What the American Girl doll store taught my daughters

November 19, 2014/Ainsley


1.  It’s still fun to be a little girl

In this age where the world tries to oversexualize and mature our girls at a rate faster than this mommy likes, I loved seeing my girls having a TON of fun just being a little girl with their dolls. They weren’t made to feel like a baby for still wanting to play with dolls and not with iPhones. It’s not quite like Disney World in the department of magic and make believe, but it’s pretty darn close.


They were so excited to eat with their dolls and even gave them little bits of the food from their lunches for their plates.



2. Prioritizing is a skill 

We’ve been talking about visiting the American Girl doll store for quite some time. I told the girls I’d pay for lunch and they’d have to pay for any other purchases. When Natalie asked if she could get her doll’s hair done in addition to her purchases, I told her I’d be happy to bring her back if she saved up more money. Some people might find this mean. I find it teaches many life skills like being able to delay gratification, set goals, prioritize purchases, value money,  and the art of gratefulness.


The girls had to really think about what they wanted to buy within their budget. They walked through the store a good three or four times. They went back and forth over if they wanted to combine their money to purchase a larger accessory set or not. They made a list of items they were interested in. From those lists, they paired it down until they chose what they really wanted. After realizing they were prioritizing different interests, they decided to keep their money separate. Each had remaining money which they quickly used on small items (glasses and nail “polish” stickers). We’ll work on the life lesson of walking away from a shopping trip with money still in your pocket next time!


3. It’s difficult to see others get more than you, and that’s ok.

Ainsley had a particularly hard time watching family after family check out with their arms laden down with purchases. Many of the shoppers were there for their birthdays and I overheard some people who were shopping for groups of friends or for Christmas. It’s hard walking to the register with two little boxes when you feel like everyone else is buying one of everything in the store. You start to feel like you’re missing out.

What a great lesson for our kids to learn early – – keeping up with Joneses can’t be our focus. It steals the joy of our day and our hard work. I’m proud to say that Ainsley did NOT throw a fit or have a melt down, and not too proud to say she’s a normal kid when it comes to envy. There were a few tears of frustration when she couldn’t afford her top 3 choices, but it only lasted a few quiet minutes. We talked about how when you have so many great options before you, it’s hard to be grateful for the things you are able to have (or already have!). How comparing our lives to others only makes us miss out on the great stuff we have going on.


4. It feels good to earn what you get

The girls saved up for this trip over the last few months. They took mommy’s helper jobs and odd jobs with the neighbors to grow their cash piles. It was difficult for them to limit their purchases to the size of their paycheck, but I know in the end, they were proud of themselves. Every time they play with these items, they will get a surge of confidence knowing they worked hard and it paid off.


 5. Life is as much about the journey as the destination 



Because the AG store is 3 hours away, we spent a lot time coming and going in addition to the time we spent eating and shopping. I had so much fun listening to the girls play with their dolls on the drive to Columbus. They made head bands and rings for their dolls with their rainbow looms, they made up stories and complex schemes about their pretend world. They leaned over the seat and made their baby sister giggle with delight.

On the way home they talked about all they had seen and done in the last few hours. We talked about maybe coming back if we had the chance and how fun it would be. They made plans about how they could work hard to be able to make more purchases.

Sometimes we get so focused on where we want to be that we forget to enjoy the time it takes to get there. I’m hoping my girls learned, if we let it, the fun can start long before we reach the destination.

Comments (4)

  • Lisa / November 19, 2014 / Reply

    What a super great lesson. A AG store just opened in Orlando and THOUSANDS of little girls showed up for the Grand Opening… I think daddy would faint at the thought of taking the girls..This mommy has May in mind (close to both their birthdays and both the ages where I know they will take better care of their dolls and items.

    Wow Miss A has YOUR profile..Thank you ofr sharing

  • Linda / November 19, 2014 / Reply

    Leighann…this was awesome! I am so glad to hear about all of the things the girls learned from their trip to the American Girl store. You are an amazing Mom!
    Linda H.

  • Lizz / December 1, 2014 / Reply

    My daughter is 14 and still LOVES her dolls. She has a friend who got an AG doll one year and so my daughter wanted one too. There is NO way we can afford to spend that kind of money on a toy. Especially since even though she loves her dolls she only plays with them every now and then. We found a similar doll at Target. The Our Generation doll actually looks exactly like an AG doll. My daughter was beyond thrilled getting her doll and she loves to go shopping for Lilly. Target’s line is growing all the time and I love the fact that she never asks me to buy any of it for her. She instead asks when she can go work for Grandma again so she can make money to buy what she wants. Now I know she is a teen now but she has been doing this for many years. I started my kids off young teaching them about money and working for what they want. I’m so glad to see that you are teaching your kids to earn what they want. I know your girls will appreciate their purchases so much more knowing they earned the money to buy them. And they got an incredible trip with mommy as an added bonus! Y’all will remember those times for years! 🙂

  • Heidi / December 8, 2014 / Reply

    Wonderful lessons and sounds like a fun day!

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