July 4, 2016
That was the day I hit rock bottom at Target.
Here’s my little secret…I shop for my feelings. If I have something to celebrate, I shop. If #momlife has me all in a kurfluffle, I shop. If I feel sad or anxious about something, I shop. And I ride that high from my retail therapy all the way home from the store, where I then hide the bags so my husband doesn’t see them. I have a certain dry shampoo that I use (dry shampoo = necessity of mom life) that they have at the grocery store, but it’s close to $1 more at the grocery store than it is at Target, so I tell myself, “I’ll go there and save money.” But I save absolutely nothing. First of all, the drive itself is probably $1. But hey, anything for a fix.
The day I hit rock bottom was in fact, the 4th of July 2016.
I found myself seduced by all the holiday stuff in the Dollar Spot section at the very front of the store. I bought a cute tote, fun stars & stripes sunglasses for my boys, a breezy red, white & blue scarf for me (Really, Jennie? A scarf on a day that is on average 107 degrees? Yeah. Really.), a baseball cap & beer coozy for my husband. Even a little collar & bow for my dog, who is petrified of fireworks and not even going with us to the festivities. Oh, let’s not forget the miniature American flags for us to wave and the glow sticks. If it was made overseas to celebrate America, I bought it.
Then guess what happened. I got home, put my haul in the cute $3 tote bag and hid it in the closet until we were ready to go. That evening, my family and I headed off to meet up with my folks for fireworks at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler. We had a great time watching our preschool age son play catch with Daddy and the baby display his bravery by crawling on the actual grass. We ate sandwiches, drank sodas, and ooohed & aaahed at every firework that went up that night. We left feeling full of pride for this incredible nation we live in and grateful for the independence that our founding fathers fought so hard for.
A few days later, I was putting away some laundry when I spotted that tote bag in the closet. I had forgotten all about it. All that stuff stayed home in the closet. Now just clutter in my already cluttered closet. My stomach churned and an overwhelming sense of anxiety came over me. Everything in my closet was attacking me from hangers and bags. I had a problem.
I was a shopaholic. I needed to change.
Right then and there, I made a vow to myself that I was going on a 30 day stuff diet. There would be no trips to Target. No Amazon orders. No purchases of stuff. I did jot down some essentials that I knew I would need to replenish, like dry shampoo, personal hygiene & household maintenance items. Other than that, though, it was going to be groceries only. I also bought the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I decided that part of my problem was that I had so much stuff, that I couldn’t see straight, which clouded my judgment towards bringing more stuff home. I needed to un-stuff myself. All of that work is a whole other blog post that I will save for another time.
Going 30 days without buying new stuff was actually not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I made it easy by not going to the places where I would be likely to have a relapse. I announced my stuff diet plan to my husband and I’m pretty sure I saw his eyeballs turn into actual hearts for what he just heard me say. What was hard for me was that I felt really bored and stir crazy. I realized that having a second baby was actually quite stressful, isolating, and hard so when I didn’t know what to do with myself, I went shopping. The baby would sleep, my preschooler would ride in the cart like it was his own superhero vehicle/police car. I would buy him some stuff if he was a good boy. I would buy him stuff even if he wasn’t. Instead of shopping, I had to harness my New Baby: Round 2 anxious energy towards something more productive & beneficial. Like cleaning out my closet, which I’m still doing a year later, and being intentional about setting up play dates to keep ME occupied.
After the 30 days was up, I was definitely more aware of buying stuff and accumulating more stuff. The month of August was fairly stuff free, but then my oldest’s birthday came around in September. Then Halloween. Then the Holidays. At some point, my husband said,
“Can we go back to that whole ‘not shopping at Target’ thing?”