Parents Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Cutting Their Holiday Tipping Checklist

moneyEvery year, around mid-December, my husband and I sit down to make a list of the people we need to tip or buy gifts for during the holiday season. Every year the list grows longer. And since we've had kids? Well, honestly, it's gotten a bit crazy. There are teachers and teachers' aides, babysitters and school bus drivers, and the people who cut our children's hair (in addition to the people who cut our own). There's the woman who cleans our house twice a month -- a luxury, yes, but also a concession to the fact that as working parents, we simply couldn't keep up with the mess made by two children and still expect to spend any quality time with them.

And that's not to mention the mail carrier and the garbage collectors and the newspaper-delivery guy and all the other workers who frequently populate holiday-tipping checklists. Is it me, or can the holidays just about bankrupt a well-meaning family?

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I like to think I'm generally a pretty generous tipper -- "No one ever got rich cheating someone out of a tip," someone once wisely said to me -- but I have to admit, this time of year always fills me with a brutal sense of financial doom. An extra week of pay here, an extra $30 there, on top of holiday shopping ... it adds up so quickly.

Like a lot of parents, I'd guess, we've had to prioritize. Anyone who takes care of our kids (teachers, sitters, aides)? They get tipped generously. Our life simply wouldn't function without them, and all the extra kindnesses they show our children ... well, we'd give these people the world, if we could. We can hardly do enough to show them our appreciation.

The cleaning lady and the haircutters, they'll definitely get a tip, too. That simply feels like an obligation. I'll probably tip the newspaper delivery people, too, mostly because I'm sure they can't have too many customers left in this digital age and I feel bad for them. But the rotating mix of postal workers who bring us our mail and the garbage men I've never even made eye contact with? I'm afraid, much as I appreciate their services, we won't be giving them cash this year. That money's going to my kids' sweet, safety-minded school bus driver instead. (And aren't government workers not supposed to accept tips, anyway?)

I might bake them cookies, though. Financial hardships aside, one of the benefits of being a parent this time a year is having extra baking help in the kitchen. But wait ... do I have to tip them?

Have your holiday tipping priorities changed since you've become a parent?

 

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