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Priceless life lesson

What are some inexpensive activities you do that makes you happy and/or allows quality time spent with loved ones?

My oldest child is graduating this June, and I've been reflecting back to the lessons I have tried to teach in preparation for his adulthood. The thing that stands out for me the most as being my weakest lesson taught, is that the value of time is priceless and happieness doesn't always have to be a result of something you pay for.

I did all I could to be, do and give everything to my son...and I worked hard and long to accomplish this. He had just about everything he needed and wanted. I went to every game and wrestling meet he ever had, and spent a small fortune doing it. In retrospect, I realize that even though I was there for him...I wasn't really there for him. When I wasn't working to earn money for all the expenses spent, I was running here and there in preparation of being the "super mom" and the big spender. Now that he is growing up and will be starting college soon, I finally get what people mean when they say time is priceless. Before he moves out of the house and onto true "adulthood" I hope to teach him this lesson.

Last week, I made my first lesson plan...instead of giving him money to go golfing with his friends, I introduced him to frisbee golf. He and the family went, and had a blast. It was fun, we did it together as a family, and it was free. What a remarkable, memorable moment!!! I look forward to doing more with the family without having to spend alot of money (preferrably none at all). He has decided to go into dentistry after high school, so his career choice may be lucrative. However, I want him to learn that no amount of money can buy the quality of happiness that only quality time with self and loved ones can provide. I want to teach him that continuous strive for "more" will always lead to a loss of freedom...and that this lesson is priceless.

With that in mind, I am asking for input on other ideas and activities to add to my lesson plan.

Wed. Apr 9, 8:53am

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In the interest of your son going to college, maybe taking cooking lessons together as a family. I know you are looking for inexpensive ways or low-cost. So how about getting him some cookbooks and teaching him to make a few recipies? Explain to him that he will thank you when he impresses his first girlfriend with his cooking skills. And the time you spend together in the kitchen is priceless - some of my fondest memories in life come from cooking with friends and family.

Good luck! I think your attempt is nobel and to be admired!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 9:47 AM

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It sounds like you are a very conscientious parent and I like your idea of showing him happiness without money. Our world needs a lot more happiness and a lot less greed! My boys are young so I don't feel like I have much experience on my side but anything like taking a hike, playing tennis, going for a bike ride. If you wanted to have a dual purpose you could look at being outside and cleaning up an area (park, beach, ditch, etc). Or if he would also enjoy some quiet time the family could take turns reading a book out loud, putting together a family scrapbook (or one of all his highschool events) for lasting memories, or doing some family geneology (promote awareness of ancestors and reinforce relationships). I hope this helps spur on some ideas for you and that you enjoy and treasure this season with your son before he moves on to adulthood!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 9:53 AM

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Yay for you, OP. I have a young daughter and sometimes I feel in the minority by taking the same approach. I'd have a ton of ideas if your son were younger! Although, recently, there was one thing I did as an adult for the very first time and it brought such unanticipated joy - I flew a kite! My astute husband remembered my saying it was something I wanted to do before I died, so for our next wedding anniversary he surprised me with a kite and a picnic lunch at the park - it was awesome. Loved, loved, loved it.

How about a lesson plan on the gift of giving to others? Make volunteering a family event.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 10:02 AM

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OP here. I love the cooking idea! He does love food (what teenage boy doesn't) The other 2 posters, I think you're onto something with the volunteering. I will check out some options. Although he sees me giving (I often participate in communitty events and I volunteer weekly by being a reading tutor), I haven't pushed him to do the same. I guess I have never considered whether or not he wants to do that kinda stuff. :) smiles on the kite flying :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 10:43 AM

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I am in a similar boat but my daughter is graduating NEXT June. We just signed her up for the SAT's and when I saw the schools she picked to report the scored to I just balled my eyes out. I am such an emotional wreck about it and am trying to spend more time with her before she goes. It's so true, you just can't imagine where that time has gone, I swear it was only yesterday she was born! We are planning a big Dinsey and beach vacation this year (normally we would just go to the beach and she gets bored there!). Also, my husband has finally agreed to start walking in the evenings with me and I'm pretty sure all of the kids will want to come along, I'm hoping at least. In the summer we do all go hiking together, pack a lunch and make a day of it. I just love these times, when they are all not arguing anyway! LOL!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 5:35 PM

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My daughter went to college last Sept. It was a very hard transition, but to the above will get through it! You'll be amazed when you look back this time next year.

As for quality time, through the years, i spent a lot of time with my daughter reading books together - from age 1 through about 6th grade. From there on, I read many of the books she did even tho they were children's books so we could discuss and share. We also spent many days cooking together, where she would pick out the recipes - anything goes, and we would try it. She played the oboe, and I played the flute back in high school, so I bought duet books and we played lots of duets. I will say, I spent lots of time watching her sports and practic, listening to concerts and earning money so she could do things too. For her activities I tried to be the volunteer mom so that I was not just watching, but helping (i.e. band mom). Those of you reading this probably realize I had little time for this and working too, so yes, I went through a big empty nest thing last year, but the closeness of me and my daughter is irreplaceable and I'm hoping will last my life time. I gave up all my own hobbies when she was born, since I was a working mom, and it was worth it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 6:08 PM

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It's so strange at the end when you say you gave up all your own hobbies when your daughter was born. Up until that point I was thinking about how much fun it sounded like you had keeping up your old hobbies in a new way: reading, playing wind instruments, being a part of school band, etc. It was comforting to me as a 21 year old woman who wants a professional career, my hobbies, and motherhood. It's not that I would be a selfish mother (I would want to give my children the best of the best) but I always think I would find it terribly hard to prepare someone with all these wonderful life activities, when I myself wasn't getting that out of life. I also don't want to sacrifice my whole identity , and I wouldn't want my daughter to forget all those hours reading, those lessons, sports and activities I instilled in her once she's 25 either. Are these activities only meant for children then? I just don't get it.

The message to women considering children seems to be so clear: you have to lose yourself to do it right. Or is that just the message mother's want the world to hear for all the hard work they put in? I really hope it's the latter. Really really.

An artistically, academically, professionally, and motherly inclined female.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 8:01 PM

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8:01 Again

I'm sorry that my comment was off topic. I didn't mean to turn the thread towards something new or anything. I just got inspired to ask all these lovely and devoted mothers!

OP - I think your pursuit is a great one. I also agree with the cooking idea. I'm a college student and it took me a long time to realize that the type of food I was eating on my own was not healthy. I'm in third year, and 50 pounds later, i wish I knew what I knew now in first! Teach him the magic of fruit, veg, and whole grains - what better gift than health for your son?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 10:04 PM

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Hi 8:01 - I never thought of it that way, of enjoying my hobbies in a different way. In many ways that is so true. I did/do enjoy the things we did together, tremendously, regardless. I guess I gave up a few hobbies and shared some key ones by instilling the interest in her.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 10:13 PM

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While I am not at the graduation point yet, my oldest will start middle school next year. Along with the pressure of that she has a best friend who lives a very materialistic life. Never wanting or working for anything. I have been working hard to help her understand the value of time vs. money. It is a hard road, and I hope it will pay off for her as she grows.

I look forward to reading more ideas, thanks OP for this thread!

Thursday, April 10, 2008, 11:49 AM

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OP here...update:

My daughter (age 13) had her first middle school softball game earlier this week. She struck out and became a little tearful. The pitcher from the other team was tremendous! Accurate and FAST! We all were wide-eyed with her pitches. Anyway, yesterday, my daughter asked if I could take her to the batting cages. I told her that I had to pay for the upcoming prom tickets, limo, dinner costs, yearbook, etc...this week. We would have to wait until next payday. My son...suggested we all go to the park and we could all play, and let her practice batting. OK, this comes from the kid that constantly picks on his little sister (they goof together all the time). I thought that was really sweet and very out of character for him...especially when he was getting ready to go to his girlfriend's house. Is he catching on?

A suggestion for others: now that the weather is breaking, we will begin our backyard corn-hole tournaments (friends and neighbors participate). It's a blast, and it's free. We use to have a pot-luck each weekend, but chips and drinks are plenty enought (we have found). We have too much fun playing to actually take time to sit and eat.

Thursday, April 10, 2008, 12:30 PM

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Thanks OP

Just wanted to say thank you..I am a new mommy and I will always treasure your words and the value of giving time above all else...
I would suggest a family picnic at a favorite park, even one that you perhaps watch one of your sons games at..go hiking for the day,that way there are no interuptions just you the fam and nature...the age of your son is tricky as far as getting him invloved so perhaps those are some activities he would be interested in, and finally make a photo collage ya know work on it together, perhaps pictures of you and him or his wrestling days and frame it so it is something that he can take to college and not only think of the memories in the photograghs but the time you spent with him putting it together I bet this basically free craft will bring out lots of stories, good luck, have fun and again thank you for giving us new moms heads up!

Thursday, April 10, 2008, 8:31 PM

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8:01 - I don't agree that you have to give up your hobbies or your identity to become a mom. However, your priorities do change. When I was a new mother my father came to babysit so my husband and I could go to dinner with friends. I got home that night a bit buzzed (she was only about 3 mos old) and that's when it hit me, what if something happens? Will I be able to react to it, etc? That's when you realize it's no longer all about you, something just clicks and they take over your life and your priorities. However, I will say this, now that my kids are a bit older (teenagers) I've taken up several hobbies that are just for me. Horseback riding (tried to get daughter involved, she hated it... LOL!) motorcycling, more time with friends, etc because my kids now have thier own agendas. I am probably not as good of a mom as the OP, actually I know I'm not as I can be selfish with my time. I don't mean I do that purposely but I work full time and have 3 kids, it's so tough and you do guilt yourself regularly. I don't spend nearly the time I'd like to with my kids and I keep hearing this song on the country station more recently titled "you're gonna miss this." and I just tear up cause I know it's right around the corner for me. It is THE toughest job you'll ever have but THE most rewarding too!

Friday, April 11, 2008, 10:17 AM

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OP here...10:17, just because you find time for yourself, doesn't mean you're any less of a mom than I. It's not the quantity of time that's important. It's the quality. I spent ALOT of time with my kids because I was (still am for my daughter) their coach, team mom, chaperone, cheaffeur, etc...I made myself present, even when they were with their peeps. Of course I got their approval before accepting these roles. However, me hollering on the sidelines or mat-side on a daily basis is not what they're going to remember. It's the time we go to the caves, "white water rafting" in a creek, or last minute decision to learn frisbee golf that's going to stand out in their minds.

Me and hubby went to a yoga open-house last week. I took a neighbor friend and, my three neighbor friends AND all our husbands have decided to sign up for private sessions...1 class a week for 10 weeks. That's what's nice about having older get to also bond with your spouse more:)

Friday, April 11, 2008, 11:46 AM

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I had a child when I was 17, and one at 33. With the first one I was a single mom and always broke. It was actually a blessing to be able to say no to things that my older son really did not need. My older one has a great value for the dollar and appreciates everything. We are really close, When I had the second one, money was not an issue. He began to feel entitled. Nothing was enough, even at the age of 7. I found him to have less joy because nothing was special. I became a single mom again, and money became tight. We read together, talk a lot, and watch movies ...we are just together. He has a totally different experience when he with his dad (the spoiler), but now he gets to experience the love of a parent exhibited in a nonconsumer kinda way. It is hard to break old patterns, but it is worth it!

I think my point is, the time spent talking and sharing instead of constantly spending or doing, builds a foundation for you children to really know you, Know that they can come to you in the future, not just for holidays but when they really need you.

Saturday, April 12, 2008, 11:37 AM

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What an incredible thread. Not one judgement, not one woman feeling the need to defend her choices. Just a lot of help and suggestions and support. You guys are awesome.

My eldest left home this summer. Yeah, it's weird and hard. He's nearby but he isn't as involved with us as he used to be. And that's okay...just weird!

Since they were little, we have had one night a week together. The time was sancrosanct. We played together, learned something together, volunteered or gave service together, and had treats. Everyone took turns; someone would choose treats, someone a game or activity. Someone would teach a short creative lesson on something of importance or interest to our family (usually a lesson on something we value as a family or something families need to discuss, such as honesty, forgiveness, how to manage peer pressure, how to manage money; sometimes it was a night of expressing what we value in each other or how we can be better neighbors; just anything we felt would help our family grow as individuals and together). We still do this, and our teens at home still participate.

Saturday, April 12, 2008, 9:10 PM

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A college grad here

I remember when I graduated high school, and the best thing my Mom did for me was helping me get ready. I know it had to be hard on her because I'm the baby, but she helped me get what I needed for school by helping figure out what the best options were for the stuff I needed. She also helped me greatly by letting me have my own time to be with my friends. I know it was difficult, I spent most of my last summer working and hanging out with my friends. She didn't really get to spend a great amount of time with me that summer. It helped me though when I did leave, because I was able to be independent.
To you mothers, I know it will be a hard transition, but in the end it pays off greatly. My mother and I now have a fantastic relationship and it's all because she let me do the things I felt I needed to do at the time. It's kinda funny because my mom is still here, and since graduating college, I'm only in contact with one of my high school friends that I hung out with that summer. Family is forever. Just help your kids along the way. They will be greatful to be able to be independent.

Sunday, April 13, 2008, 11:19 AM

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