Do you remember that feeling you had when you were a child and your mom or dad had you help them with something around the house? That feeling of being proud of something that you worked so hard for. I remember making science projects with my dad as a child. We would go in the garage together and build and invent to our hearts’ content. My dad made me figure out a lot of the little things myself; he didn’t to do the projects for me – I had to work for it. At the end of the project I felt closer to my dad and I always felt so proud of my accomplishments.
I see this happen time after time with my own children, when it comes to the way that we handle our family finances. Our kids earn money by chores done in our house. They earn money per chore that they do. The feeling that my son gets when he cleans the kitchen floor and earns his chore money is priceless. If I didn’t to do this, I would be robbing him of so much accomplishment and joy. That same feeling that I had as a child for completing my science projects is the same feeling my kids are getting when they work hard and earn their chore money.
I see so many people these days are robbing their children from this feeling… this good feeling from a ‘job well-done’. What if by giving our kids all the money and material ‘things’, we are actually robbing them of true joy and the feeling of hard work?
The other day I was surfing Facebook and came across and was inspired by an article titled “I’m done making my kid’s childhood magical“. It reminded me so much of the way that I used to spend money on my kids and try to ‘do it all’. Keeping up with the Pinterest moms…
Society tells us to give kids what they want, when they want it. They tell us that their friends have it, so we give it to them. Our friends take their kids to Disney, so we do it too (even if we can’t afford it.)
In the post I referenced above, the author writes:
“We do not need to make our children’s childhood magical. Childhood is inherently magical, even when it isn’t perfect.”
Childhood is magical, it is joyful, they care and they listen. Do you really think that your kids will look back and hate you for not taking them on an extravagant vacation every year? They just want to be with you and have fun. They want you to look up from your iPhone and look in their eyes and talk. They want YOU….they don’t need you to try to buy their happiness.
Don’t get my wrong, I love spending money on my kids. The look on their faces when they get a new toy is priceless, but how soon does that joy fade? How quickly does that toy end up in the bottom of their toybox? I started to wonder ‘Is there a greater lesson I am missing’?
This week is Spring Break for us, and while many families whisk away to the beach or to Disney, we drove 45 minutes to a hotel that we got for $52.00 a night and had a ‘staycation’. We ate ice cream, we watched a movie in bed together, we walked around the hotel and explored, went on a Carousel, and played in an indoor playground all day. We were together, and THAT is what matters most. We spent under $400 for our for 2 day Staycation, and we had the BEST time! If you ask my kids what the best part of the vacation was, they would tell you that having a TV in their bedroom was the best! We haven’t taken them to Disney yet, but you would have thought we did by their reaction to everything fun on this trip!
We weren’t always so willing to do simple things. It wasn’t always like this for us… when my son was younger and our only child, I got into the habit of buying him a toy every time we went to Target or Walmart. After two years of doing this we finally got smart with our money, realized our $40,000 in debt was not going to go away by itself, and we needed to figure out how to get out of debt. We stopped getting him toys…AND you would have thought his life had ended. Telling a 3 year old that he cannot have a $1.00 matchbox car in the middle of Target broke his little heart! Why? Because I had trained him to think that it was normal to get whatever he wanted. It was heartbreaking for me, and if I hadn’t had Mark to back me up I probably would have caved.
I also realize that my children are young and the pressures of having teenagers who want and need the latest/greatest clothes and electronics is not an issue for us right now. But what I do know is that by instilling that feeling of hard work in my children now, I can hope that it will have a long lasting effect on them.
I don’t want to rob them of that feeling of hard work and accomplishment simply to feel (temporarily) like a better parent. How often do we let that idea infiltrate our brain? If you are anything like me it pops up every once in a while. My hope is that my children will grow up knowing the value of a dollar, that they know what hard work is, and they know that entitlement is just not tolerated. My hope is that they look back and thank me for NOT taking them to Disney every year.