Even before we started our family, my husband and I spent a lot of time discussing what was important to us in raising our kids. Sure, we wanted them to feel supported and loved and sent to good schools. But the next biggest item on our list: we want them to be given experiences, not things.
The number of toys being produced and “must-have” items being touted to parents and kids alike is astounding and unnecessary. As kids get older and older, there is an absolute ton of stuff that they can collect– many of which are poorly made from plastic and can’t be played with in a variety of ways.
As we saw this, and learning from a few great examples in our lives, we made the decision to always place an experience for our children over the temporary satisfaction of a thing. Almost always, an experience can provide many growth opportunities, such as interacting with peers, developing self-confidence, loads of fun, an ever-lasting memory, and a development of a new skill. In comparison, a new-toy is rarely played with after its initial introduction and only has one primary way to be used.
When the kids are young, we ask family members who so desperately want to give a gift, for these type of gifts: certificates to museums, park district programs, craft centers, swim lessons, dance class, rock climbing certificates and the like. For approximately the same cost, in my opinion, the children receive an infinitely bigger gift when it is an experience based item. Coupled with the classes and experiences we give our children, they have a very rich life!
Shannon, over at The Heavy Purse, wrote about talking to your children about debt. In our house, and with our children being so very young, we don’t mention our debt so much as we mention this family rule:
Everything in life is about the choices you make. When you make one choice it may affect another choice. Frequently, when the kids are begging for a new toy or a treat, we discuss it and what experiences we are planning for. Then we present it as a choice. They almost always choose an experience based treat.
For example: The kids want to walk to get ice cream in the town we live in. This Saturday we are heading to the zoo, where I know they will want to ride the carousel. They have a choice to make- ice cream or carousel? They get to pick one, but not both, and it usually falls into that experience based rule I mentioned above.
If you have kids, do you find yourself leaning towards this rule, or is your home overrun with plastic toys and games?
Check back for Part II tomorrow!!