Rehab 101

I did it. I survived one month of shopaholic rehab. I bought nothing but food, diapers and household essentials for 31 days. Well, except for two situations…

There was one incident where I talked my mom into adding a Kindle cover for me to her order. Technically it was a gift, and adding the cover to her order got her free shipping, so it was a win-win situation for everyone, right?

Also, I bought books and puzzles for the kids when we were on vacation. It was the first night we used the resort’s babysitting services and I wanted to give them a surprise for being good with the sitter, and, of course, to ease my guilt for leaving them with one.

I wasn’t flawless, but I think I did a pretty good job of cutting my impulse spending, and I started chipping away at my shopping addition. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1.My name is Jen and I’m an emotional shopper. Based on my Google research, this appears to be a real syndrome. The vacation incident I mentioned above is a classic example of how my emotions propel me to shop. This is going to take time to fix, but I’m starting to feel (it’s an actual physical sensation for me) the difference between healthy and unhealthy shopping.

2.I want a lot, but I don’t need a lot. This one is simple. I didn’t buy anything for a month and I’m still alive. I wasn’t seduced by free shipping or buy one get one free offers and I’m okay. Happy, actually. In fact, I’ve spent more time writing, running, reading and, this one’s tough to admit, playing with my kids. As it turns out, wanting (and buying) things I don’t need makes me anxious and unproductive.

3.When I open my closet and think, I have nothing to wear, it has nothing to do with the clothes in my closet. I had one of these emergencies last week. Riley was sick and so clingy that he would’ve crawled back inside me if he could. I had to bring him to the doctor that morning where I knew I would wait for an eternity. (FYI: Actual wait time was an hour and 15 minutes. This should be illegal.) That afternoon, I would be tortured by “Thomas The Train” DVDs, and that evening I would have to leave the kids with a babysitter, with Riley kicking and screaming because of his clinginess, to go to the open house at school where I would juggle meeting with both kids’ teachers because Mike wasn’t going with me. So there I stood in my closet thinking about the day ahead, with Riley hanging on my left leg for dear life, and I couldn’t catch my breath. That was all I needed to declare, I have nothing to wear.

4.Shopping is fun…in moderation. It’s noble to accessorize the same black top and jeans every time you go out, but when it’s your anniversary or your birthday, it’s also nice to wear something that makes you feel special. I look forward to this special occasion shopping. I just have to remind myself that I don’t have to spend $200 at the Gap just because it’s 10% Tuesday.

What’s next? Definitely more rehab, but with a little bit of wiggle room so I can test my new skills. I also want to work on extending what I’m learning to my kids. Riley hasn’t exhibited any shopaholic symptoms yet, but it’s quite possible that Dylan is worse off than me. As I sit here editing this post, Dylan is reading a book and pointing at the pictures saying “I wanna buy that and that and that and that and…” Oy.

To start, we’re going to donate some of our vast collection of toys this fall. I plan to include Dylan in the process to start teaching him the importance of being charitable. I also hope to make Chanukah a holiday of giving instead of receiving. My plan is help the kids pick out a charitable organization and make a small donation in their name. Please don’t call me the Grinch (my husband does!). We celebrate Christmas, too, so the kids will get plenty of presents.

Do you have any tips or ideas to keep kids from turning into shopping addicts? Please share them in the comment space on the blog. I could use all the help I can get! Thanks!

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Filed under Shopaholic Mama, shopaholism, Uncategorized

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