We have all been there: birthdays, Christmas, Easter, watching as our children unwrap gift after gift after gift. If your children are anything like mine, they get so excited after opening each one but in a day or three the excitement fades and you are left with the task or adding these new gifts to the abundance of “stuff” your children already own. Even if you’re one of those on top of it moms who weeds out the junk before the overabundance of gifts arrive or you’re one of those moms who are great about rotating toys and clothes, the bottom line is our children just have too much stuff. To help combat this, I have implemented a change in my house. I no longer buy my children gifts; instead, I buy them experiences. Whether it’s a season pass to an amusement park, or a vacation to some awesome location, my children have been having a blast! Here are my top five reasons why I think you should join me and make the change:
Clean up the clutter
By giving my children experiences I have seriously cut down on the clutter in my house. My children now have toys that they actually play with and enjoy. Plus since there aren’t so many (there are still a ton) they are able to play more freely and without having to yell “mom I can’t find my (insert random toy here)”! I also have found that my children now play longer without coming to find me. It seems that since they have less they aren’t as overwhelmed and they are really able to enjoy their stuff!
Experiences are more meaningful
Let’s just be honest. That toy little Johnny just has to have or he will die, we all know if we are lucky he will play with it for a couple of weeks and then it will join the bin of forgotten toys. I remember for Christmas I bought my son a $50 Paw Patrol truck. By Easter he told me he was done with it and I could hand it down to his cousin! Seriously! But with an experience you are giving your child something that they will be able to enjoy and build awesome memories from. That’s something that a piece of plastic will never give you.
It’s the same cost
Again let’s be honest, as parents most of us spend way too much money on our children. We go into debt giving them piles of gifts so we can post on social media how beautiful our trees are and what a great celebration our children have. So why not spend that money on a vacation? I’ve had clients tell me that a Disney trip costs too much, but once I point out how much they spent on birthdays and Christmas they realize its usually the same (or cheaper). Still there are the hold outs that say “but my child enjoys opening gifts, I can’t just give them a piece of paper”. To this I say get creative. If you want to give them things to open then give them items they will use on their trip!
When your child is all grown up and they start to have little ones of their own ( I know, scary thought) are they really going to remember that beloved item that they just had to have? The chances are pretty slim. But chances are they will remember that awesome trip to Universal Studios, or that Disney cruise or that year long season pass to Bush Gardens. They will remember the time they spent with their parents, their siblings, and their extended family. They will remember the laughs, the inside jokes that come from experiences and even all the mishaps that eventually become treasured memories, for the rest of their lives. What’s better is they will relive these memories with their siblings for years to come and will often reenact them with their children.
Time is Ever Ticking Away
And with it your children’s childhoods. Before you know it they will be grown up and (hopefully) out of your house. The days of tripping over toys will be gone, but so will the days to take their pictures with a favorite character, or snuggle close with them during that firework show. My eight year old today told me the Disney princess were fiction, but she would still pretend they were real the next time we go to Disney. I swear it was a punch to my gut. I can only hope that on our next trip the magic returns for her. But that’s how quickly it can happen. One day our children are these bubbly wide eyed beings amazed by everything around them, and the next they are starting to look at life with a critical eye. So what are you going to do with the time you have left with them in the wonder and amazement phase? Are you going to waste that moment on pieces of plastic that will be forgotten, or are you going to spend it making memories that will last both of you the rest of your lives?