1. Oh man, that list… It reminds me of us when we were first time parents in the similar situation. Like you, we didn’t end up with everything we were looking at that we thought we needed, but it’s still impressive how quickly some of that stuff adds up.

    I was mindlessly shopping last Friday, killing time at work when I realized, “screw this, I should just leave and go do anything else more productive.” So I did.

    It’s rare for me to mindlessly shop nowadays, but back in my spending heyday… Oh man… I would’ve bought everything on your list above without a second thought. I’m glad my mindset has changed so that I don’t do that anymore.

    • I thought I was really out of the habit of shopping for shopping’s sake. In fact, I really haven’t been shopping even for needs because I was on such a decluttering and Freecycling kick this summer. It’s amazing how one stressful situation nearly toppled everything!

  2. Mmhmm! Even though I’m really good at usually not letting shopping be therapy, it can be a useful indicator of stress for me. I don’t fight to disallow it completely, I know there’s some emotion I’ve not yet worked out when the urge to shop for no reason strikes, so I give myself some kind of reasonable time limit on the urge and then force myself to think through what’s truly bothering me.

    I had a cart full of baby things at Kohl’s two weeks ago too, and that was more about grabbing clearance gifts but it was also about missing that cuddly Michelin man rolls baby stage sooooo much. It was also about a few other feelings of inadequacy that “providing” would temporarily soothe until the shipment arrived and then I’d need another hit. So I didn’t click Buy on that cart either.

    I have similar feelings about part time parenting but I know that JB is learning so much more at daycare than I’d be able to provide one on one. Sigh.

  3. I feel your pain, Penny. Mrs. Oldster and I have one child. A child it took us 10 years to get (after invoking pretty much all of medical science, a doctor observed that my wife was an attorney and perhaps the stress was too much – a leave of absence and 2 months later she was pregnant – she did not go back to the law). All of that to say, when our daughter was born, we were radically predisposed to spoiling. And we tried. Fortunately for her you can’t really spoil a baby with things. They just don’t care. And we got out of that mind set early enough that, by the time she could notice, we only did routine spoiling 🙂 . The litmus test for any purchase for a child is “who is this really for?”. Sounds like you got there before hitting the buy button. That is the important thing.

    As your son gets older, don’t hesitate to share those thoughts with him. The earlier he grasps the difference between wants and needs, the easier, and more satisfying his life will be. I like to think we parents go through these things for a reason. Namely, so that our kids won’t have to.

    • Oh, Oldster! I am so glad that your wife was able to make that career change and do what was right for your family. How amazing.

      And you can’t spoil them, can you? He doesn’t even care! At this age, he has his tastes and interests. No matter how many things I try to add to the pile, he can’t be bothered. It feels a lot like getting a gift and making an apology for someone who doesn’t know anything is wrong in the first place…because nothing is wrong. Parenting is complicated stuff!

  4. Geeze, Penny. This paragraph is spot on and stirs up all sorts of emotions …

    “I would also be lying if I said that I’ve found a way to reconcile the fact that I spend more time with strangers’ kids than I do my own. It’s hard to be a full-time worker and a part-time parent. I know these feelings will pass”

    I spend more time w/ coworkers (far more time) than I do with my own family and it kills me. And I’ve been thinking recently about how I’ve gotten used to it (i.e. “these feelings will pass”) and I’m kinda bothered that I’m used to it.

    Other than aggressively attack my finances and reach FI ASAP, I don’t know what else to do though, because I’m still dependent upon that paycheck.

    Best of luck with another school year and with day care!

    • I think we all need to spend a lot of time looking at the things we get used to. Like you said, though, I don’t know how we fix it. I do know that I am very lucky to be in a position where I feel like the people I spend my days with are a second family. It doesn’t change how much I miss my real family, though. But it does help to feel like it is still meaningful time.

  5. I’ve been clothes shopping up a storm due to some severe stress. To be fair, I could’ve stood to have a few more shirts (especially for FinCon) anyway. And also to be fair, only two of the shirts were bought at retail (by which I mean TJ Maxx) prices. The rest have been thrift store finds. But it’s still getting out of hand. And yet I want to buy more,and I’m having to tamp down the desire/FOMO to go scour more thrift store racks looking for amazing finds.

    I don’t have the time constraint you do — other than when I should be blogging, I have copious amounts of free time — but it’s still a problem overall. Even if it’s not taking all that much out of the budget, it’s not a healthy way to deal with the stress. Unfortunately, there’s no way to deal with the stress just yet… Soon, though. Until then… I’ll just Netflix it up and try to resist the urge to go out for “just a couple more things.”

    • It is stress shopping, isn’t it?! SIGH. It does sound like you’ve been getting good deals and were being far more reasonable that what I was trying to buy. Still, I think I’m going to steal your plan of finding a show or a book or some other distraction until the stress passes.

      It does pass, right?


  6. Gahhh I spent so much extra month our son’s first two years of life. You tell yourself part of why you work is so he “can have nice things” in order to feel less guilty. Ugh. So much crap. Real daycare is such a hard transition (or at least if you have a kiddo like mine who struggles with it for way too long – he loves it now). Hugs, mama.

  7. Oh Penny, I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling sad. You’re a great parent, and little HP is so lucky!! 🙂

    I used to impulse shop to cope with depression. I spent over $1,000 on Amazon alone; it was bad. Honestly, if I’m about to shop online now, I go for a walk. Doesn’t matter what time it is or what the weather’s like. I go move my feet. Because usually we buy things to fill a void. A walk reminds me that things are okay, and I don’t need three pairs of skirts to be happy.

    You’re doing a great job, and it’s going to be okay again real soon. 🙂

    • You are so right about going for walks. And oh do we walk! Thankfully, HP has a little push car thing that he’s obsessed with. I’ve taken to just shutting my phone off (it’s hard because I’m also trying to take photos!). I want to give him my time. My shopping cart is too much of a distraction!

  8. Karen

    What comes through in this post to me is your deep feelings about this new phase for you and HP (going back to teaching and entering daycare) I know you know this, it is a good experience for all that you are working and that hp is in a good environment, but it doesn’t change that you are entering a new era for your family and that is emotional. As a teacher myself, I can only say, working while my child went to daycare (she’s now 20!) made me a more empathetic teacher and her a more socialized little person. In other words you know it is gonna be ok, but still there’s gonna be doubts, a little guilt maybe, and certainly some anxiety. Stay flexible, especially with who is gonna do the drop off (typically dads have an easier drop off and moms have an easier time picking up) You are gonna get through this, yes, it’s gonna be a little tricky at first, but its gonna be ok. Best of luck and remember how terrific it’s gonna be teaching those wonderful students of yours and how lucky they are that you are back in the classroom.

  9. Hugs! I’m still tempted to shop from time to time out of boredom or emotions I don’t want to look at. You can tell yourself all you like about the silliness of it but it still feels like a feeling you want as opposed to the others. I can’t make it easier for you to be apart from your son but I can tell you that you’re doing your best for him, even in part by showing him women can be strong earners. That doesn’t make it any easier, tho.

  10. It takes a lot of self awareness to be able to recognize your emotions and feelings. I’m heading back to work too and feeling similar emotions. Nervous about being able to hand full time work. It will be hard during day care, but he will learn so much and get to learn to socialize with other toddlers. We are thinking of finding a drop in day care for our little one just for the social aspect and to give my husband a break.
    He might love it!

  11. A wonderful article. My son starts daycare in a week, I totally get where you are coming from. The stuff doesn’t matter….contrary to what marketers want us to believe, kids really don’t need that much. No matter how many new toys we buy our little guy he just wants to play with Tupperware, boxes, remotes and, of course, our cell phones. I also enjoy working and I know it is what is best for me and my family BUT, until you have a kid it’s hard to anticipate the intense bond and leaving them with a “stranger” just doesn’t seem natural. Though, at 16 months I am starting to feel like my son needs more than just me and my husband. He needs some new little buds to keep up with his never ending energy!!

    • I think daycare is so good for kids. I am 100% biased as a teacher, but I really do think there’s something that educators can do for our kiddos that we can’t.

      But whoa is it an adjustment!

  12. This reminds me of when my wife went back to work four months after giving birth to our son. A few days before she had to go back, the two of us went to Walmart and she wanted to buy all these toys and clothes for him and I wondered why she wanted to do all that. She said that she wanted him to have a whole lot of stuff to play with to keep him occupied and also have a whole bunch of clothes for him. I told her that he already has enough toys and clothes. Plus her parents are babysitting him so he was in good hands. She agreed and put most of the stuff back in the store with the exception of a few items.
    I didn’t really think much about that occurrence until I read your post and now I figured why she was like that, it was because she was going to be apart from our son now and wanted to supply him an overwhelming amount of unnecessary items.

  13. Oh, Penny, this is beautiful. I’m not a parent but I can imagine how hard and sad this transition is. Hugs for you as you work through this, and your son and your students are so lucky to have you in their lives.

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