The holiday gift giving season is over. We did something a bit different this year. My older sister (who has five kids) and I (with three kids) asked some of our family members to give our kids gifts of experiences instead of toys. Let me explain. We asked for gift cards or tickets to events and activities. For example, our parents bought everyone (including the adults) season passes to Six Flags. This way we can all go numerous times and have some fun times together. I bought my niece and nephews a ticket to City Museum and a $5 gift card to use once there. With a family of seven, my sister has to pay a lot of money just to do a family outing. By receiving the gift from my family, they can easily afford to go. My husband’s side of the family jumped on board too and paid for tickets to Silver Dollar City and to Dixie Stampede. The memories we made while there will last much longer than any toy would have lasted.
My best friend even joined in the fun. Instead of exchanging gifts with her and her kids, we had a day of cookie decorating fun instead. We all had a great time and we went all out on cookie decorations (in fact, I’m still finding sprinkles;)
This was challenging for some family members. My mom especially was worried that the kids would be missing out on toys or be unhappy without the instant satisfaction of a toy. That was not the case though. For one thing, the kids all still received some toys. Santa brought them each three gifts (because Jesus received three gifts) and we gave them three gifts. So they had plenty of toys on Christmas morning. Plus, they were very excited to know we have some activities to do this year. The kids ages range from 18 months to 12 years old and no one seemed disappointed.
It is definitely something I want to continue doing. The happiness and quality time we have from these gifts are priceless.
Old School Games
“Red Rover, Red Rover send Stefanie right over”
“Tag, you're it”
These phrases were a regular part of my childhood. I recently discovered this is not the case anymore. I don’t know how I missed it but these games are not allowed at my kids' elementary school. I understand Red Rover (as I witnessed a fellow player falling and then having a seizure when I was younger) but I can’t believe tag is not allowed. The reasons I was given shocked me too.
1.Tag is not allowed because the playground it very crowded.
2.Kids who are not playing get bumped into.
3.Kids tag too hard (push instead of tag).
4.And, according to my kids, it is because no touching is allowed.
This frustrates me greatly. As to number 1, why can’t recesses be broken down into smaller groups? If money is the reason (I am imagining the cost of another recess aide), then maybe some money should go to this. Play is vital for learning. For number 2, if it was smaller groups, you would have areas to play without bumping into others. On number 3, really, really? We are not playing because some kids tag too hard? Let’s teach those kids appropriate behavior instead of saying no one can play. Regarding number 4, tag can be appropriate touching.
Recess is already so short and then to find out activities are so limited makes me sad. Some of my friends told me that games are organized during recess at their schools but my children say not at their school. Plus, I imagine organizing a game would take up too much of the time allowed (which I think is about 15 minutes).
Our children are losing the ability to naturally play. They are relying too much on video games and organized activities. I’m betting this is one of the reasons.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!