I love my kids! I’m sure you love your kids or other littles in your life just as much. Today’s advice is to love on them with love and with experiences–not with things.
Television commercials have made it far too easy for kids to scream “I want that” to every single commercial. Even though they don’t even know what THAT is, retailers have gotten remarkably good at using commercials to make kids think they have to have something. And they don’t.
My kids (who are adults with children of their own) STILL look for Santa’s footprints when they come over at Christmas. It was a tradition started when the kids were really little that Santa made magic footprints that didn’t melt from the fireplace to the tree. They always looked for that first before checking out what was under the tree. That is an experience.
Each year for their birthday, I would take the day off work and take them out of school (if they were doing well) to spend the day with them doing whatever they wanted to do. My son’s birthday happened to be during Spring Training season here in Arizona, so he always wanted to go watch his precious Cubbies who played in our city. So we would go to a Spring Training baseball game. My daughter usually wanted to go shopping (on a budget) or get mani/pedis. It is easy to do and costs as much as you want to spend, but it makes a huge difference in kids’ lives. That is an experience.
I do the same thing with my grandchildren who live in Arizona, although they are relegated to weekends — both because that’s when my son has them and it’s easier for me. We usually end up at Dave & Buster’s for lunch and games, then shopping for one school outfit, and lunch. With seven grandchildren and six of them having birthdays between June 5 and September 20, it can be expensive, but it’s definitely some of the best money I could spend. They know when their birthday is near and start asking when “NAME OF GRANDCHILD day” is. That is an experience.
Every year around Christmas, I spend time with as many of my seven grandchildren as are in town and available and we make Christmas cookies. My oldest granddaughter is 16 and we’ve been doing it every year since she was maybe 4. They ask every year when “cookie day” is. We couldn’t get schedules together this past year, and we all missed it so we will make extra effort to make sure we hold “cookie day” this year. I let them look at Christmas cookie recipes (usually with pictures) and they choose what they like best. We make 2-3 different kinds, but they love decorating sugar cookies so most of our effort goes there. We have in the past couple of years made the melting snowman cookies which they loved. That is an experience.
I started taking the grandchildren to Disneyland for their 13th birthday. I’m lucky that my kids spaced their children well so that they are all a year apart (for the first 5 years) and the same sex in sets, so the two oldest girls and my daughter have gone, the next two boys and my son went last year, and the next two girls are already making plans for next year’s Disneyland trip. None of them has ever been before, so I have the honor of sharing their very first Disney experience with them. I’m blessed that I can do it and that I can give that experience to them.
Children will very rarely remember what gift you gave them for their 5th birthday, but they will certainly remember if you gave them an experience for that same birthday. It is important to do that. It proves to them that they are important to us–more important than our jobs, our friends, etc.–which is how every child should feel. It is one day out of 365 that is all theirs–no one else’s, just theirs.
I’ve taken grandchildren to Broadway in Arizona productions, Yo Gabba Gabba concerts, plays, ballets, and even to see Justin Bieber (thank goodness for earplugs!).
Try it. I guarantee that it won’t make a difference in just the child’s life but it will make a huge difference in yours. And be warned! It is highly addicting and you will want to make sure to clear your calendar to participate every year. And it is oh so worth it!