That Time I Took My 3 Year Old Shopping

Her excitement is due to the fact that her “money” has a picture of Frosty on it.

My sister sent me a text that said something to the effect of, “Is there anything your girls want or need for Christmas?”

YES! They needed water bottles. I may or may not have been ultra specific in the water bottle selection, as I have cleaned up my fair share of leaks. (Contigo for the win!)

I also tagged on a rather strange request. Might my sister want to give her three year old niece a gift card for Christmas? To buy clothes?

I’ve mentioned the princess dress fiasco, but it got worse. After bringing home what I felt was a super cute princess dress for my daughter, she asked me to return it. My three year old told me she did not want to wear the dress I had carefully selected and wanted me to return it.

At this point, I felt I had two options.

Option 1: “Child, you best be grateful. I paid good money (okay, six dollars) for this dress and you are going to like it. You are going to wear it to church on Sunday and you are going to be happy about it.”

Option 2: I could realize that she has an opinion and honor it. Could this possibly be an avenue to end the battle of getting dressed in the mornings? Putting the ball in her court could potentially lessen my stress while empowering her to make decisions.

I chose option 2, and my sister, being amazing as she is, gave my daughter a $25 gift card to purchase clothes for Christmas.

So, we had some fun with it.

I counted out 25 monopoly bills and had my daughter count them with me. “This is how many dollars you can spend on clothes today. You may choose whatever you like as long as it is something warm.”

It didn’t take long for her to find two pieces that she loved. A “princess dress” (strangely similar in color and shape to the one I had previously purchased…) and a sweatshirt with a dog on it. It was a winner because the dog was wearing a crown, and therefore, a princess. These two items would total $25 exactly.

We counted her money. She knew she was at her limit. When I told her I was going to buy her some pants, she conceded by crawling underneath the clearance items and telling me her legs were tired. Well, I suppose that’s normal for a three year old.

Moments later, she came across the most extraordinary piece of clothing she had yet witnessed in her lifetime. A princess shirt. A shirt with an actual princess on it. She fell in love with it, so we reasoned through the situation.

Me: “Do you have enough money to buy this shirt?”
Her: “No.”
Me: “This shirt is less money than your other items. If you put back one of the other items, you might be able to buy three things with your money.”
Her: “Put back the dress.”

We counted her money and found that she now had an additional $6 to spend. I’m all for encouraging good spending habits, so by golly, I was going to find something she loved for $6. It took a bit of searching, but we finally landed on a shirt with a star on the front.

The loot.

I was so proud of her decision that I offered to buy her something additional, but she refused. She wanted those specific three items with her $25.

And, you know what? The next day, she jumped out of bed, ready to get dressed because she wanted to wear that princess shirt. I’d say that’s a win.

Perhaps I shouldn’t encourage such a young one to enjoy shopping or fashion, but I love that we had a fun mommy-daughter day. And (bonus!) it even included a small lesson in economics!

Maybe even the concept of counting her dollars will help her appreciate what she receives in the future…



Princess Dresses

This image was created specifically for this post by my dear friend, Brett Redgate.

Lately, when it is time to get dressed in the morning, my 3 1/2 year old insists on wearing a princess dress. I can occasionally convince her to vary her wardrobe slightly, but that usually requires that the outfit has a horse on it somewhere.

Originally, a princess dress was extremely formal and long and sparkly. A.K.A. her flower girl dress. If it wasn’t for trying to stuff the fancy dresses into a carseat buckle, I really wouldn’t mind this so much, but alas, there is no way around the stuffing.

With a little encouragement from me, my daughter has decided to allow other dresses into the princess dress category. Requirements include that it is long, no zippers, must have a skirt, and the skirt portion must be longer than the bodice portion. This is serious business.

To be quite honest, I have not been a huge fan of the princess dress phase. Beginning in pregnancy I was determined my daughter would not be obsessed with the idea of princesses. Have you ever seen a shirt with “Princess” stamped on the front in squiggly letters? I see those and think, “How terrible that we are encouraging little girls to think they can have anything they want whenever they want it! We are turning them into little brats!”

Okay, so that’s harsh, but it was a common thought to enter my head.

But I’ve changed my tune.

You see, there was the day my little 3 1/2 year old said something rather profound. In her matter of fact way, she said, “I am a princess. God is King and He made me, so I am a princess.”


You can wear all the princess dresses you want for the rest of eternity, my dear, for you speak truth.

It’s one thing to shout out that you are a princess and go around with a spirit of entitlement. It is quite another to know your identity as a child of the King, and to dress in a way that shows you are proud to be your Daddy’s daughter.

As you go throughout your day, remember who you are. Remember Whose you are. Wear your princess uniform proudly (whatever it may look like). For we, my friends, are all daughters of the King.

We are all princesses.

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (Galatians 3:26-29; NLT)