The other day a friend mentioned that she was shopping for a new desk for her nine year old son. She mentioned that his current bedroom set was originally purchased at Ethan Allen and that she “did not want to go that route again.” Over the years, I have heard that a lot. Parents have spent a bundle on furniture for young children and then regretted it. I was the same way.
It is very exciting when a couple has its first child. Grandparents overspend. Parents overspend. Friends give great gifts. The baby’s bedroom looks wonderful! Two years later, the baby is a toddler and needs new furniture. The baby furniture is then donated to charity or given to somebody else who is having a baby. In rare instances, the family planned for the transition and has another baby on the way so that big brother or big sister can pass his or her baby furniture on to the new arrival.
Kids are going to grow up. They grow up fast. They break things. It is inevitable. Both of my kids had really nice bedroom sets at every phase of childhood. My elder son destroyed most of his furniture over time. My younger son has taken better care of his furniture, but it really has proven to be too big for his room so a lot of it has been removed as he has required more space.
Of course, the same can be said of clothing. Kids will outgrow their clothing rapidly or they will find ways to destroy it. Buying designer name clothing that will serve a purpose for only a few months is wasteful. I suspect that just about everyone who reads this column already knows that.
The thing is…I doubt many kids will read this column.
In a day and age in which kids tend to have far more expensive belongings than ever before, a child can feel left out or can actually be left out, if he or she does not enjoy some of the status that his or her peers enjoy. I just can’t bring myself to encourage spending on things that will serve a purpose for almost no time. As a result, I turned towards more durable goods that I knew they would enjoy for a long time and that they could continue using for years as long as they did not break them.
I did not hesitate to buy a good laptop when my elder son first needed one. When my younger son wanted an iPod for Christmas, I did not skimp on memory or function. I knew both boys well enough that I felt confident that they would both care for their consumer electronics and use them. That has proven to be the case for years. More importantly, because they both had their toys, I could feel better about not spending huge sums of money on their bedroom sets, which are nice and practical but not expensive. I also felt better about saying no to designer brands when the brand was the only justification for desiring a purchase.
How do you spend when you are spending for kids? Should kids enjoy bedrooms that are practical or luxurious? Do you spend more on your kids than you do on yourself? What things should all kids own?