This photograph of a child’s life jacket that I bought three years ago says so much. When Alison was just old enough to fit into it, I purchased this from Amazon. I distinctly remember why and it seemed so logical at the time: I wanted to be able to do fun things like kayaking on a random summer morning and I didn’t want to have any excuses not to now that we had a child. I also wanted Alison to be an adventurer, and to understand from a very young age how much fun spending time outside really was. This life jacket would help me do that.
I’d actually thought about the purchase for a long time (much longer than the recommended 30 days) and waited until Alison was big enough to use a regular child-size life jacket (so that she could use it for a long time). I did everything right — except realize that we never actually needed a life jacket of our own.
No one we know owns a boat that would necessitate us bringing our own life jacket. Though I’ve always wanted to own a pair of kayaks, we didn’t have firm plans to do so at the time and we still don’t own any. Additionally, any place where you’ll rent a boat, canoe, kayak, or anything else will also rent you the life jacket.
Since we bought this life jacket three years ago, I’m happy to say that we’ve taken Alison on many a boat ride. She’s been paddle boating in the tidal basin and on our local Lake Accotink.
She’s been on car and passenger ferries and she’s kayaked across Biscayne Bay with a thunderstorm at our backs, next to stingrays and mangroves. She’s also hiked to the highest point in Shenandoah National Park and withstood a 15-mile bike ride to see baby alligators in the Everglades. She loves the outdoors and she begs each weekend to climb rocks and fallen tree branches across the creek in our backyard. In short, she’s growing up exactly the way I wanted her to and, as you can see from the attached tags, we have never once needed this life jacket.
So, the next time I buy something for myself or my kids, I’ll remember the one shopping test that really matters: do I really need to own this?
Check out this link for ideas on how to share instead of own.