It’s that time of year again.
The time for Christmas lights, Christmas music, and your child’s Christmas list with ridiculous amounts of toys, toys, and more toys.
What’s funny about toys though is the moment your child opens their present and see’s the thing they asked for. They get so excited and scream at the top of their lungs, “IT”S EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED!!” They put it together, play with it for a few days, but then what happens? You guessed it – After playing with it for a little while, it either breaks or it goes in the toy box with all the other toys that your child once wanted so badly. They start to collect dust and then it’s just your money spent, a little bit of fun, and a ton of missing pieces that you eventually end up stepping on and then yelling at. But even though this happens, we still buy the toys because it makes the children happy.
But what if there was something better to spend your money on that would bring more to the lives of your children?
I recently was at my sister-in-laws wedding and I was talking to my Brother-in-law, Josh. A little backstory about Josh >> He has a beautiful wife and 4 amazing children – 2 boys and 2 girls ranging from ages 14 to 6. I enjoy getting to spend time with them because they are the most well behaved, polite, and joyful kids I’ve ever been around. I’ve always looked up to Josh and his family. It’s a family that’s full of Love – for Jesus, for each other, and for anyone who needs a helping hand. Every time I leave them, my life is better off because of the time we got to spend together.
As we were talking, Josh mentioned something he recently read in an article that talked about the importance of spending money on our children in ways that will bring growth, fulfillment, and memories that will last a lifetime. “Instead of buying your children toys,” he said, “buy them EXPERIENCES.”
As I was listening to him talk about this, I realized how much truth was in his statement. Josh is the lead singer of a Christian band that tours the country performing for people. What this means is that he’s sometimes on the road and away from his family. But when he is home, he and his wife Cara plan amazing trips all over the world for their family to EXPERIENCE together. They recently went to Australia and New Zealand - They’ve been to Europe – and they’ve gone to various National Parks all over the country.
When their children travel to these places, they get to experience the different cultures in each country or place visited – the foods, the people, the landmarks, and so on. They’re exposed to things that are new and different than what they are used to seeing here in America. But more important than that are the unbreakable bonds that are developed with each of their children that can only come from spending time together.
I realized that Josh lives and raises his children with exactly the same mindset and intention as the article he was talking about. His kids are the way they are – Smart, Polite, and Joyful - because of the way they’re raised and the things they get to see and experience together, as a Family.
This discussion with Josh really got me thinking - about my own life and about the family I pray to have one day. Looking back, some of the best memories I have as a child are those times eating at Luby’s with my mom and her letting me get the jello. Or the time My Step-Dad & I bonded like we’ve never bonded before after the Cowboys beat the Giants in the last second of the 4th quarter! We were 2 of 90,000 people screaming our heads off! We still smile about that.
If God blesses me with children, I want to focus more on creating similar experiences like the ones I mentioned above, that we could share together. Experiences like going to sporting events - Eating ice cream in Paris – or skiing in Colorado. Now I’m not saying I won’t ever buy my child a toy - I just want to spend more of my time creating experiences and then being the type of Dad and Husband who loves, cherishes, and maximizes those experiences with his family every chance he gets. I want my children to experience things I never got to experience – to grow in way’s I haven’t – and to “explore their own ways of finding wonder in their surroundings.” I want to give them these experiences because I know they’ll remember them forever and I know what these memories can do for their self-esteem.
We all live in our own little bubble – with people who are like us, food we’re used to, and the same To-Do list every single day. What happens to your children is that they now live in this same bubble - full of comfort, normalcy, and moments that could be new, meaningful, and fulfilling but instead are times spent alone with toys, routines, and distractions that do nothing but waste precious time.
Instead of focusing on just toys this Christmas, I want to encourage you to try creating new experiences for you and your child. It doesn’t have to be to another country or even to another state…just something that allows you to spend quality time with each other doing something you’ve never done before.
“Your child won’t remember his favorite day of TV.” But he will always remember the bonds that were created by sharing experiences with mom or dad.
There is nothing more meaningful than that!
I hope this encourages somebody like it encouraged me.