I’m just going to come right out and say it. When it comes to my kids, most of the time, I don’t really know what I’m doing.
Sure, I read a lot. I talk to other parents. I try to follow what my parents did with me. But most of the time, I’m flying by the seat of my pants.
So while I may make mistakes along the way, I love my boys to pieces. And that’s why gift giving occasions like Christmas and birthdays are so hard for me. I want to make my boys happy. I want to give them things they’ll love. I want to surprise them with well-thought-out gifts. But I also have a budget and limited space in my house.
My oldest boy turns 6 today, and as I wrapped his presents last night, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had bought “enough.” Maybe I should have picked up that one last thing he said he wanted. Maybe I could have added one more book or board game. I struggle with the idea that the pile of gifts looks “small” even though I know the value of what is inside. Does he have enough presents to open? Will he like them? Will he wish I’d gotten him something else?
And then I realized that this self-talk is exactly the kind of thing that gets people in trouble financially. And I realized that yes, what I bought was enough. I had found a few select things he truly wants and I found them on sale or used Swagbucks.
If I were to stretch my budget too thin and buy him everything on his wish list, what kind of lesson would I be teaching him? What sense of entitlement would I create in him?
Better to show my love for him in the cupcakes that I bring to school, the hug I give him before he goes to play outside, then to spend money I don’t have on things he doesn’t need.
It’s far better to give the gift of my time and unconditional love, for he will learn to give the same.