If you’re worried about not being able to give your kids enough stuff this year (or any year, for that matter), let me set your mind at ease. Your kids don’t need more things from you, they need more time with you. When they’re all grown up, that’s what they’ll remember most!
Your Kids Need Time WITH You, Not Things FROM You
With the world dealing with one of the worst financial crises in our lifetime, nearly every parent I talk to has the same giant worry looming over their heads. “How on earth am I going to afford the holidays this year when I can barely afford my rent/mortgage?”
While I can’t completely erase that worry (it’s a valid concern and we all need to feel our feelings right now), perhaps I can help set your mind at ease at bit. As I said above, kids don’t need things from you, they just need more time with you. In 10, 20, even 50 years from now, they’ll remember how it felt to be with you far more than the things you wrapped up in shiny paper.
Here’s the thing- you can’t head over to Amazon and pop some great memories in your shopping cart. Well, maybe you can. I mean, they have everything, so it wouldn’t surprise me. However, they certainly wouldn’t be your memories. All the money in the world can’t buy those. You have to make them yourself.
I am a firm believer in giving kids experiences more than things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should never buy our kids physical gifts. I just think we need to put more focus on making memories by spending time together rather than trying to buy them with a shiny new toy.
Like Bruce Perry said, “Children don’t need more things. The best toys a child can have is a parent who gets down on the floor and plays with them.” While that’s pretty much common sense, science does support that philosophy. So, let’s check out just a few of the benefits of giving your kids time instead of toys.
Benefits of giving our kids time instead of toys
It doesn’t take a scientific study to prove that kids benefit from spending more time with their parents, but that doesn’t stop researchers from doing them, anyway! Here are a few highlights. We’ll keep it short because this is about feelings rather than science. 😊
First, some great news- we’re already on the right track. According to a 2016 University of California study, today’s parents spend more time with their kids than parents did 50 years ago.
As Judith Treas, the author of the study explains, “The time parents spend with children is regarded as critical for positive cognitive, behavioral and academic outcomes.”
- One study found that spending time with teenagers in particular really helps improve their overall well-being.
- This one shows that time together influences your child’s academic success more than genetics or money.
- Quality time together can even help your kids stay fit and make healthier choices in the long run, according to this one.
Bottom line, spending time with your kids increases their overall physical and mental health, and helps them become more well-rounded adults in the future.
The great thing about giving time: it’s free!
Remember, giving kids time instead of things doesn’t have to cost a single dime. There are so many totally free ways to make memories without breaking out your wallet. Just off the top of my head, some ideas include:
- Playing games together as a family. Better yet, make up your own!
- Going for walks, hikes, bike rides, and other free outdoor adventures.
- Watching old family movies together- or making new ones!
- Peeking in on virtual zoos and keeping up with your favorite animals together.
- Teaching each other new skills (yep, even your toddler can teach you some new tricks).
- Going through family photo albums and asking your kids to share their favorite memories from that day.
- Going through YOUR old albums and sharing your own childhood memories.
Of course, you could always just get down on the floor with them and let them guide your playtime together! You don’t have to do anything specific, just be there in the moment with them. That’s really all that matters.
Also, never underestimate the powerful effect of just having dinner together four times a week. More than just a great way to spend more time together as a family, eating together sets your kids up for future success according to studies.
Ask anyone who lost their parents which they’d prefer- more gifts wrapped up with shiny bows or more time? I’m willing to bet every single one would say, “I’d rather have one more minute than all the stuff in the world.”
Now, get out there and go spend some time with your kids. Make beautiful memories that will last a lifetime, which is a whole lot longer than a new toy lasts!