If you’re not a stranger to the blog, you probably already know this about me. When I’m stressed, I shop. The same is true for just about any other emotion, too. There’s a lot of talk about the endorphin rush and all the other science-y explanations for why people impulse shop. And those things are true, but it’s probably not the only reasons why I go running for my credit card when things get turbulent.
Being able to buy something gives me control and the ability to problem solve. Sometimes, it’s just an illusion. And sometimes it really does afford me control and problem solving.
Spending is also my default setting. Saving, practicing frugality, and being mindful with my spending are all learned behaviors. When things go wonky, back to my default, I go.
Since I know that about myself, and I’ve chronicled it quite a bit. Interestingly enough, when the pandemic and quarantine started, I didn’t actually think to make a specific post about what I was buying my son. Of course, we budget and track our spending, so I knew it would be easy to look up.
I just wasn’t sure I would want to.
After digging through my spending tracker and cross checking receipts with credit card transactions, here’s everything I’ve bought my son for the past two months and a list of free fun we are having, too.
Purchases I’ve Made for My Toddler During Quarantine
Shoes – $11
Marble Run – $20
Vtech Desk Expansion Packs – $40 (gift card)
Potty Training Toilet Seat – $12
Plastic Pin Art Toy – $1.10
None of these were needs except for the shoes. Somehow, we only had one pair of size 9 shoes, and somehow, the Velcro straps and faux leather just wore themselves out. It was cute of me to think that he could just wear his sandals, but it actually snowed three times in April. Closed shoes are a good thing in the Midwest.
Everything else falls squarely in the “want” camp. HP is obsessed with the Peppa Pig episode where she gets a marble run, so we finally bought him one that is compatible with his Duplo blocks. I’ve also been trying to buy those expansion packs since Christmas, but they’ve been out stock everywhere (except for $90 for a single pack on eBay!). We also probably could have continued to make due with the potty we had, but we really love the idea of him using a regular toilet. We thought the potty we had would convert, but the seat was really wobbly. And, uh, after almost turning our toilet into a toddler dunk tank, we bought one.
And that pin art toy? HP fell in love with the big display at the children’s museum and ran across the smaller one at Target before the lockdown started. When I saw it on super clearance on a grocery store run, I had to buy it for him. As much as anyone has to buy anything on a Target end cap.
RELATED POST: Everything I Tried to Buy My Toddler This Weekend
We’ve also bought training pants, wipes, and HP’s favorite (shelf stable) snacks. Because we are home all the time, he is basically potty trained. The amount of money that freed up in our monthly budget is really stunning. (We set aside $100/month for him, not including pre-school classes and Grandparent-Care.) It looks like we won’t even need the one pack of training pants, since he mostly uses reusable ones. We will wait until we are certain we can order more if there’s a need and then we’ll donate them to our local community pantry.
It looks like we’ll mostly use our money in May to pick up a few pieces of clothes to complete the sets of hand-me-downs we’ve received. That means that a good chunk of the $100 we set aside for baby/toddler spending each month can go to really important things. Like walks that end at the local ice cream shop.
Easy & Free Toddler Fun – Quarantine Edition
If this were any other post, I’d be dishing on our favorite library, talking about using the museum passes we already purchased, or even driving out to a new-to-us forest preserve or hiking trail.
But I’m writing this post smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks to self isolation and social distancing, our easy and free toddler fun looks a little different.
Grow Your Own Garden
We started with a bunch of leftover seeds from last year, and we’ve had quite a bit of luck so far. To get things going, we let HP do everything from scoop the dirt to sprinkle the seeds. The bad news is we are all but guaranteed to have an entire packet of carrots sprout from a single starter cell. The good news is that it kept him quite busy during the initial planting. He’s been busy in the garden beds, too, so that’s a win.
Make Chalk Paint
Normally, this is one of the inexpensive things we keep on hand. But this isn’t normal. Our stores have been out of sidewalk chalk for weeks, and I’m not venturing out besides an occasional (and fast!) grocery shop anyway.
Cornstarch, water, and a few drops of food coloring makes a terrific sidewalk chalk stand-in. This is going to make a sidewalk chalk paint. So you’ll need something to apply it with. We just used some foam painting brushes that I picked up at Dollar Tree last Halloween.
Play with Oobleck
The similarities between Oobleck and chalk paint are both amusing and alarming. Of course, if you’ve ever made Oobleck before, you know all the fun comes from using your hands. No brushes or applicators here!
This started as a kitchen floor experiment, and we quickly relocated to the bathtub. When HP is a little older, a kitchen chair will work just fine. At the age of two, the bathtub was the right call.
Whip Up Silky Play Dough
Are you sensing a theme here? Of course you are! Cornstarch! This frugalista bought exactly one container of cornstarch and we stretched it as far as we could. I wish I could say that being frugal or eco-conscious explained it. Truthfully, cornstarch is hard to find in the midst of a pandemic. Once I did find it, all baking items were a limit of one. So we made due with one container.
Since I was totally skeptical as to how two ingredient silky play dough would work, I grabbed a really cheap and heavily scented conditioner. It was worked out so well. No stained fingers and enough of a scent that our toddler knew not to try to eat it. (I can’t say the same for regular Play-Doh).
Dye Eggs Again & Again
Like many families, we celebrated Easter with family over Zoom this year. We also colored eggs together while staying apart. HP had so much fun dyeing eggs with his cousins that we invited my in-laws for a round two and colored them again ourselves. I used a leftover kit from last year and then I just followed the directions on the food coloring packaging. Since HP loves to eat hard-boiled eggs, this was a fun win.
Thoughts on Quarantine Spending & Free Toddler Fun
I’m happy that we have the ability to buy a few things and be resourceful to create our own fun. I’d like to say that this was a lesson in how much we love our parks and libraries. But we actually already knew that.
So Tell Me…Have you taken a look at your spending yet? Are you creating any DIY fun?