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?
During October we are surrounded by visions of vampires – costumes and advertisements and TV shows. But have you considered that vampires are with us every day of the year in the form of energy suckers?
Basically an energy vampire is an electrical product that cannot be switched off completely unless it is unplugged. For example a cell phone charger, if left plugged in, will continue to use electricity 24 hours a day. I found a list of the biggest energy vampires which are: TVs, window air conditioners, computers, video game systems, microwave ovens, and power tools.
Granted, most products go on “standby power” but when you consider all the electrical things in your home, it adds up fast. So how can we defeat the vampires?
The surest way is to unplug anything not in use. But that can get cumbersome so an alternative is to fight the energy vampires with power strips. Plug TVs, video game systems, DVD players, etc. into a power strip. Then flip off the power switch when done. This is way easier than remembering to pull lots of plugs. Get another power strip and do the same for all the chargers for cell phones, tablets, and computers.
Enlist the kids in helping find and fight the energy vampires. Have a little fun with this and train the whole family to “flip the switch” and “pull the plug.”
How many times do you walk in a room where the lights are on but no one is there? It’s so easy to flip the switch and yes, we’re spoiled by the instant light. I wonder what it was like to light a lamp, clean a lamp, carry a lamp, when you needed light. And if the electricity goes off and we’re left in the dark, we don’t like it one bit.
Lights are a simple place to start the energy use conversation with your kids. Have the kids go through the house and count all the ceiling lights and lamps. Then put a glass jar labeled “lights” and a dish of paper clips or pennies on the kitchen counter. Every time someone turns off a light she puts a penny in the jar. Every time Mom or Dad enter an empty room and find a light left on, they take a penny out of the jar. Try this activity for a week and see how full the jar gets. This is a visible way for everyone to keep track of this habit.
Another idea is to take the kids with you to the store to look at light bulbs. Help them compare incandescent, fluorescent and LED products. The kids will be amazed at the options.If you haven’t started converting light bulbs, decide as a family where to begin. Maybe the kids will want to try new products in their rooms.
What have you done in your family to tackle the “lights left on” problem?
A wild ‘Dust-nado’ that sent the town/schools scrambling a few weeks ago and the topic of Divorce made me think about how we cope with ‘storms’ of life.
In a sense we begin coping with all storms the same way. We open our toolbox of what we ‘know’ and begin to apply the skills to the storm. If the storm is small we may have all the tools we need to cope effectively. But as the storm grows we need to be open to allowing others (personal and professional) to help us fill that toolbox with the right tools. You really don’t want to use a hammer when you NEED a screwdriver (well in most cases- HA!).
In the midst of storms it can be difficult for us to determine the right tool to use for the storm we are in because we are in the middle of if surrounded by the yuck and muck. It can be hard to allow others to help us use the right tools – I’ll be the first one to admit I like to solve problems on my own! So I challenge you as I challenge myself – can you let others help you choose the right tool for your storm?
What tools have you found effective for life’s storms? Both big and small?
Here’s a great E-xtension Article – Coping with Stress
Or is it – I WANT it? For many of us, spending is the fun part of having money. Sometimes we do a good job of making spending decisions and other times, we probably could do better.
Our kids are no different. It’s hard for them to understand what you’re talking about when you start sharing ideas about making decisions. But what they will catch on to is how you make your choices.
So – listen to yourself. How often do you say, “I need this _____” when really you are saying, “I want ________”? All of us have lots of needs and wants. And young kids are apt to think they need everything and want it right now.
Here are a couple simple definitions for needs and wants.
- Want – something you wish for very much but could live without
- Need – something you have to have to live every day
Usually kids (and us adults) have more wants than needs. Here are four questions I used with my daughters when they wanted to spend money.
- Do I really want it?
- But, do I really need it?
- Can I get along without it?
- How can I pay for it?
Try using these questions when you want to spend money. See if you’re spending your hard earned money on needs or wants. Remember, your child will learn the most by simply watching how you spend your money.
How are you teaching your child the difference between needs and wants?
I grew up as a Missouri farm kid. There wasn’t much money but lots of chores – both inside and outside the home – and certainly no allowance. I had a piggy bank for small savings. And yes, my dad gave me a dollar for each “A” on a report card.
Did my parents teach me the right things about money? As an adult do I have a healthy relationship with money? Did I teach my daughters what they needed to know about money?
These are pretty weighty questions and ones that can cause a little guilt. So I was excited to hear the experts share the research results and their interpretations. The bad news is that the research isn’t conclusive and the good news is that the research isn’t conclusive. I also heard the experts share differing opinions. Whew – don’t need to feel guilty.
What I did learn is that parents don’t have to try to do everything a particular way. Many everyday mundane tasks involve money. Children learn from how they see their parents handle the family funds. We are back to that role model concept that keeps coming up on most any topic.
So let me give you some questions to ponder.
- What are you teaching when you pay for items with a credit card?
- What are you teaching when you balance a check book or reconcile a bank account online?
- What are you teaching when you give to your church or a local community project?
- What are you teaching when you save for a new computer or flat screen TV?
- What are you teaching when you complain about paying bills?
The list could go on and on. I just wanted to get you thinking about how what you do is always teaching. Anyone want to share a good story about a time when you taught your child a lesson about money by your behavior?
Yeah not really a catchy title… pretty boring because we’ve all heard it (and probably even said it ourselves).
In listening to the podcast there is one thing that really really won’t leave my mind. “Consistency”.
Gosh isn’t that the pits. It’s the same word we use to talk about guidance and discipline with children. Huh… guess that means it’s a pretty important word.
But sometimes isn’t it soooooo hard? I know it is for me!!! Especially when it comes to money. I desperately want to teach my children good money management but making the time and being consistent is where I struggle.
I need your help on ideas on how I can be consistent!!!! Yes this blog IS all about me!
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.
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