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Three Presents

I received a wonderful message from a reader of our blog. I asked the writer for permission to share.   I love when our readers let us know that something has touched them personally. 

Beautiful little girl child with shopping colorful paper bags in

Listen in on Laura’s thoughts….and thank you Laura for being willing to share.

When I was growing up, each of us seven kids in my family received three Christmas presents from Mom and Dad, under the guise of Santa Claus: a toy present, a clothes present, and a book present. There may have been discrepancies in the total cost of each kid’s gifts, but that didn’t matter to us. We each had three packages to open. It was fair.

This system also helped Mom and Dad administer their Christmas budget. They were not the type to go into debt; if they couldn’t pay for it, they didn’t buy it. But they could plan ahead – quite necessary when dealing with 21 presents (seven kids times three)!

In addition, they taught us kids a lesson about finances. They told us that parents would leave money on the kitchen table for Santa – to pay him for the presents. They said some parents could leave more money for Santa than they could, while other parents couldn’t leave as much. Santa then considered each family’s Christmas list against the money and provided accordingly. That made sense to us and was a simple way to explain why some of our friends might get more, or fewer, presents than we did.

But most important, my parents were sharing their values. We learned we couldn’t have everything we wanted – we had to make choices. Sure we may have wanted three toys, but we also needed socks or a new pair of pants – we learned to understand limits. We also grew to enjoy and value reading.

I took my parents’ three present system to heart, and my husband and I followed it with our own children.

I can’t quote the exact research that supports my parents’ – and my – approach to holiday gift giving. But it seems to be in line with the concepts the specialists’ teach: treat children fairly, practice love and limits, promote literacy, and stick to your budget.

Laura Sternweis

Laura is a communications specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She has a B.S. in communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and an MS in rural sociology from Iowa State. She’s a former farm kid and the parent of two young adult children.

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Gift and Giving

christmasgiftboxWelcome guest blogger, Carol Ehlers, Human Sciences Specialist, Family Finance for this months topic on “Gits and Giving”

Simple Christmases that are low on cost but high on meaning are possible. In fact, a $10 limit per person is possible by carefully planning holiday spending.

The first step to achieving a small holiday limit is to make the decision to hold down spending. Tell relatives and friends you’re choosing to set a budget for exchanging gifts. This can be hard to do, but you may find that keeping holiday spending down can pay off in some unexpected ways.

Next, decide how to spend the budgeted Christmas funds. Will some be spent on the adults, or will it all be spent on the children?

Be creative by giving “low-cost experiences.” Many studies show that material possessions do not equal happiness and that experiences are much more intrinsically fulfilling than things. A Cornell University 10 year study and Journal of Psychological Science report confirm why experiences have the ability to contribute to happiness more than material purchases. Successful low-cost experience examples range from pottery making, rock climbing, horseback riding, bowling or skate tickets. Consider “Every Kid in a Park” (a free year-long national park pass https://www.everykidinapark.gov/ or geocache treasure hunts that end with ice cream. Consider sharing a skill or classes to experience sewing, painting or other similar activity. To keep it low-cost, find a family member, friend or community event to teach the skill at a discount.

Proven family focused gifts range from museum or science center memberships–to orchestra or community theater tickets– to a tent for camping. Sometimes a material gift can lead to an experience.

Families who have tried this low-cost Christmas have found it was more meaningful. Families that keep to their Christmas budget plan enjoy the feeling of financial security knowing there won’t be large bills to try to pay in January. There is also a good chance those inexpensive and thoughtful gifts will bring out the best in everyone and will be more meaningful.

 

We would love to hear about your inexpensive gift ideas! Share with us!

For more ideas download a free copy of ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Track Your Spending,” or “This is the Way I Spend My Money” a 12-month spending record.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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What Do I Get the Grandkids?

I’ve got my list and I’m checking it twice. No, I’m not the jolly old Santa whose lap the kids climb on with those endless “I want” lists. Rather I am the Grandmother wondering what I can get the grandkids that they will appreciate and use. Gone are the days when it was so easy buying for the babies.

So what to do? Well I could get a list from the kids or ask their parents for ideas. Or, I could figure out ways to give of myself to strengthen the bonds of connection. Perhaps there is a combination of the two that makes sense for me.

Kristi Cooper, a co-worker, recently wrote two handouts that are filled with practical ways to create meaning.

Giving and receiving gifts is an expression of love. It can be done in a manner that is respectful to needs, wants, finances, and family values. When gift giving occasion arise – holidays, birthdays, and special events – I give from the heart. Honoring the special connection with my grandkids is priceless.

How do you handle gift giving with your grandkids?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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It’s Not the Same as Spoiled

Wow – I think we struck a note (or nerve) with the opening podcast on overindulgence. Some people are responding with humor and others are seriously questioning what it means. And on occasion, I’ve heard “that surely doesn’t include a doting aunt, grandparents, and so on.”

I confess, I’ve been known to spoil my grandkids now and then. And I’m guessing some of you parents have given in to your child’s desire for that special something. That’s not what we’re talking about with overindulgence which is a pattern of behavior with too much, over-nurture, and soft structure.

Let’s start with one type of overindulgence which is material. That is having too much (toys, clothes, privileges, entertainment, activities) and not knowing what is enough. Researchers use a test of four to determine if there is an overindulgence issue. If one clue is present, then it’s time to stop and see what’s going on.

  1. Does the situation hinder the child from learning the tasks that support his or her development and learning at this age?
  2. Does the situation give a disproportionate amount of family resources to one or more of the children?
  3. Does this situation exist to benefit the adult more than the child?
  4. Does the child’s behavior potentially harm others, society, or the planet in some way?

Do these questions make sense? Have you thought about any of these questions as you make decisions in your family?

Note: As with all our podcasts we intend to share studies and research. Then our blogs are a further look into the topic from our perspective and we encourage your comments. I invite you to check out the research listing on the www.overindulgence.info web page. Links take you directly to research being done by Dr. Bredehoft and others. Another suggested reading is Study 6: Connections between Childhood Overindulgence and Adult Life Aspirations – A Preliminary Report by David J. Bredehoft and Chelsae Armao, 2008.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Episode 14: Kids and Money

Giving an allowance, paying for chores, offering money as a reward for good grades: Are these successful parenting strategies? How to help children develop a healthy relationship with money is up for discussion in this month’s Science of Parenting podcast from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

ISU Extension publications

Related resources

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Tick tick tick tick tick….

Tick tick tick tick tick …this is what I hear in my head this week. The tick tick ticking of 2011. I’m not panicked or frantic. I think just mindful that the year is almost over. Reflective about what I thought the year would bring and what the year did bring. Some good, some not so good. But all of it worth reflecting on.

My favorite thing to is to look back with my family over the goals we had for the year. Yes, we sat down and all wrote out some goals for 2011. We started that about 5-6 years ago – maybe more. We all sit down and come up with something we want to do for ourselves, something we want to do with each other, and some place we want to go. It has been as simple as “I want to learn to ride a bike” and as complex as “I want to go to Disney”. We write them down and then we put them in my ‘To Do’ folder.

Periodically throughout the year I clean than ‘To Do’ folder and remind everyone what their goals were and we think about them, possibly edit them and put them back in the folder. At the end of the year we bring it out  reflect on the things we did and didn’t do and then we do it all over again for the next year

You know what? We typically meet a majority of the goals… not all of them by any means… but as a family a good majority are met. And most of the time we did it without even trying. Isn’t that crazy?! Funny thing about goals is that if you write them down and date them they suddenly have the possibility of becoming reality. Even the trip to Disney happened!

What does your family do at the end of year? Do you create goals? Do you have traditions that help you celebrate the past year and welcome in the new?

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Exergaming: A better option than sedentary games for holiday gift-giving

If you want to buy your child a video game, buy a game that rewards physical activity. New research shows that playing some activity-promoting video games can be as beneficial as other forms of moderate exercise. For instance, adolescents who played Wii Sports Boxing showed physiological effects that were classified as moderate physical activity. Researchers concluded that children, ages 10-to 14-years old, who played eight hours of Wii Boxing per week, burned 1,990 calories; this is three times more calories than they would have expended if they were playing a sedentary video game. Researchers do not dismiss the importance of children engaging in traditional physical activities, such as walking briskly and running. However, if your child is going to play a video game, encourage those that reward physical activity as opposed to a sedentary video game.

Additional exergaming options include Wii Fit™, EA SPORTS Active,™ Dance Revolution™, and The Beatles: Rock Band. In fact, other research has shown that children who played certain video games burned:
• 125 calories in 15 minutes while boxing
• 92 calories in 15 minutes while playing tennis, and
• 77 calories in 15 minutes while bowling.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children between 6-and 17-years of age should engage in 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity most days of the week. Running and brisk walking are examples of aerobic activities that can improve your child’s overall health and reduce the risks for developing many diseases. Children should also participate in muscle-strengthening exercises at least three days a week. Also, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:
• Absolutely no screen time or video game playing for children under the age of three years, and
• No more than 1 hour of total screen time (includes playing video games) for children ages 3-12 years per day

If your child will be playing video games, find games that increase your child’s energy expenditure, heart rate, and perceived exertion, because many of these exergames produce effects similar to moderate-intensity exercise. More important, parents should remain mindful of the benefits of traditional exercise, as well as the recommendations for the amount of time children should play video games and engage in physical activities.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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