This year, Mothers Day didn’t quite go to plan. I’d given my kids a very specific brief. I didn’t want any presents, I just wanted their presence. “It would be nice to get out and do something together”, I told them.
Imagine my surprise when my Mothers Day present turned out to be a horse riding experience. I was overwhelmed. What an amazing gift. And what wonderful children I have grown. Children who have clearly spent a long time saving enough money for us to all go horse riding together.
There was silence. And nervous shuffling, before Miss 9 admitted that not only were we not booked to go horse riding that day, they hadn’t saved a single penny. The thought that they might actually have to pay for the gift they were giving me clearly hadn’t entered their heads.
I thanked them graciously. After all, revenge is a dish served cold.
A week or so later I took them to their favourite toy shop. I told them I’d love to buy them a present for getting such good results on their school reports and pointed them towards the biggest, most expensive box of lego I could find.
They were so excited. They told me I was the best mum in the world. They didn’t suspect a thing.
After I’d fake-paid for the box of lego at the counter we headed for the door, and just before we left I delivered the killer blow.
“I’m so glad you love your box of lego, and so proud of you all for getting such good school reports” I said. “Now you each owe me $100”.
I stood there smiling lovingly at my children, watching as their faces went from shock, to confusion to utter despair.
“But that’s not fair” they howled. “You can’t do they” they cried.
“Why should we have to pay for something you’re giving us” they wailed.
The penny dropped. My work was done.
I finally got to go on my Mothers Day horse riding experience. It took the kids several months and lots of hard work to save the money to pay for it, so they’ve definitely learned their lesson. But there were a few lessons in this process for me as well – things I probably should have taught them earlier about giving the gift of an experience:
- Experiences don’t have to be extravagant or expensive. Remember what you are really giving is your presence and the chance to take time out of this crazy, busy world to hang out together.
- It truly is the thought that counts. It takes time and effort to come up with an experience for someone else to enjoy, but it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the interests you share and the things that connect you to each other.
- Just because it isn’t expensive doesn’t mean it has no value. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, then spend your time and energy thinking of creative ways to make a simple experience feel more special.
- Stay within your means. Experiences aren’t always the cheapest option and extra costs such as food and transport, can add up very quickly. Giving experiences is about creating happy memories, which you won’t do if you’re spending the day worrying about how you’re going to pay for it!
I’ll persevere with teaching my kids to give – and receive – experiences instead of stuff in the hope they’ll grow up understanding that the most valuable possession they have – the most valuable thing they can give – is their time.