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10 Things I Regret Buying My Kids

Photograph by Twenty20

There's nothing like preparing for the arrival of your first child: the excitement, the anticipation, the hysterical buying of so many incredibly unreasonable and impractical things. I remember becoming obsessed with finding the perfect stroller, and then driving 50 miles in the rain to get it because the store closest to us didn't have the fabric pattern that I wanted.

You'll be shocked to hear my baby didn't notice the subtle blue plaid I'd driven 90 minutes to buy, nor did she ever comment on the fine construction of the stroller. I do remember going on an outing with a friend who had just given birth to her second kid, and watched as she grabbed a lightweight stroller out of her backseat and deftly opened it with one hand. "Target clearance!" she quipped, as she rolled up to the coffee shop door. I would take another 20 minutes just to unfold my behemoth stroller. But man, did that plaid bring out the green in my baby's eyes!

That was 20 years ago and I've gotten over the regret of that purchase, but time and wisdom have showed me that I've wasted my money on a few other things, too:

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1. Baby clothes that don't stretch

I succumbed to the charms of a cute seersucker dress from the fancy store in the mall, not realizing it would take me two hours of hard labor and sweat just to get it over my baby's head. Even more fun was realizing that a pretty piece of lace was cutting off the circulation in her chubby little hand.

2. An "artsy" crib mobile

Grandma stole the show by waltzing in with a Disney Princess thingamajig that spun, lit up and blew fairy dust.

We were so proud of ourselves, buying that gorgeous mobile handmade by nuns in Tuscany at the craft fair, but then grandma stole the show by waltzing in with a Disney Princess thingamajig that spun, lit up and blew fairy dust.

3. Any sort of educational video series that you have fond memories of

Note to self: Just because you remember being captivated by a National Geographic series about the mating rituals of the snowy egret doesn't mean your kid will be.

4. A huge stuffed animal

We didn't buy one of these ourselves, it was a gift. So don't worry—at some point someone will buy your kid a life-sized stuffed gorilla because they think it's hi-larious.

5. Artisan toddler toys

I still remember those intense three hours, standing in the aisle of the toy store trying to figure out which wooden kitchen set from Sweden would please my little 2-year-old chef. But it didn't matter, since she opened the box, tossed it aside and spent the rest of Christmas day playing with an empty bottle and a pile of plastic hangers.

6. A playhouse

There are actually only two or three playhouses in existence, and they are just getting passed around very quickly.

I'm not saying your kid shouldn't have a playhouse, because they will love it—for around two weeks. Just wait for someone to give you one, after their kid gets tired of it after two weeks. In fact, I suspect that there are actually only two or three playhouses in existence, and they are just getting passed around very quickly.

7. Clothes that need to be hand-washed for any kid, at any age

A few years ago I taught my teen how to hand-wash one of her fancy sweaters, but after that it sat in the laundry bin forever. I think it's still in there, and I plan to give it to my future granddaughter someday just to torture her mother.

8. Expensive shoes for your tween

Instead of buying new shoes, take a couple of $20 bills and tie them around your tween's feet. They'll only last a couple of days, which pretty much the same amount of time for your tween to outgrow those $40 dollar sneakers.

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9. A toy version of any of your electronics that they covet, like cell phone, laptop, etc.

I thought it was a genius idea to buy my kids plastic versions of my cellphone and laptop that they coveted. That lasted for around 10 minutes until they figured out the ruse. I think I might have even heard them whispering, "Does she think we're stupid? You distract her while I grab the Macbook."

10. Fancy jeans

I remember buying my daughter some stylish denim with ridiculous beading on the back pockets, and I swear I I told her to "avoid sitting down" while she had them on. I bet I drove 50 miles to buy those, too.

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