This is the first post in a series by Audrey Simmons. She will be posting every Tuesday and you can read more about her here.
I remember one year when things were financially tight for our family and I wanted to take our one-and-a-half year old twins to an event I’d heard about. I called an acquaintance for details and the information she gave me included the cost: only $10 per child. She assured me it was worth it. I thanked her and hung up, looked at my husband and said, “I guess we’re not going.”
To be honest, I wasn’t that upset about missing the event. They were so little they probably wouldn’t have remembered an experience that wasn’t super important to me anyway. It had just been an idea about something to do to fill an afternoon. What grated on me was the only. Only. Only ten dollars per child, and I had twins, and a husband in grad school. $20 was our phone bill. $20 was gas for the car to get to classes and church for the month. I know the acquaintance didn’t mean anything by it; she just had a different perspective of both finances and possibly even the value of the event. But my “only” and her “only” were very different at the time. Fifty cents would have been “only” to me. My “only” was limited at the time, but I still had an afternoon with toddlers to fill.
A few years later, browsing Instagram and noticing a published author’s post about decorating inexpensively, the same “only” bothered me. I made my mom listen to me complain: “It might be a good only for someone who used to go spend hundreds at Target on a whim, but $70 for a project isn’t only for a lot of people!” To be clear, I don’t think it’s wrong to spend money on things you care about if the money is there. But what if it isn’t? What if your “only” is the fifty cents mine was for a long time? Or five dollars? Or literally a few pennies? Maybe you’re openly struggling financially, or maybe you seem by outside appearances to be doing okay but it’s just scraping by and there isn’t much extra.
You still have kids. You still have mornings and afternoons to fill. Maybe you’ve got toddlers, maybe you’ve got older kids, maybe you’ve got older kids that act like toddlers. Maybe you’ve adopted or you want to, maybe you homeschool, maybe you’re just looking for something different to do. And that’s what Totally Broke Tuesdays are about.
What can you do for school, for at-home therapy, for play, without spending money, or without spending much of it? The “only” is going to be different for every person reading. If the “only” doesn’t fit your wallet or what you already have at home or what you have time for, then skip it or modify it. This isn’t a chance to be proud of having or not having money; this is a time to thrive in circumstances that require creativity. This is a time to make the most of your season, whatever season you’re in.
Maybe you’re okay for money but totally broke for time. Maybe your day is packed full but you don’t want to miss out on moments or afternoons to do something meaningful or connecting– then save yourself the time by having ideas already there and buying supplies to replace the prep work.
Being involved will cost something. It will cost money or time or energy. And if you don’t have the money, then don’t wallow in despair– just decide that you will pay for those times in another way! Perhaps ironically, my desire with Totally Broke Tuesday is that you find ways to stop feeling broke.
Next Tuesday, I’ll be posting an activity and some thoughts on it and why it is valuable for kids of various ages. Every Tuesday, I will post an activity that is fun or therapy-oriented or educational or all three! I hope you’re looking forward to this series as much as I am!