Even in a down economy, the Wall Street Journal reported in an article by Ruth Mantell, parents still spent $41.2 billion on traditional toys and video games. The economy is even affecting the tooth fairies (yes, I know who you are)! The same article outlines that parents, uh I mean, the tooth fairy is shelling out as much as $2 per tooth. No wonder today’s children love candy!
When I make these observations, I don’t claim to make it from a pedestal of parental perfection. Everyone knows my two-year old daughter can work an iPad better than most adults. She has her toys (though not as many as she wants) and we do try to give her the best we can offer. But how much further can parents go? Remember asking for that pony? That car? That toy? We can all agree, things are not getting cheaper and the improvement of our economy does not seem to be in sight. We must ask ourselves this question, what do my kids really want?
We all know the answer- it’s time. Time to play. Time to read. Time to take a walk. Time at the park. Time to worship. Time for a tea or tickle party. They just want a piece of our time.
As we approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, I can find no better time to give some suggestions regarding this innate desire our children have. I was made keenly aware of this in the past few days.
My dog Chuck has always been excited to see me when I get home. But in the past few weeks, my daughter would push my dog away to get to me first! With arms stretched out, she looks up to me and cries, “Daddy! You’re home! Hold me!” Without fail that has been my welcome everyday. From there it’s, “Daddy, come play in my room,” “Daddy, read me a book,” “Daddy hold you me,” “Daddy, let’s have a tea party.”
May I be honest, it’s not always the most convenient thing to do when I get home from a ten to twelve-hour work day. For starters, I would like to kiss and hold my wife first. Then I’d like to sit for a while and decompress. I may be hungry so I need a snack. There are so many other things I can and sometimes want to accomplish. But my child wants my time more than playing on the iPad, running around with Chuck, or even spending time with friends. She wants me!
So here’s a few reminders as we approach somewhat of a downtime this holiday season.
Don’t Default To Tradition
Americans are known for two things when it comes to holiday festivities- food and sports! The intoxicating smell of fresh-baked bread and pies, the seasonal drinks, and the football (since it doesn’t look like there’s going to be an NBA season).
Dads and even moms, don’t think that your child is satisfied sitting across the living room couch from you. They want more! Go out for a walk. Play in the grass. Frolic in the snow. In short- make memories.
Don’t Be A Slave To The Next Thing
It’s a widely accepted fact that if family or friends stay in our home for any reason, my wife will have an itinerary prepared for them- places to go, people to see, food to eat. She’s flexible but structured.
With the busy season upon us, build in your “itinerary” time with your children. Here’s some suggestions: walking and looking at the neighborhood Christmas lights with hot chocolate in hand, baking cookies for the widows of the church, visiting a hospital or nursing home, having a game night. Your not just spending time- again, you’re making memories.
I haven’t been a parent long but I can already feel that time goes by fast. What do you often reminisce with your parents and siblings about? Great memories! We still laugh at the same points. Make this a holiday season to remember by giving your kids what they really want!