In Ask Sherry, Life, Parenting

Ask Sherry: Where list out how many clothes I own

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Do you own a lot of clothes?

Oh honey, have we met!? ๐Ÿ™‚

I own a TON of clothes. This is what I own, and this is how much it all costs, according to my StyleBook app.

543 items for a total closet value of $61,854.11*

*Note: If we want to talk about actual retail value of some of these pieces, it would maybe be 35% more because a lot of my designer (truly high-end) designer stuff has been secondhand, so for instance my YSL dress cost me around $100 but retailed at $4000+. That kind of thing.

http://www.shopstyle.com/collective/saverspender

In each category I (currently) own:

  • 73 Tops
  • 34 Skirts
  • 19 Pants
  • 44 Dresses
  • 39 Outerwear
  • 49 General Accessories
  • 91 Necklaces
  • 40 Rings
  • 26 Belts
  • 52 Bags
  • 37 Scarves
  • 37 Shoes
  • 2 Bathing Suits

Not included: Underthings

So do I own a lot? Yes.

Am I actively cutting down on what I own? Somewhat.


What I need is a day of solace at home where I can go into my closet, go through each piece one by one and LEISURELY try it on and decide, without a child pawing at me or squealing in my sanctum sanctorum (closet).

I am however, slowly cutting down on pieces here and there as I see fit. It isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great and it is taking a long time.

I’m thinking of moving to Montreal and trying to budget for life there.

Cool! ๐Ÿ™‚ Welcome!

I noticed Baby Bun is now in pre-school. Why did you decide to go private? Should I budget for private or are the public centres a viable option?

So I’ve always gone for private because there were never any public spots.

Recently, I went to ONE public daycare and frankly was horrified. It was dirty, small rooms, and not at all like a private daycare. I wondered if they were all like this, and asked around.

Other parents recounted similar experiences of not at all being impressed with public services. I mean, it kind of makes sense.

You pay $7.75 ย a day for your child, let’s say subsidized up to $20/day by the government when a private one charges $40 a day for “basic” services. How can they budge for enough staff to clean, maintain, organize and buy things for the children? There just isn’t enough money to pay for all of this, which is why the floors I saw the babies crawling on hadn’t been washed in at least 3 years, minimum but in private daycares they change the mats daily, they are constantly mopping…. they have the money to pay for staff.

Bottom line is this: If you have the money and can afford it without putting your family budget out of whack, go for private.

If you cannot afford it, go for public.

There is equally no shame in your saving & frugal game. They aren’t horrible there, but once you’ve gone private with their webcams, their fancy foods, their fancy cubbies and activities like TODDLER YOGA (OMG), you will find it hard to go back.

There are quite a lot of spots open ever since they changed the rules and it now doesn’t matter what daycare you go to — you will still pay the same at the end (or so they say), but the public one will ALWAYS be cheaper in the long run.

My question will be longer, but I hope to hear your opinion.

Sure, shoot!

What do you think about the following situation? Because of certain circumstances, some people move to foreign countries and raise their children with the foreign language since a very young age. (Some kids become bilingual since they start speaking because they go to kindergarten in the foreign language and, in parallel, speak the family’s language at home.)

Yes! This is our case.

This is also my family’s case and I am anxious about this situation; here is why:

We, the parents, don’t speak the foreign language (yet). So far we have got by with English only (which is also a foreign language to us).

Which by the way, might I remark is very good from what I am reading.

I would like to understand what the children will speak and write, but I’m afraid I’ll never reach an advanced or fluent level in that new language.

Which is not a problem unless you need to work.

If that is the case, will it be a problem for my relationship with the children as far as communication is concerned?

No. NOT AT ALL. Oh my goodness, how much do I want to emphasize this?

NO!

Your children will NOT think worse of you, or whatever you are imagining.

Just be sure to stay firm and tell them: This is our culture, this is our language, it is important to me that we speak in this language (and pretend not to know other languages, soon it will be natural to speak in that language when you’re all together).

If they know it matters to you, and you mean it, they will learn it and take great pride in it, as a friend of mine has recounted. She and her sisters take great pride in having learned their family language amidst not having had to.

They will accept whatever mother tongue you have been talking to with them, and as they get older and may have to meet foreign language requirements or find jobs, or learn more languages, they will be grateful you gave them that extra language (no matter how obscure, trust me).

Any language a child learns, quote on quote “useful” or not, is a stepping stone to learning and grasping so much more.

There’s plenty of research out there that says the more languages they learn, the easier it is for them to learn even more as they now have another language to reference to help them find the word. They read faster, think quicker and overall it helps their education.

In my opinion, language plays an important part in a person’s life. A person will think in a main language, not in several languages at the same time.

That is true, but even in my main language now, I have a richer sense of each word because I also have French to back me. There are some things you cannot say in English that you can in French and vice versa.

There usually is a main, native language in which people find the most mental comfort when speaking (or am I wrong? I don’t know.).

No you’re completely right.

Whatever kids grow up with or learn in school or with friends, is going to feel the most natural and be the most native language. Period. But that doesn’t mean it is a silly idea to try and preserve a native language at home because it seems futile.

I am all for as many languages as possible.

I’m afraid that, because children spend the most time at school, the foreign language will be their main language, and not our family language.

Yes, this will become the case. 100%.

Will they get to understand all the nuances of our family language in the time we have with them after school and after our work day?

Yes. They will.

You need to be firm in this, and stick to speaking ONLY that language 100% of the time with them, no exceptions, no replies back in any other foreign language, and to pretend that you have no idea what they are saying when they try to use English or French on you.

I know another mother who speaks only Brazilian to her daughter and her child HATES IT when she speaks in French or English. This may be just an exceptional situation but it happens.

Again, will this impact somehow our relationships? I want us to be able to have a good communication.

No. They’ll have a special bond with you, in your native language and their first mother tongue. You are speaking it, they’ll understand you.. there won’t be a problem.

What will be their native language?…

Their native language will be what they speak to you (I don’t know how old your kids are, but before the age of 6 they are SPONGES and can learn as many languages as you want to teach them), but as they get older, they will feel more fluent and comfortable in their friends / school / work language than in their native one, if they don’t have a lot of exposure to the native language.

What I am saying basically boils down to: The more time and more chances they have to use and speak that language with people in your community, with your family, your friends, and all in THAT native language, the more it will become theirs as well.

I know plenty of people here who are perfectly, truly bilingual and I am envious.


They flip from French to English without an issue, having had one French parent and one English one (like Baby Bun is with us). Of course, right now as I am his mother, English is a very strong language for him and preschool is all in English, but once he hits French elementary and will go to French school with French-speaking kids, he will have no chance but to learn the language which will over time become as equally as native as English to him, and has the advantages of perfect English & French then.

This is something we have seen play out over and over again with other friends’ & family member’s kids, and we have the added fortunate experience of cousins who have grown up with and without their native language, and to see the effects of what each family has done and what worked.

What do you think is the best time to introduce a second language to a child? Since she starts speaking or at a later age (3,4,5)?

Immediately.

From when they’re born to now. I mean, if you’re speaking your language and interacting with them now, they’re learning it. Every. Thing. Is. Absorbed.

Once they hit the age of 6, it’s over as a language teacher told me.

Their brain shuts off somewhere and becomes less malleable and it becomes harder to learn a new language than before 6.

Not impossible, as it is still easy for kids as they are in school and speak it constantly with friends & outsiders, and can pick it up in 3 months or less, but before the age of 6, they have to be exposed pretty early.

They’re blobs for sure, but they’re absorbent blobs. Anything you say or do to them they will remember and retain.

What language would be better for the children to speak at home? Should I make an effort to speak in the foreign language or only speak in my native language, or in both?

Your native language only. 100%, no exceptions. Do not flip.

Eliminate the foreign language, and let me tell you why — English is ridiculously easy to learn.

All good TV, music and pop culture is in English. If they want to watch #GameofThrones, they’ll need English for now, or any other pop culture reference.

ENGLISH IS EASY TO LEARN.

Anyone living in North America WILL learn English to a very good working if not fluent proficiency unless they actively decide not to (yes it happens in Quebec).

Every parent at the park with older kids tells me this. French parents seek me out specifically because Baby Bun speaks English. We are hot commodities.

Two Spaniards I know, speak only Spanish to their daughter but also speak French & English very well. They sent her to daycare which was all English, and when she came home, by the time 3 months rolled around, she refused to speak to them in Spanish any more because she felt English (her main language at preschool) was easier.

Her parents made the grave mistake of giving in and replying in English not Spanish.

The mother recounted to me that the day she startedย responding back in English instead of Spanish and instead of saying that she did not know what her daughter was saying, was the day her daughter lost the language.

Sure, she has some of the accent left and knows some words, but she will never speak it as perfectly as her cousins whose parents have been MILITANT on not speaking any other language to them but Spanish.

Her mother said now it is a struggle to get back to Spanish in the household, as children are smart, sneaky little creatures and she realized that her parents spoke English so… why the heck was she speaking another language to them?

I took that lesson to heart when I had Baby Bun, and I have to constantly remind my partner to STICK TO THE LANGUAGE and to not switch to English with him. Now, Baby Bun looks at his father, speaks in one tongue, then flips to me and switches to another. He is still mostly English but that’s because I’m super chatty and my partner is not, so he learned the literal “mother tongue” of English strongly (plus preschool = Anglophone).

We have to be militant. And so far it is working, I keep reminding him: Daddy doesn’t speak English, he doesn’t know what you’re saying.

It works on them when they’re young. By the time they’re old enough to realize what is going on, just pretend you don’t like speaking it as much as your native tongue or understanding it, and they’ll fall in line ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lots of other parents said this too — they pretend they don’t like English or French and continue in Farsi, Mandarin, etc.

The ones who then try to speak English to their kids when it isn’t their native language, always almost end up telling me they regretted doing it.

FRENCH IS HARDER TO PICK UP WRITING / GRAMMAR / SPEAKING-WISE

I do not know what language you speak but I found French so hardย to learn with its conjugations, its verbs, the “le” and “la”.. that stuff I am still struggling with and I have to now memorize a whole language that has feminine and masculine genders assigned to them.

French, if they learn it here, will be their native language of the country because of their friends and the schooling system being all in French, so they’ll know that as well. This is why we decided to make sure Baby Bun got a base in French and French ONLY, no exceptions of English, and to make FRENCH friends. It’s not like I will slowly weed out his friends if they’re Anglophone and not Francophone but ….. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All I can say is friends are where you learn the language.

PREFERRING ONE OVER ANOTHER

Where you may see the glitch is that if they prefer one language over another, you’ll end up with kids who know both languages, but tend to gravitate towards friends and communities that only speak that language, which weakens their other language.

This is something I’ve noticed in myself as well. It is a relief sometimes at work to find another Anglophone and to go back and forth in English to give my brain a break. I don’t necessarily seek out English friends, but we do tend to bond quicker than with French folks with whom I have no referential culture with (yet) nor memories to which we can build upon.

That said, I actively flip to French and refuse to let myself speak English with Francophones. I am here to learn and to be fluent in the language and to learn it as perfectly as possible like a native.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

The only way to learn it is to practice.

The more I practice it, the more natural it becomes even in the most banal of situations. There are times now where I find myself flipping to French instead of English with my partner because that’s the language I think in for a good part of my waking hours at work.

I also want to learn it properly, so I have to write it correctly and find myself Googling A LOT. Other Francophones want to learn English with me by trying it out on me, but I just reply back in French. LOL Good luck to them ๐Ÿ˜›

It is a very weird conversation where a Francophone speaks in English to me, I reply as an Anglophone back in French, and we have this strange, one-sided bilingual conversation.

It was very strange thing to hear as an outsider who had no idea what people were saying save for a few words, but now that I’m an insider, it is the coolest thing EVER. I love it.

It’s the only thing that has kept me going at work, it is a real asset for finding jobs which is what I need.

Where there is a will, there’s a way.

Last, I’m not sure I’ll be able to retire in this country because of the living costs.

It depends. Where do you want to live? In rural areas it is cheap and you can live off the government programs, but if you want a normal life, you may need to leave Toronto or Vancouver, but Montreal is still pretty affordable in my opinion.

So, it is very likely that, in the future, I will not live in the same country as my children.

Which makes sense. A lot of people go back to their “home”.

I know that, especially in this modern and mobile society, lots of extended family members live apart from each other. However, it’s the likelihood of this that makes me even sadder. I am not an overbearing parent, but it would have been nice to at least feel that I live in the same country as my children. Should I worry about that?

Yes. I am not sugar coating this, because I worry about that even now actually and he’s only 3.

I am in the same country as my own family but they are 8 hours away. That doesn’t mean they see us often, so we Skype.

I also feel very sad that Baby Bun is not close to his cousins in Europe, and if we lived there, we’d see each other every 3 months or more, for sure.

It is a problem I am currently facing as a parent and the only way we have found to “fix” it is to:

A) Go back yearly for 3 weeks – we are even thinking of spending a whole year there and sending him to a native French school.

B) Skype often with family members so we don’t feel so removed. We are still in touch often.

I also don’t know if I will stay here, where Baby Bun will live, if we will go back to France and live there… this is all up in the air, but the plan is to basically try and be in the same city as Baby Bun at least. I can only hope (but NOT PUSH) that he lives in Montreal.

Thank you.

You’re welcome. Shoot me more questions if you want. I don’t have all the answers, but I am happy to help and would be pleased to share more experiences.

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question using the form hereย and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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4 Comments

  1. The Luxe Strategist

    I think it’s so great you’re prioritizing multiple languages when it comes to your baby. I have several friends with foreign parents that wish the parents made them speak the other language when they were little. Now they are all grown up and can only speak English.

    And I love how you documented all the things you own! This is something I’d like to do myself one day so maybe I need to get on that app! Except for me, it would be like, Dresses = 3 ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Everyone says that. EVERYONE! I need to make sure Baby Bun never feels like that.

      Hey, it would be so much easier to organize everything if you had less ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Reply
  2. Krystina

    My parents immigrated to Canada in the 1950s and spoke a language that bears no resemblance to English. I was the eldest child so my first language was their mother tongue. When I entered kindergarten I knew a bit of English (as did my parents) but not enough to properly communicate in the school’s eyes. I misbehaved because I was bored and frustrated. I was told I would need to have a better handle on English to remain in school for the year. My parents made a decision that we would speak only English at home so I would not be held back in school. This caused me to lose my facility with my first language. It is still in my brain and I intend to revive it. My younger sister, unfortunately, does not know this language at all! I am so glad that schools have changed from those days and ironically yours truly, who could not speak English properly, has a BA in English (with a minor in French).

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I’m glad attitudes have changed towards that, although I must say I meet with ESL elementary teachers on occasion and I ask them about this exact situation. They say they actually struggle with this with the “regular” teachers because they keep telling them: After 3 months, they are fine. They may be a bit slow here and there on the vocabulary, but they WILL pick it up if you keep trying with them.

      The teachers get frustrated and it makes the child sad / feel ashamed.. it is a terrible cycle sometimes. So I can understand parents/teachers wanting to solve the issue, but honestly, sticking to another tongue is such a benefit I cannot stress more than enough that you should guard your native tongue.

      We are currently having a big kerfuffle here in Quebec with people wanting to be MORE strident on French language laws, and as an Anglophone, I honestly do not care if they push harder on French than English, as it only benefits me and my child in the long run. He will be perfect in all the languages and I only see the good in it for me, but can see the bad in it for Anglo-only folks or Francophones who want to learn English.

      Reply

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