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.

The Case for Quiet Time (for You and Your Kids)

Nap time is a beautiful thing for a stay at home parent like myself. My child’s naps were crucial to my sanity and made me a better mom for the rest of the day. Then, one sad day, those naps came to a halt. I know that some parents embrace this change because it means they are free to leave the house and don’t have to schedule their day around the ever important nap time. Not me. I would support my children taking naps forever if they were inclined to do so. But alas, that is not in store for me. With the termination of naps came the birth of the glorious quiet time. So what is quiet time and why is it so important?

THE DETAILS:

In our house, quiet time typically happens when my baby takes his second nap around 2pm. My daughter goes into her playroom where she plays by herself for about an hour. Typically, she entertains herself pretty easily the entire time. Occasionally, she has trouble getting started so I will help get her engaged in some way. I will get out the Play-Doh, suggest an art project, set up a make shift tent, pretend her dolls are sick and that they need her doctor expertise to get better, etc. Once she gets involved, she is good to go and I get my much needed hour break (assuming the baby actually stays asleep).

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Occasionally I will use the beginning of my son’s nap time to connect with my daughter if I’ve had a busy morning. We might bake something, have lunch together, read a few books or play one of her make believe games before beginning quiet time. It all depends on how the day is going and what all of our needs are.

Also, there are times when my daughter entertains herself for a long chunk of time without me suggesting it. On these days, I will skip or at least shorten quiet time or I’ll put on a show for her later in the day when her brother is sleeping so that I still get my break.

TIPS:
  • Set a timer and let your children know that when it goes off, their quiet time is over. When I do this, my daughter is much better about staying in the playroom until quiet time is over.
  • If possible, start implementing quiet time as soon as your child is finished with naps altogether. This will make the transition easier.
  • Don’t allow electronics. This is not the time for shows or games on the iPad.
  • Be consistent. If you only have quiet time every few days, you are bound to meet some resistance. If your child knows it is part of the daily routine, they will embrace it much more easily.
  • Start slowly. If you are trying out quiet time for the first time, try starting with twenty minutes and add increments of time throughout the week until you are at your desired amount of time.
  • Let your child know when quiet time is happening ahead of time. I remind my daughter almost every day that when her brother goes to sleep, quiet time begins.
BENEFITS FOR CHILDREN:

Boredom is a childhood right and without it, our kids miss out on the chance to learn how to entertain themselves. We can’t expect our children to play happily by themselves if we don’t provide them with consistent, unstructured time to do just that. When a problem presents itself during quiet time, the child has to face it head on without mom and dad stepping in which builds their confidence in themselves. Self reliance is a fundamental life skill that can be encouraged at a very young age (I have to remind myself of this when the helicopter mom in me rears its ugly head).

By implementing quiet time every day, we are giving our kids an opportunity to learn about themselves and their interests. This is when their imagination takes ahold of them and they can immerse themselves in play and explore the things that spark their curiosity. When we quiet down the world around them, our children can listen to themselves more easily and deeply.

Quiet time is especially useful on busy days. Even if they don’t realize it, kids need time to process what happened at school or that playdate in an un-stimulating environment. If it’s go go go all the time, our children will eventually crash (usually right around dinner time) and they will turn into a tearful, raging mess. Children encounter stressful experiences just like we do, but they don’t always know how to cope with these stressors. Relaxing mid day is a healthy way to process life’s anxieties and is a tool they will continue to use into adulthood.

Young children crave routine because it gives them a sense of security in a world full of the unknown. Quiet time adds to the rhythm of the day which provides our children with comfort they can count on.

BENEFITS FOR PARENTS:

Quiet time for parents is like a deep breath. We have a chance to gather our thoughts, focus on what needs getting done, and just be alone for a moment. Parents can use this time to fold the laundry, prep dinner in peace, clean the bathrooms, take a shower, or just take a god damn break. I typically check in with my tasks for the day, try to get one thing done off my to do list and then do something just for me like listen to a podcast or read a book.  Some days. I focus entirely on tidying or cleaning and other days I am so exhausted that I just lay there on the couch, surfing the internet.

Sometimes we just need a little bit of space. Our kids are like magnets to us: crawling at our feet while we are trying to make dinner, popping their heads in the bathroom to say hi while we are trying to take a shit in peace, and literally hanging on us throughout the day. We love our children, but sometimes we need a physical break from them in order to recharge. Remember that old phrase, distance makes the heart grow fonder? It applies to our kids as well. When I was working part time, I would pick up my daughter from her Granny’s house and I swear she was cuter and sweeter than ever during that first hour of our reunion. Having a short separation during the day gives both parents and children the energy to seize the rest of the day together.

Do you have quiet time at your house? Leave a comment explaining what quiet time looks like for your family.