I still remember the first time a mom blogger I knew received a free sample of something.
It was a KY Personal lubricant and I was bummed that I didn't get any.
In the course of just over three years, things have completely changed. Not only do I have enough personal lubricants for my entire neighborhood (seriously, I know you all read this, c'mon over), but I get my fair share of product samples.
When Liz and I started Cool Mom Picks, we never really asked for samples. And on the rare occasion that we did, people would give us the hardest time, and understandably so - who were these two mom bloggers asking for one of my precious handmade onesies?
But we decided that for the most part, we'd give anyway most of the samples we received.
It still surprises people when we tell them that the giveaways we do on our site are not a means to drive traffic, but rather to give away the items we receive as part of writing the editorial feature. We need to see it, but we don't necessarily need to keep it.
There are times where I'd just as soon stash away the awesome diaper bags that are sent my way. But I don't.
But regardless of what we do with the products, that doesn't deal with a bigger issue. Something that has yet to be discussed with all this blogola bullshit.
What does getting all this free stuff teach our kids?
I'll be the first to admit that my kids are pretty spoiled. Every day they come home and ask what came in the mail for them.
And when I tell them that we're going to have to give it away, they throw themselves on the ground and act like they don't have 4000 toys sitting in the next room.
I think it's because my parents were so incredibly stingy that anything over five gifts at Christmas time makes me faint. I mean, at the ripe old age of 10, my mom would say "Here's $50. This has to cover your clothes for the entire school year."
So I have a hard enough time dealing with an over abundance of anything. I just recently got over the fact that I might have to buy more than one loaf of bread and gallon of milk at the grocery store. And the BlogHer swag situation nearly gave me a mini anxiety attack. Anytime my BFF commented on something I had received I tried to figure out a way to stuff it into her suitcase.
Too much stuff makes me crazy.
And apparently, it drives my kids a little insane as well. But worse, I'm not sure it gives them a realistic understanding of how money works.
They'll flip through catalogs and pick out toys that they want - a regular past time around these parts. And while they don't grab and beg when we go shopping, I realize now it's because they tend to get things in the mail all the time so there's really no need.
So while I won't be changing jobs any time soon, I am instituting a few new rules, and enforcing some that I created awhile back but haven't stuck to:
1. For every new toy that comes our way, we donate one to the "kids in need box." I'll have them take it to the local donation center or women's shelter with me.
2. The mail person does not just bring us gifts every day. They need to be earned as well - good behavior at school and chores completed at home.
3. Anything they want outside of their needs and special holidays will need to be purchased by them. Money is earned by completing a series of daily chores - including bed making, table setting, general clean up, and anything else we deem as their contribution to the household.
I know my kids are young, but if I don't start now, I'm going to be left with a couple of teenagers who think that a car is going to be miraculously delivered to our doorstep.
Ironic? Maybe. I'm writing this post to help spread the word about a Parent Bloggers Network Blog Blast. I'm not eligible to win the Kindle (yes, a KINDLE!) that we're giving away, but you are. We're working with Capital One (@teachingmoney on twitter) to help them facilitate conversations about teaching your kids about money. Regardless of what the economy is or isn't doing, I certainly believe this is a timely topic.
If you'd like to participate (and share your own tips on and experiences with teaching your kids about money), visit the Parent Bloggers Network blog for more details.