I dislike hate shopping. I know it's unusual for a girl to say that but it's just.so.damn.tedious! All that work and I still don't get half the stuff I want. So usually groceries are home delivered, veggies are brought in by my cook and the only thing I like buying are fruits and stationery.
Sometimes we need more stuff. Such as coffee mugs cuz we broke too many, or a new couch cover cuz the current ones fading away. You know, stuff that you notice when guests come over! Stuff that cannot be home-delivered cuz you gotta go and CHOOSE which crappy mug you want amongst the crappiest ones you'll ever find on this planet. I take my husband along, since there isn't any point of being married if I have to suffer alone, is there?
His eyes pop out when we're at the cashier, what!! That many ₹₹₹ for these crappy things! Uh. Yes. And then I bring to his attention the stuff we got for our 3 year old.
Ear buds, sugar cubes, and snow spray. All for under $2/ ₹120. "This is what our son plays with!"
And isn't that amazing?
I bought sugar cubes and he spent an hour transferring colored water with droppers over them, watching the sugar absorb color.
I bought ear buds for almost nothing and he has filled pages and pages of dot-a-dot sheets with them over the period of months!
I got him snow spray and we sprayed playfully it all over having a time of our lives!
I gave him the scale and weighing scale, and he measured things for a couple of afternoons! He even learnt what is 100, "This toy is only 200, but this ones 600 mama!" (PS: before you think I'm completely mad, I haven't taught him grams and centimeters yet!)
I got him 5 different colored disposable torches for $2 and he played with them excitedly for a week! Carried one around wherever he went, even read books under torch light at bedtime!
This compared to a cool double loop racing car track that he got as a Christmas gift for god knows how many ₹₹₹ which he played with for a week. Then it gathered dust for a month or so till I finally put it inside. Don't get me wrong, he LOVED it and he LOVES cars, but I guess a little variation works.
For eg he took three of the montessori red rods (that I'd made), tied them up with rubber bands and used it as a makeshift ramp for his cars. For several days in a row.
My point is that I have completely stopped buying "toys" for him for a year. The only toy I bought was a marble run which he played extensively for weeks and also learnt a lesson about not putting marbles in his mouth!
I feel "toys" that are available in stores aren't very productive. Except for cars, playdoh and balls. What's the point of buying a full doctors toy set when a real stethoscope comes cheaper - AND is effective since you can actually hear heartbeats? And a real torch with which he can actually see the back of your tongue? And the rest- otoscope, injection, etc left to the imagination!
Whats the point of buying a full fledged kitchen set when all he needs are a few pots and pans in his sensory tub of colored rice and coffee beans.
I realised what a giant marketing gimmick the whole baby industry is, a few months into being a mother. All you need is a baby bed and diapers (and as in my case, breast pumps and bottles). Do you really need a diaper changing table? A walker, bouncer or rocker? Or a whole nursery painted and decorated in a particular way? The baby's gonna be a baby only for a year! And he's too busy bonding with his mother, figuring out how to crawl, learning how to spit out food or bawling his brains out to notice the decor!
As a 1 year old, my kid played for hours together with cups and water. Pouring it from one to another and back and doing things that make no sense to an adult, but he was thoroughly engaged and enjoying it! Give him a broom and he would be brooming for hours together, or a dusting cloth and he would be excitedly cleaning the windows. He would stand in front of a drawer for an hour, inspecting all contents. We would open a different drawer every week!
Similarly I've learnt in the past year that there are SO many engaging and entertaining activities that can be set up for preschoolers and toddlers, using simple stuff that's easy to buy, inexpensive AND requires very little prep time. If nothing, just we put on our sneakers and go out for a walk and collect stones and branches. If I'm lazy to go out (more often that not!), place a tub or basket at one end of the room and throw balls of all sizes into it, ie. mini basket ball!
If I had a whole lotta money (could've happened if I were still working!) I would've STILL BEEN stingy on stuff and spent it all on travelling, like I used to. I may be against piling stuff at home, but I buy a crazy amount of books and puzzles for him and I've made sure he has had a baby cycle, tricycle or a bicycle ever since he was 9 months old.
I don't mean to offend parents who buy stuff, in fact I'm a big believer of "you MUST do whatever suits YOU and YOUR family". It just doesn't make any sense to ME, as I've found kick ass, most fabulous alternatives! That's all!