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The Great “Pamper Yourself” Irony

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Are you making these mistakes in front of your children?

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and advertising is in full force. How you respond to that advertising may have a direct impact on your children, whether you realize it or not.

If your kids are like mine, they’re begging to have everything that they see, whether they could actually use it or not. My son has asked for everything from a cell phone (he’s five, and the answer was a firm “no”) to a My Little Pony (his sister might like it, and I guess I should be grateful that he didn’t ask for a real pony).

While it’s frustrating to see advertisements geared toward children, it’s even more irritating to see how advertisers have totally twisted the idea behind gift-giving.

I was so excited to receive the latest issue of Marie Claire. I’m not a fashionable person by any means. In fact, my friends called me a “soccer mom” long before I even thought about having kids. I love looking through Marie Claire for fashion inspiration, though, especially before the holidays, just so I can see how truly fashionable people dress for holiday parties.

At any rate, I was disappointed to open up the magazine to find the first article (which spanned the first 34 pages, including advertisements) about luxurious gift giving. While luxurious gifts aren’t exactly my soccer-mom style, I was still interested to see what was listed. Unfortunately, the top 50 luxe gifts were meant to be given as presents to pamper….drumroll, please…. yourself.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about pampering myself with a nice glass of wine and a brownie while I curl up and read a book after the kids are in bed. I’ve also planned girls’ overnight trips and date nights with the farmer to take a break from reality. Pampering yourself and taking some “me time” is nice, especially during the stressful holiday season.

But would I actually buy myself a $3,000 Cartier bracelet to pamper myself for Christmas? And since when does a $3,000+ “to-me-from-me gift” constitute as pampering? Am I the only one who thinks that’s a bit extravagant, especially as a “pamper yourself because you deserve it” present? Thanks, but I’ll stick to the brownies that cost less than $2 to make and the wine that I bought on sale for $4.50 (bonus points if you buy four bottles and get an extra 10% discount) at my local grocery store.

Call me cheap, but I learned this lesson in kindergarten. At school, I spent my Secret Santa money buying my mom a mug, my dad nail clippers, and myself a fabulous toy that lasted less than a day. I quickly found out that it’s not always the best idea to use your Secret Santa money on gifts for yourself. It helped that my parents continued to remind me every year after that to use my money wisely (i.e., on presents for others).

Apparently, not every parent teaches their child to spend their Secret Santa money wisely. Advertisers are clearly banking on that missing message, even to adults. How do you expect children to be immune to advertising and the “me, me, me” mindset when advertisers are also propagating that mentality in adults?

As you complain about needing “me time,” receiving the latest and greatest present, and “pampering yourself,” are you taking into account the children sitting at your feet? Maybe that’s the reason why you need to pamper yourself, and again, there have been many days when I’ve wanted to do just that. Even so, we need to take it down a notch.

Teaching your children to think of others, be grateful, and spend their money wisely (and on others) is not easy. This is the perfect season to have those conversations (and model good behavior), though.

Instead of asking for (or buying yourself) extravagant gifts, try making do with what you have. Follow me on Pinterest for some easy and cheap ways to pamper yourself after the kids are in bed. You could also make your pampering mission a family affair. Involve the kids as you bake brownies and then sneak a few bites once they’re in bed. Take your kids to the library to pick out books for themselves as you pick out your next cheesy romance novel.

Instead of talking about “me time,” take some time to involve your children in the gift-giving process. Even if you don’t take your children shopping with you (or if you do all your shopping online, like I do), you can still discuss ideas for presents to give family members. Talk about how much each present costs, your budget for each person, and your total Christmas budget. Explain that presents cost money, but there are other ways to show that you care, like making cards, calling relatives on the phone, and spending time with loved ones, too.

This holiday season, let’s take some time to actually give thanks and be grateful for the important things in life. Rather than dreaming about ridiculous Cartier bracelets, dream about putting smiles on others’ faces. You can take some time to relax and pamper yourself (frugally and without spending enough money to feed every starving person in the world) later, when your kids aren’t looking. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it more this way!

How will you be enjoying the season and teaching your children the true meaning of the holidays this year?

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Tuesday 1st of December 2015

A $3,000 Cartier Bracelet around Christmas for MYSELF? Of course I can say no, just because that isn't near my budget. But even if it were, would I really do that? I would hope that if that was within my range, I would seriously consider putting some of that into helping out the less fortunate during Christmas. I wouldn't even give my kids something extravagant because I don't want any child of mine growing up entitled!

Alison Lange

Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

Exactly! My kids are excited to receive a pack of Oreos and a toothbrush in their stockings. ;) We do need to continue working on generosity, though. I sent my oldest son to school with extra money to buy his teacher a book at the book fair and he came home with one book for himself. It's a work in progress!