Lately it seems like every time I log onto Facebook or Pinterest I see someone posting about back when they were a kid, or 80’s kids, and similar things. It has me thinking about that how much is practice and how much is preach in our communities. Everyone always seems to go on about how when they were kids we didn’t get to play video games often, if the sun was shining and the street lights weren’t on yet you were outside. That we all had to learn to make our own fun. I hear a lot of people gripe and comment on things like that yet I don’t see a lot of action. Dave and I both grew up as those kids, my sister Aja and I were always out jumping rope, riding bikes and playing at the parks with the kids on our block. Dave and his siblings lived on a farm where the rule was unless you wanted to do housework you were outside, and did they have adventures! Lots of hospital visits too I might add. But he loved it and would do it all over again, well some of it or he’d at least tie the rope a little better before preforming a belly flop instead of a Tarzan swing from his tree fort.
Dave and I don’t live in the stone age in our home but our kids don’t have a lot of the flashy things out there that many of their peers do. We got rid of some of our cable channels, mostly the fluff stuff and kids channels, we don’t have Netflix, they do not own a DS, ipod touch or cellphone, and they don’t have scooters (apparently this is an issue because lots of their friends have them, birthday’s are just around the corner). We do have several gaming systems for the TV (Dave was a kid who loved them and became a man who loves them more.) including a Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360 with Kinect and a Playstation 2. Now the girls maybe have 4 games they can play, and maybe only do so every 2 months. Mostly these are Dave’s toys to help him get through his night shifts where he is awake until 5am. The others are for fun, as we do live in Alberta the winters are cold and the days are short. So we do need something to keep the kids active. So we are not a family to judge those who have every gadget and gizmo out there. Diana has also started asking for things like an iPod Touch and DS. I look at those things and think OK sure this would be great for things like plane rides, waiting rooms, rainy days, and long car rides, but do you really need something like that? Also I have to look at everything in multiples of 4, because anyone with several kids, or had siblings knows if you buy something for one you most likely have to buy something for all, and I’m not ready to sink $500-1000 on things that will either get lost or broken because lets face it they are kids, and I find socks in odd places. For now though the girls are rewarded with iPod game time on our touches for being good, doing chores and helping out. Maybe when they get older they will get the chance to own things that big and fancy.
I also do want my girls to experience things like I did as well. Lots of time outside, getting hooked on books, and being crafty. I’m also not one to can you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I just don’t understand those that gripe about the way kids are growing up now a days who are not willing to make changes or stand up to their kids demands. I’m not saying people have to be mean but why can we not explain to our kids about the cost of things and even how to save their money. When Diana asked me the other day for an iPod, I told her that they cost a lot of a money. I explained that an iPod Touch costs as much as about 10 really nice Barbie dolls. That Mommy and Daddy don’t have the money to buy fancy things like that right now. With her birthday coming up maybe she will want to save her money to buy something special, like an iPod or a scooter. When she decides what she would like to put her money to we can then make a chart on how much Diana has now for money and how much she needs to get what she wants. I know that a scooter will be something she can afford sooner than an iPod, but it will be her choice. If she is anything like her Mamma the money sense and saving will come natural and she will jump right into saving money or at least enjoying it.
I notice while I’m on the same topic I’m all over the place with my points, ah typical Heather. Basically our kids won’t have the same experiences we did if we don’t let them. If we don’t create rules and structure around what they can and cannot do. If your kids are watching too much TV or playing too many video games then maybe it is time to unplug for a bit, or like we did get rid of the channels (we own lots of movies and the library has a great selection for days we need the TV more). Equip them with the tools and toys to want to play outside. Easter is around the corner, another idea I love for baskets is outdoor toys, like bubbles, jump ropes, balls and side walk chalk, you can even throw in a book about all kinds of games to play outside.Better yet get outside with them and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air yourself. Anyone who knows our family knows we love to geocache, which provide us with endless outdoor adventures, hiking trails, new parks, even fun events. Look at starting an outdoor hobby together as a family. Or get your friends and neighbors together for a impromptu BBQ and sport tournament. There is lots of fun to discover just try to think like a kid again and you’ll find it.
Teach them about being financially responsible and how to save for big items. Kids who learn to save for their big toys respect them that much more. They see the value of money and what it can buy and how long it takes to make that money and save it as well for something really special. Include older kids in the financial decisions in your home. By giving them a say you are helping them learn too, and also understand where you as a family sit financially. We cannot assume our kids understand and know our financial situations, all they see is what they want. They need to learn to understand the process of money. Why some families have both parents who work, why some parents stay home. How those families live. If my kids want to save up for a DS or an iPod I won’t stop them because I know they will appreciate it that much more the if I just hand it over to them.
As much fun as it is to be the friend we also have to be the parent, sometimes that means getting dirty and having fun with our kids but also being the one to teach them life skills and sometimes being no fun and having to be firm. Challenge yourself to be a kid and challenge your kids to age appropriate responsibility.