My neighbor recently purchased a four-hundred-dollar sandbox for his young children. How can anyone spend four hundred dollars on a sandbox you might wonder. Simple. It's a state-of-the-art sandbox with a swing set and slide attached to it. It's high quality through and through.
With all due respect to my neighbor (who loves his children and has the best of intentions when making major purchases for them, I'm sure), children do not need a four-hundred-dollar sandbox. What they do need is the experience of going out to the backyard with their parents and building a sandbox. They need to hold boards together while we pound, and do the pounding while we take a turn holding the boards together. They need to get a sliver and have it removed and bandaged. They need to help us sand the boards so slivers are less likely. They need to rub
shoulders with us, sweat with us, smell us, see us, touch us, and hear us. They need the experience of building a sandbox much more than they need the sandbox.
So the number one summer rule for parents is this: When investing in your children, invest in experiences, not in things.
1. Instead of buying another stuffed giraffe for your children, take them to the zoo and let them experience a real giraffe up close.
2. Buying a new fishing pole is fine, but using it is better. Take your children fishing this summer.
3. Have your children seen a horse, touched a horse, ridden a horse? Purchasing the Disney movie Spirit is one thing. Getting in touch with the spirit of a live horse and feeling its breath on your face is another.
4. Take a blanket and pillow outdoors at night. Count the stars. Look for satellites.
5. Take a walk in the woods. Look for animal tracks. Notice trees and flowers.
6. Play catch, shoot baskets, volley a ball or a badminton bird. Challenge each other to see how long you can keep the ball going rather than who can score the most points.
7. Have a water balloon fight. Get wet. Get wild. Get silly. Get with your children.
8. Catch fireflies and put them in a jar. Later, let them go.
9. Go to a parade. Get there early. Stake out your territory with folding chairs and blankets. Invite a friend or relative.
10. Pick cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, corn, apples, beans. Get stained, dirty, and sweaty.
11. Sit around a campfire. Talk. Listen. Roast marshmallows.
12. Plant a tree.
13. Write and send postcards—from home or from out of state.
14. Clean a closet. Collect unused and outgrown clothes. Donate them to an appropriate charity.
15. Take a trip to the library. Let your children choose several books. You choose some, too. Read to your children over the next several weeks.
16. Go on a photo journey. Allow each family member to take a set number of photos. Create a family album with the developed photos.
17. Do loving service. Bake cookies for someone in military service. Mow the grass for an elderly couple. Pick up litter from a roadside picnic area.
18. Go garage sale hopping with five dollars in your pocket. Give your children a similar amount. Come home when everyone has spent all of their money.
19. Walk in the rain. Sing in the rain. Skip through puddles. Take your shoes off. Take your adulthood off.
20. If you live in the country, go to a big city and walk around. If you live in a city, go to the country and walk around.
21. Check out a college campus.
22. Make popsicles with Kool-Aid and toothpicks.
23. Visit a post office. Mail a letter.
24. Bring out old photo albums. Take turns saying, "I remember when . .."
25. Cut and paste. Staple and glue. Color and paint. Make a mess. Then clean up.
Let your children experience a farm, a skyscraper, a fire engine, a campground, or a foreign country. Let them smell flowers, look for birds, feed ducks, or bake cookies. Help them find a four-leaf clover, shuck corn, wash the car, or open a savings account. Whatever you do, remember: When investing in your children, invest in experiences, not in things.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They also publish a FREE e-mail newsletter for parents and another for educators. Subscribe to them when you visit http://www.chickmoorman.com/
Feel free to reproduce these articles and share them with others. All we ask is that you reproduce an article in its entirety and use our tagline at the bottom. That way the recipient can use our websites, http://www.chickmoorman.com/
free e-mail newsletters or search for more information about parenting and teaching. Thank you for honoring this request.