I believe that children want – more than anything – to spend time with their parents. And since Dad is typically involved with play, they want time with you. Stuff is nice, but they’d rather have your undivided attention.
When each of my children was born, I made a promise to that infant that I wouldn’t buy her or him a lot of stuff. Requests for things would largely be met with No. However, I would give unstintingly of my time, since that is what is what I – as a cancer survivor – find most precious. I have managed to live up to that promise for years but I now find that the press of life with three children and schedules leaves little time for what we took for granted in earlier years. Requests by Youngest for gametime, wrestling or reading a book are increasingly met by refusal because of other commitments. And last night I considered what I’d read with the older kids, and played with them, that I haven’t done with Youngest.
So I’m considering something different for a Christmas gift this year.
Instead of figuring out all of the presents that a kid should get, I would make my time my primary gift to each. Each would receive a printed coupon book with each coupon claiming time for a different activity – movie nights, reading hours, wrestling matches and the like. It won’t be as cheap as you might expect since some of the activities will require tickets or evening "dates" for dinner out. Yes, there will still be wrapped presents under the tree but each will reclaim time from me that has become lost in the shuffle of daily life.