Why I Ended My Love Affair with Target

My adorable kids during one of our many Target trips.

Oh Target, how I loved thee. On days when my kids were driving me crazy, I knew I could escape through your red doors and everything would be okay. If I needed food for dinner, a present for my nephew and another cup of coffee, you were my one and only.  As a new mom, you provided me with simple comforts (other tired parents that made me feel less alone, a reason to put on a bra and clothes that fit my postpartum body) when I desperately needed them and I thank you for that. But times have changed, and so have I. Your once soothing atmosphere has begun to feel suffocating and so it is time for me to move on.

A TYPICAL TARGET DAY

I drop off my daughter for a half day of preschool and head straight over to Target with my baby in tow. There, I see no less than three other preschool parents doing the exact same thing. We give each other an awkward yet knowing nod and I make my way to Starbucks to buy a latte (because you know this isn’t going to be a quick ten minute shopping trip). I’m feeling good and I’m pumped to get this show on the road. My first stop is the dollar section (thank you child laborers) where I can’t help but pick out a few random trinkets because they cost less than my latte, so why the hell not.

I  head on over to the grocery section, but wait! I can’t pass by those new summer dresses. And look at those cute jogger pants… I need those too. Okay, focus Abby. I go get the eggs and milk and move on to the cleaning supplies section, but before I can grab the paper towels, I am bombarded with the Nate Berkus office supplies. I see a gold stapler that  would look baller on my desk. Oh and gold scissors to match? Definitely need those! Are those pineapple shaped bookends? I didn’t know I even wanted those but now I have to have them.

I realize I need to get the hell out of there, but then I remember I haven’t grabbed the diapers which was the reason I came here in the first place. I take the elevator to the second floor and for a moment, I try to gather my self-control because I know what’s coming. The elevator doors part, and there in front of me are those damn kid clothes. This isn’t fair! My postpartum hormones can’t handle your adorable baby hoodies with ears and the pink dinosaur graphic tees. I angrily throw in the outfits and make a beeline for the diapers. I avoid the home section like the plague and head back to the elevator, thinking I have won a small victory, when I see the men’s clothing section. Fuck. I am buying all this stuff for me and yet my husband never treats himself.  I should at least get him a new t-shirt or work pants since he needs those things way more than I need this gold stapler (well, not wayyy more).

My cart is getting full and my baby is way past nap time so I sheepishly head towards the checkout line. The cashier picks up one item at a time to scan and bag it and the continuous beeps remind me that I bought way more than what I came here for. Two hundred dollars later and I am filled with an adrenalin rush (yay for new pretty things!) but also a pang of regret which I know will hit me more later.

IT’S NOT YOU, IT’s me

So why the break up? Target in and of itself is not a bad thing and plenty of people have a healthy relationship with it, but after examining the problem areas of my life, I realized that this shopping ritual was holding me back. I was spending money (and a shit ton of it) I didn’t have on things I didn’t need that were cluttering up my home and my mind. The exhilaration I got from shopping was short lived and I was left wanting more.  I was trying to fill a void in my life and it wasn’t working. Going to Target was like turning the television on at the end of the day- I did it because it was a habit that was entertaining and comforting, but it was getting in the way of who I wanted to become. Sometimes, being comfortable can be a curse. If you crave change in your life, you have to embrace being uncomfortable and break out of your routines. I realized that I had to let go of my Target addiction if I wanted to discover more about myself and what I wanted (and if I hoped to retire one day).

My daughter exploring the great outdoors.

LIFE SANS TARGET

After kicking the shopping habit, I am discovering that I have plenty of time in my week to do the things I really want to do. I have more time to get together with family (the reason I moved here in the first place). I get shit done that has been piling up on my to do list. I take a little time to connect one on one with my baby. Sometimes I do a whole lot of nothing and it feels amazing. While my daughter is at school, I put my baby down for his nap and I make myself breakfast while listening to a podcast with zero interruptions. I have time to enjoy the peace and quiet and listen to my own goddamn thoughts and it is fabulous.

Creating pockets of slow time in my day to reset myself is key to me being less irritable and happier overall. I wake up excited to take on the day. I spend more time outside: going on walks, playing at the playground, gardening or simply hanging out on my deck with my kids and husband.  The fresh air and tweeting birds somehow shoo away the grumpy attitudes, and we come away from the experience feeling reenergized and more relaxed. These are not transient feelings like my Target highs. These are experiences that enrich me and my family’s lives and they typically don’t cost a cent.

do you have a love hate relationship with target? leave a comment if you can relate to the complexities of my love affair.

4 thoughts on “Why I Ended My Love Affair with Target

  1. Jacquie says:

    I definitely relate to your feelings. It’s like the check out at the grocery store-just filled with items you and your kids don’t need but such a temptation. Think how much better our world would be if the check out line was filled with blurbs to read such as: be a thoughtful driver; or why a book before bed is better than TV etc etc!

    Like

  2. Lizzle Dizzle says:

    Hi Abby, I am excited to finally read your blog (I’d heard tell of it from some of your biggest fans)! I too struggle with a general shopping addiction, as do probably most Americans though they may not consider it a problem (acknowledging you have a problem is the first step of recovery! haha).We are so bombarded with convincing commercials and “consumer culture” that I think most people on a basic level ingest and believe the lie that stuff=happiness. Of course this is not true, but we all enjoy the “rush” of purchasing things, or else we wouldn’t do it. But it’s not a sustaining, fulfilling high. It’s like the pleasure of lighting up a cigarette, you enjoy it, feeling the rush, but after it’s over you have a cough and just crave more cigarettes.

    I have read Spark Joy, and it has had a big impact on the way I view the material things that are truly needed or not needed in my daily life. And “living tiny” on our sailboat has made us really prioritize our stuff in a practical way, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t have a wall to ceiling, chalk-full storage space of the furniture and other household goods stowed away for later need. 😦

    There is a whole treasure trove of information about how capitalism shapes our consumer culture, and when you really look at it critically it is rather disheartening. Here’s a quick little article that better illustrates my point:

    http://smallbusiness.chron.com/consumer-culture-57886.html

    So, you are not alone. We are all brain washed to participate in this shopping addict behavior! Break the cycle, baby! I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    Like

    • Abigail Junge says:

      These are such great points! It’s funny, when I hear people talk (or read articles) about stuff=happiness, I always think “duh of course not, I don’t fall for that lie”. But then when you examine your own life more closely, you can usually find evidence that you have been falling into the consumerism trap. I especially loved buying new clothes and the rush that followed but one of the problems is that I was shopping so often that I would make myself only buy cheap stuff in order to allow myself to keep up with my shopping (does that make sense?). I am not against buying clothes/furniture/whatever but I would rather get high quality items that will last and do it less often. Quality of quantity. I also spend way more time considering my purchase before I hand over the credit card.

      I also read Spark Joy! (Honestly I will read anything written by my Kondo hero.) I want to hear all about your sailboat life. In fact, I have been meaning to ask you if you would be open to an interview about that. Yay? Nay? I bet this experience is going to completely change your view of that stuff in storage. I am so jealous of your life right now!

      Thanks for the article! Disheartening is right. I especially hate to think of my kids growing up to want want want so I am working hard on doing my best to not let the advertisers get to them just yet but it is a constant battle. Limiting their toys and not saying yes when they ask for things at the store has been crucial for us. Thanks so much for your comment Elizabeth! Hope you enjoy reading my blog 🙂

      Like

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