store, killing time before a doctor’s appointment. A few years ago, I’d have bought a few pairs of shorts and at least one cute swimsuit for my daughter, who has about a dozen already. This time, I left empty- handed and found myself hit with the realization that I’ve permanently reset my thinking on recreational spending. It just doesn’t do it for me anymore. It got me thinking about what lessons I can teach my daughter from what I learned from our rough economic times.

She’s a bright, happy five-year-old who’s just as likely to be fascinated with a little trinket we pick up from one of those dollar bins at Target as she is with the hot toy of the moment. She loves books, and every night, she asks my husband and me to read her a few of the well-worn favorites she has had for years. While I clean up after dinner, she often occupies herself making sticker collages out of the reams of address labels that seem to come in the mail on a daily basis.

Read Postcards from Mommywood:We’re Driving Our Kids Crazy

Recently, I took her on a playdate and was amazed when we walked in her friend’s front door. There was virtually no corner of the living room that wasn’t covered with toys. On one wall, floor-to-ceiling bins were brimming with all kinds of dolls, games, and gadgets. Across the room, a giant television was surrounded by stacks of DVDs. The entire first floor of the house resembled a volcanic eruption in the middle of the neighborhood toy store. After surveying the scene for a minute or two, my daughter walked over to the small book case obscured behind two tricycles and pulled out some books. “I’ve never had any child that comes here do that,” said the child’s amazed mother.


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0 thoughts on “Postcards from Mommywood: What I've Learned From the Great Recession

  1. danggirl says:

    Oh wow — so you’ve cut back on your over-indulgent life a little bit. Congratulations!

  2. cremebrulee67 says:

    Uh, when you have $50 bucks left over after you pay your bills to buy groceries for your child and yourself with, you let me know — then we will talk about how the recession has affected you – you poor thing you

  3. DianeClehane says:

    Im not complaining about my situation — quite the contrary, Im grateful for the wake up call. By the way, Id hardly put myself in the Carrie Bradshaw category. Im more of a Target couture gal. Cheers

  4. shamrockblonde says:

    creme – you missed the point of the article – it’s not about money it’s about quality of time spent with your children – I’ve seen a small child turn a crack in the sidewalk into a winding river filled with adventure on both sides of it – children learn what they live – a good imagination can open a whole world for a little one – she wasn’t saying that she missed spending big bucks, she was saying that she – none of us – need to – and I agree – we all come from different economic circumstances, but give a child your time,and you both end up rich beyond measure –

  5. cremebrulee67 says:

    You do not have to tell me that; I raised three boys on my own who are all grown now — we did not have much and they are just fine. As a matter of fact, none of them turned out materialistic and are the better for it. Maybe I took it wrong, if so, I apologize. My stepchildren have a mother who earns 6 figures and they have ever techno-device under the sun and they just throw them around, do not take care of their games, cd’s, dvd’s, etc.; do not have any comprehension of the value of a dollar and what it takes to earn it, etc. It really gets my goat. I have no control over that as they do not live with us full-time, but you can be certain if they did, items would be taken away when not cared for properly. They think if they break it, then it is nothing to just get a new one. See, I didn’t miss the point at all – its just in some places, it sounded like bragging.

  6. shamrockblonde says:

    the children are living what they learn – it is a shame that they are not with you – they would have learned better – it really is all about what you show children – show them disrespect and neglect and that is what they will learn – I think if those kids were with you a bit more they might learn that sometimes spending time making something, reading a book or just having fun with each other is way better than an electronic babysitter – and every Mom has a right to brag – just a bit – *hugs*

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