Consider Cost vs. Value When Planning to Spend Time with Your Kids
This particular thought has crossed my mind in a variety of instances. It’s something that could be contemplated whenever any parent is preparing to share ample time with their kids. The question I want you to reflect on is this: do my kids need me to spend money for them to be happy?
The moment this lesson really sunk in was about the time the county fair was coming to town. I had planned to take an extra day off at the end of the weekend so my kids and I could give summer a proper send off.
I couldn’t quite decide when we should go to the county fair and when we should go to the waterpark. I wasn’t really looking forward to the cost that comes with the county fair and I realized that the activities we’d be doing there, we’d be doing again when the farms open up for fall festivities. Even knowing this, I still struggled to cut the fair out of our plans.
After all, the kids! They would feel as though they had missed out! They would be so disappointed! Then the clouds parted and it dawned on me. Would they actually feel this way, or was it all in my head?
Mind you, middle-aged kids may be aware of the fair being in town and may be disappointed about not going. My kids are 2 and 7 years old. The fair was wholly my idea. I realized I had set expectations that didn’t actually exist.
Maybe you can think of a comparable circumstance in which you had decided to spend money on a toy or an outing, or on something extra, thinking that it would provide your kids with unmatched happiness.
Have you ever stopped off for a fancy blended drink? Popped for a movie at the full-price theater? Hit up a local, yet expensive event? Threw an over-the-top birthday party hoping to make your kids feel as fulfilled as they possibly could be?
I’ve done it an innumerable amount of times (like buying donuts when no one even asked for them!). The majority of the time, I have buyer’s remorse knowing the money was spent unnecessarily.
This time, however, was different. This time I thought about how all my kids really wanted was a chance to make memories with me. Aren’t there so many frugal ways we could do that?
Money in fact sometimes can muddy the experience. Sometimes we stress about getting enough out of the money we put in. Sometimes we pay for a novelty that doesn’t live up to the hype and that becomes the focus instead of our time with our kids.
After having this click, it was pretty easy to scrub the fair from our agenda in exchange for something less costly, but way more quality.
My kids and I spent the morning of my day off leisurely. They acted like it was Christmas when I pulled out a cooking set my daughter had been gifted for her birthday years ago and told them we could FINALLY make homemade donuts like they had been asking about for a couple weeks. They then voted to spend time together at the library. Throughout the remainder of the day, I was equally engaged and ended up spending very little.
Some of our other weekend activities included putting together a snow globe kit (another of my daughter’s presents, but from this year), making and rolling pie crust together, chasing each other around a nearby park, and using a squeeze bottle to cook pancakes in custom, silly shapes. I look back on that weekend warmly, knowing that all of us had a special time. It’s amazing to realize you don’t need to spend money to achieve that.
We, as parents, are the ones inclined to think about what money we could spend to create an experience for our kids. It sometimes becomes a main focus.
Where is our kids’ true focus? It’s on us.
So if we make ourselves a prominent part of their experiences, they will have everything they truly hope for.
Do You Have Suggestions for Spending Time, Not Money with Your Kids?
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