Friday, April 15, 2011

Rephrasing My Words

I'm THAT Mom. 

You know.... the ONE. 

You know, the one who says, "No".  Driving home my daughter begs and pleads," Mom can we go to McDonalds for dinner?  PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE?"  Knowing full well that we have plenty of food to make at home, I indicated that we wouldn't be eating at McDonalds for dinner.  "Why not!?!?" she proceeds to ask. 

Up until about the past few months my response to her question would be, "Because we can't afford it."  As a result she would drop the subject.  We would go home, make dinner, eat and go on with our evening.  I, immediately thinking she was perfectly satisfied and happy with eating the dinner we just made, think nothing of the earlier conversation. 

A couple weeks later we are running errands and paying bills.  Juggling from this bank and that place to pay this bill and that one.  Grocery shopping at Sams Club to get these deals and going to another store for this other deal.  After we are finished running all our errands, I am ready to go home.  My daughter asks if we are finished, and I told her we were done.  As we are driving home, she sees McDonalds and asks if we can eat there. 

I am going to be honest and say that I really don't care for  McDonalds very much.  Personally, after eating there, I end up much hungrier.  Even eating off the dollar menu, it tends to get pricey.  The portions seem to be shrinking.  And it isn't just me.  If I feed my kids a double cheeseburger from there, they are ALWAYS hungry within a short period of time. 

I tell my daughter that we can't afford McDonalds, thinking this an easy answer to get out of having to go there.  She immediately quetions me with why we can't afford it.  She informs me that she knows I have money in my purse and since we are finished paying the bills and doing grocery shopping, we have some money so we CAN afford it.  I was dumbfounded. 

Yes, daughter there is money in my purse left over, but not much.  With that money I have to buy gas during the week and anything else that comes up.  There were a number of things I wanted to say in response.  I completely understood her asking.  She had been wanting McDonalds for a little while now.  I could easily take her and my son there.  Come on, what kind of mother am I?  In response to myself, I reply, "The frugal, loving one."

So I told her what I needed to say, "Bug, I am sorry.  I can afford to take you guys to McDonalds, but it is less expensive to cook at home.  It is also healthier."  I went on and on and somehow we got on the topic of Olive Garden and how overly expensive it is to dine at Olive Garden.  In comparison I can make us Chicken Alfredo for MUCH cheaper and we like it better than the restaurant's version.  I expected her to argue or say something shocking, but she didn't.  She looked like she was thinking really hard. 

"How much does it cost at Olive Garden for the three of us to eat?"

I explained that just for me it was about $15 plus the two kids meals being about $5-$6 each.  I also explained the concept of tax and tips.  I informed her it would be over $30.  She looked like she was in total shock.  

I explained how much it costs for us to make it at home and how much I make at a time, so we can have leftovers for one more night of dinner, plus me bringing that to lunch for a couple or so days.  "And" I explained, "It is much cheaper than Olive Garden still plus we like mine better."  She had a big grin on her face. 

In the midst of talking about McDonalds, Olive Garden and money, I learned a lesson.  I learned to watch my words and focus on the meaning of what I say.  "We can't afford it" or "I don't have money"simply isn't acceptable.  We can afford it, I just choose to not spend it on that.  I now say, " I don't want to spend my money on that."  In effect, my daughter completely accepts and understands that. 

Yes, I do treat them every once in a while but I try to explain to them the cost so they understand.  The other night my son was asking to go to Olive Garden since he had seen a commercial on the tv.  My daughter instantly intercepted and informed him how we can make it at home for much cheaper and get lots more food.  Wow, she actually listens.  :)


  1. wow! this is a great post and very informative! My kids are only 2.5 yrs and 9 months right now but when they are older this is something to keep in mind when answering their questions - the specifics of why I do things the way I do for us. :) GREAT INFO!

    PS... terro is ant poison. It's pretty dangerous and has to be kept away from children! whew!

  2. Thanks MageeBaby. It has definitely worked for my children. :) I have realized how I need to really think before speaking because they are like sponges. It sinks in. Thanks for the response on the terro as well.