Trading “American Girl” for American Farm

I’m one of those mothers who unfortunately has the fault of chronically comparing herself to other mothers. And in our quest to get out of debt and to live a simpler life, I find myself questioning my decisions involving my children even more.

We cut the cable cord over a year ago–we do have a few channels still, due to a digital tuner–but avoiding the bombardment of incessant commercials telling me what we supposedly need and apparently lack is totally worth it. I don’t have children who ask for the latest and greatest toys, gadgets, processed foods, or whatever else is being sold and packaged in bright, neon colors and advertised with flashy commercials and ever-present advertising.

However, I am on Facebook. I do utilize social media. So, it’s easy to see the green grass on the other side. At Christmas, I see children with smartphones, and American Girl dolls, and tablets, and piles of clothing, and expensive shoes, and shiny presents with gigantic bows that fill entire rooms. I know that my Kindergarten-aged son’s friends have video game consoles, the latest toys, their own electronic gadgets. I know this, and it worries me. For now, my son seems oblivious, but sooner or later, he will start asking why we don’t buy presents on the level of So-and-So’s family, or why he can’t have a smartphone when he’s eight years old. I feel it is inevitable. Someday, his little sister will want Barbies, and even more expensive dolls, and more toys, and what her friends have.

And, sometimes, I question my decisions–is it wrong to deny them a grandiose Christmas? Should I make presents more of a priority? Don’t I care whether or not they will be made fun of in school? Is our goal of a self-reliant life going to set them up for bullying later on?

Today, our family attended a Maple Tree Tapping class at a local farm. And as I watched my children marvel at baby goats, as they chased chickens while trying to feed them organically grown soybeans harvested from the farm, as my son learned that maple syrup doesn’t come from a cute glass jar at the grocery store…during those moments, and on this rare occasion, I feel like I’m doing something right…..

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2 thoughts on “Trading “American Girl” for American Farm

  1. The things you are giving your children are way more important and long lasting than a smart phone or digital gadget. Having raised two now adult girls (in their 20’s) when money was really tight and now my little 6 year old, when money is ok, I don’t do anything different. The older two appreciate the things they have but are not materialistic and the little one does not watch commercial television (thank god for Cbeebies). I know this will not last much longer but I will take the tack with commercials that they just want your money not give you what you need.

    Seeing my little girl playing in the mud at the allotment, taking apart flowers to see how they are all put together, building a worm, slug and snail house just because she can means way more than any app on a smart phone.

  2. I get a chuckle when my city friends complain about the 30 minute drive out to my place, and then their kids go crazy over our fields, trees and chickens and don’t want to leave. I get the comment, “It’s so REAL here!” a lot.

    One 6 year old son of a friend of mine, after being taken home over vehement protests, informed his mother that night at bedtime, “Tomorrow, we’re going to get up and eat breakfast, and then we’re going right back to Rosebud’s house. I want to get more frogs.”

    He was rather put out when she refused to cooperate with his agenda.

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