While we’ve been staying next door to the local corner store, our girls have started shopping independently. The Bush Fairy Dairy is a great, safe venue for our children to practice with money, make independent purchasing decisions and walk there and back by themselves.

Shopping at the Bush Fairy Dairy, April 2012
Our girls select and announce their lollipop colour choices to Tracey.

Shopping at the Bush Fairy Dairy, April 2012
Brioni looks through her purse for the right money.

Shopping at the Bush Fairy Dairy, April 2012
These Kiwi coins are different to Australian ones, and so Brioni reads the numbers to work out if this silver piece is the 20 cents that she needs.

We’re so thankful for the special, gentle staff who work at the Bush Fairy Dairy. They’ve been patient with our girls and have taught money-identification, basic math skills and shopping procedures. Our girls have been learning the shopkeepers’ names and that other, “official”, adults are friendly sources of help in new situations.

Rather than doling out small amounts of money, we have been giving our children as much money as they want, whenever they want it. In filling their wallets, we’re modelling the economic basics that we would like them to master.

As we’ve opened our purses and let our children spend money freely on lollies, chips and ice creams, we’ve let them learn which items taste good, which foods they react poorly to, and which things offer value. In releasing our children to make decisions with money, we’re set free from forcing our own desires upon them and have given our girls the opportunity to learn these life skills independently.

We want our children to know that money is for sharing, not for hoarding. It is to be spent in enjoying life. Money is something that doesn’t have to come with horrible, hard work but rather can be gained in pleasure. We encourage cooperative shopping, sharing and respect for individual preferences.

In practice, the girls haven’t bought too many sweets and haven’t spent too much money. There was one day when three little bags of lollies were shared among the four girls. One daughter reacted poorly to that amount of sugar (and food colouring, probably), but the next day she clearly acknowledged that perhaps she had indulged in too many lollies and would have a break from them. In letting her pursue that experience, she learned a lesson about her own body and set her own limits. It’s liberating to have a child become aware of their body’s needs without forcing limitations upon them!

Later, as the girls were enjoying their lollipops, I found Calista sharing hers nicely — one lick for her, one lick for Elijah.

Calista sharing a lollipop with Elijah, April 2012
Calista generously shares her lollipop with her little brother. (Nope, we haven't formally introduced solids yet... except Calista has also given Elijah peanut butter and muesli!)

Calista smiling with Elijah, April 2012
She's happy to share!

These moments are precious. I treasure them.