by Jill Cooper
I often hear ladies complaining that they want to stay at home with their kids but that they “have to work since it is so expensive to raise kids these days”. One of the main questions I get asked about frugal living is “won’t I be depriving my children if I live the frugal life?”
Maybe I can answer that question with a few questions. How am I depriving my children by having them drink water for every meal instead of juice and soda? Isn’t the one thing doctors are always complaining about is we don’t drink enough water? Cutting out just one glass of soda per person per day for a family of four would save $547.50 a year and make them healthier.
How am I depriving my children by having them eat an apple or homemade granola bar for a snack instead of a bag of chips? Obesity is a major problem among children in the United States. If you cut out just one bag of chips a week you would save $104.00 a year and make them healthier.
How am I depriving my children by having them walk to school or to a friend’s house instead of my always driving them there? Lack of exercise is a big problem. You would save time and wear and tear on your car by having them walk and make them healthier at the same time.
How am I depriving my children when I don’t buy them every toy they see and want? We wouldn’t dream of giving a baby on baby food all the chocolate that he wants because we know it would make him sick. His body can not tolerate that much chocolate even if he desires it. In the same way, an older child can’t emotionally deal with the overload of toys. I as an adult become stressed just from trying to buy a bottle of shampoo. Have you ever noticed how many options you have? Trying to make a decision can be overwhelming. Do I get it for thin, fine, dry and damaged or colored and permed hair? The list goes on and on. In the same way when a young child looks at mounds of toys, he can become very stressed over choosing which one to play with. If you watch, you will notice that they tend to play with the same couple of toys over and over. If you didn’t give them all the toys they asked for and bought one less brand new toy at $10 a week, you would save $520.00 in one year and you would help relieve them of some stress.
It is no wonder our children stay confused. We insist that they should eat healthy yet we take them out to eat 3-5 times a week at McDonalds. We give them a bag of carrot sticks in their lunch because it’s healthy and then give them a bag of chips when they get home from school to get them off our backs. We want them to have strong character yet the moment they whine or cry for another toy or some candy at the store we give in out of guilt.
We are afraid that if we don’t give them what they want, they won’t love us so to rid ourselves of uncomfortable feelings we say yes. How can we teach them to be strong in character when we are so weak? How could our society and way of thinking have gotten so mixed up that we think a child is deprived if a mom chooses to stay home and not go to work?
We have come to believe that moms should work outside the home so that children can have the most expensive clothes, education or material things. (Note I didn’t say best but rather most expensive since the most expensive doesn’t mean the best.) If a mom goes to work so a child can have all those things it’s not considered depriving the child of anything but its mom. Which do you think does a child more harm – being deprived expensive things or its mom?
For you stay at home moms: Before you become too puffed up with pride be aware that too many social, church and school activities can deprive your children of you just as much as working. Do all things in moderation.