What Triggers Me to Shop and What I Do Instead
Shopping Out of Boredom
Sometimes, I get tempted to shop out of sheer boredom. Don't get me wrong, being a mom is everything I ever dreamed, and more! There are so many fun times with my children, and I love seeing them learn new things and hit all their developmental milestones, etc. But, honestly? Sometimes the monotony of daily life with kiddos gets a little... well...monotonous! That's when I often get tempted to shop. Buying something ignites a sense of delight in me, because there's a thrill that comes with getting something new and exciting... But what I've learned is, the thrill only lasts a couple of days, once you get the item home... sometimes, it even only lasts a couple of hours. Then, it's over, and you've emptied your bank account that much more. So, is shopping really worth it, just because you're bored? I've come to realize that it's not.
Shopping Out of Loneliness
Believe it or not, I've come to realize that a lot of times, I used to shop out of loneliness. Yes, I had my kids with me, but they're young and talking to them (as much as I love them) is not the same as talking to an adult or going out with girlfriends. When everyone else was busy, and my husband was at work, it often became my tradition to go shopping at my favorite department store. It was not that I needed anything, or that the kids really needed anything, it was just that getting out into the community and interacting with other people was something I wanted more of, and I also thought if I only spent a few dollars here and there (even though I was charging it) that it wouldn't matter. However, that added up quickly, and as I left the store or even while I was there, I found myself not really getting what I needed out of the experience. Yes, I interacted with a couple fellow shoppers and the cashier, but inside I still felt lonely (plus I had more debt to pay off).
Shopping as an Escape
Shopping sometimes became a reason to get out of the house, and away from whatever was overwhelming me. If the chores were piling up and the kids were being crazy and I couldn't seem to get it all done, I would pile them in the car and go shopping. Rather than face the issues at hand (messy house, and kids getting restless), I chose to escape into my department store world. Don't get me wrong, I didn't wrack up thousands of dollars or anything. But, I was still using shopping as an escape, instead of facing the mess at my house, tackling it room by room, and taking care of what needed to be done right away. Shopping was a way to procrastinate my chores, but once I got home, everything was still waiting for me, and I would feel even more overwhelmed knowing that I still had to somehow get it all accomplished.
Shopping Purely as Recreation
I can admit it: shopping is just plain fun to me. That is probably never going to change. I'll concede that there's something about the whole process that I enjoy, and in fact the only part I dislike is the guilt it makes me feel if I'm buying something that I know I don't have the budget for. Shopping purely for recreation is something I used to do a lot of. Even shopping online was fun for me, because browsing the internet for items you might like to have never really gets old. There are almost endless possibilities online when it comes to shopping, so it really can be quite the temptation. Although shopping is fun for me, and sometimes there may be nothing wrong with that, I had to realize that charging on my credit cards for items I don't really need (or that my hubby and boys don't really need) does not get us into a good place financially. In time I realized that getting out of debt and staying debt-free is more important than partaking in shopping and enjoying the fun factor and the happiness (however fleeting) that it gives me. My family and our financial state is more important to me now.
What I Do Instead of Going Shopping
I'm not saying shopping is of the devil. I'm also not saying I never go shopping anymore. Of course, I still do, especially for groceries and other household items. However, what I am saying is that I have paid off all my credit cards except one, and I don't walk into a department store and make charges on my credit card anymore.
So what do I do instead of going shopping? Well, in those quiet times when I'm not with family or friends, and it's just me and my kids, we do art projects. We watch a movie together that we already own (or one from Netflix or Youtube). We bake together, or play at the park. I consciously focus on my house and trying to become the best homemaker I can be. I work on my bible study homework (I'm currently in a women's bible study for the book of Esther). I also just started doing pre-school homeschooling with my older son, who will be 4 years old in November. I'm teaching him about one letter of the alphabet per week, and we are doing different crafts that correspond to each letter. Being more intentional with my kids and focusing on my role as a wife and mother, and homeschool teacher, is really helping curb my temptations to shop! Plus, when I look around and count my blessings, and realize how much stuff I already own, I realize that I really don't need a new outfit, a new movie on DVD, a new knick nack for my house, or really anything else. We have what we need already. It is all right here; we just have to use it.
So, my challenge for you (and myself) is, utilize what you already have. Take out your art supplies, and create. Look through your DVD collection, and pick a film to watch as a family. Get your children's bikes out of the garage, and help them ride around the neighborhood. We have so much to enjoy. And the best part is, it's already here, right at our fingertips.