Friday, March 13, 2009

When kids need to HAVE something when they DO something

I never feel deprived when I can’t have something, but I feel ridiculously sorry for myself, or my kids, when we can’t do something.

Back when we were dating, my husband and I agreed that we would always choose doing over having, when it came to our spending priorities. So, we do lots of cool things, in my opinion, without having to feel like we have to also buy things to have in the process.

For example, we ski all the time, but with pretty old gear. We travel the world, but camp, stay with friends, or choose “quaint” over “fabulous.” We go to concerts, events, day trips, even theme parks, without having to get the t-shirt, the poster, the expensive lunch, or the souvenir.

Then along came our kids. Of course we want them to see and do, and so they have.

But….kids seem to need to have when they do. And there is a multi-billion dollar industry that knows this. Everywhere we go, we have to walk through a gift store to reach the exit sign. At every outdoor event, there is someone selling a $12 balloon or $15 spinny light thing that will break in the car on the way home, and every other kid has got it. And in addition to the spinny thing, they need the sugary thing.

What starts off as a quality, affordable family outing can turn into a depressing pile of plastic, sugar, and credit card debt, just so the kids can “get something.” It’s enough to make you not want to go anywhere at all.

Then one day, a friend of mine brought along a bag of lollipops to keep in the car after a day at a theme park. Low and Behold, the promise of that one lollipop at the end of the day allowed my kids to turn a blind eye to every “make your own sand sculpture out of colored edible sugar” stand we passed.

Could it be this easy? Are kids that cheaply bought off? The answer is YES, and the younger they are, the cheaper. They just need Something, and if you bring that Something along with you instead of buying it there, you will spend almost nothing.

Here are the Somethings that have worked for my kids, and I encourage you to stock up now for your next special outing. Just DON’T give these things to your kids all the time, or the magic will be ruined:

bag of lollipops
glow sticks
popsicles (for when they get home)
a turn taking pictures with your digital camera
a turn holding the flashlight
a wrapped toy from the dollar store (lifesaver at Disney World!!)
their own notebook and crayons to keep a journal

Yes, it would be great if kids didn’t need these things every time they got to do something, but they’re just kids, and I myself am tired to trying to completely fight that concept.

When they get older, I am going to give them a set amount of money to blow at the beginning of every season, and when it’s gone it’s gone. They’ll learn quickly.

But right now, I love being able to spoil them with a 20-cent glow stick when we’re out late at night. They couldn’t be happier.


1 comment:

lindabhayes said...

I'm trying to figure out a way to comment. Great post.