For What its Worth – New Years Resolution – Part 1

How do you spend time with your child, or children? The following post title and body was emailed to me from a very close friend of mine who is a father of a wonderful energetic boy. I am taking his email post and splitting it up in to several posts. This father has a lot to say with some really great and valid points.

Do not forget to email me with suggestions that you would like to read, or suggestions or comments on previous posts.

So, I present to you, a New Years Resolution – Part 1

It happens from time to time. In between the e-mails and house chores that divert my attention from my son… every once in a while I manage to spend some time with my son giving him my undivided attention. Take a minute and try to think of the last time you dropped everything, and sat on the floor to engage with your kid(s). No TV in the background, no laptop in the foreground, no smart phone in the one hand, no pot on the stove, no homework on the table. When was the last time you sat with a puzzle, a game, a toy, or simply shared a conversation with your child giving them the precious gift of your time?

If you’re like me, you’ll be disappointed with the answer. I don’t do it nearly enough. Don’t get me wrong. I have long considered myself on the upper average of Dad’s who take time for their kids. I consistently do bath time and bedtime rituals more than 50% of the time. I drive him to school every morning and at least half of those mornings the radio is off and I have 8 minutes of conversation with him. I help with homework and take him to soccer practice and basketball practice and always pause my TV to help him when he’s having trouble beating a level on his Nintendo DS. But is that enough?

The last 10 days my son has been off of school for Christmas vacation so he’s been buzzing around the house with big toys, little toys, electronic toys, loud toys, fast toys, expensive toys that he’s been dreaming about for months. I spent my share of the long weekend surfing the Internet and catching up on television while he played at my feet or sat next to me pushing the buttons on his new toys. When my DVR was out of shows and I ran out of Internet to surf, I turned off the TV and shut down the laptop and invited my son to some quality time.

Part 2 of this post will highlight the activities we shared with some unique twists that might inspire your own household adventures.

Paying It Forward

Toys 'R' Us

Toys ‘R’ Us (Photo credit: Jeffery Simpson)

I have experienced one of the nicest, kindest gesture I may have ever seen. There is a person at our church who wants to remain anonymous, decided to give some of our little kids in our Sunday School $25 gift cards to Toys R Us and Target.

Some?? How many is some? Well…almost 70. Thats right, 70 gift cards split between Target and Toys R Us…. and thats not all…. The church school director informed us that there were several Giant (local grocery chain) gift cards. I do not know the dollar amount of those gift cards. I know is that they were “extremely” generous.

We received our gift cards in the mail. The gift cards were accompanied by a nice letter explaining there was no obligation to pay if forward. But if we did pay it forward, the church wanted to know what we did…

So what did we do?

I loaded up my two kids, and my Toys R Us Coupons and we went to Toys R US in Annapolis… during the Christmas madness… YUP… I knew what I was walking into….and my youngest was already cranky… But nonetheless … off we went…

My girls love Barbies… L-O-V-E Barbies. So I explained to my oldest that we were trying to get the most out of our money, so lets get the Barbies that were on sale. I am trying to turn her into my ‘lil bargain shopper. She found some Barbies that were $40. So she’s a beginner on the bargain hunting. So I explained in more detail that we were wanting to find the cheaper Barbies….

When it was all said in done, coupons used, gift cards redeemed, and I chipped in too… we had 6 Barbies, and 12 Barbie outfits. We gave all these Barbies to my Wife’s school. Their school adopted a couple families that were not having a christmas. Some bought food for Christmas dinner, toys and clothes for kids…

It doesn’t stop there. We discussed what we were doing to some of our closest friends. They decided to do the same thing as us. When it was all said and done, my wife had a good load of toys to take to her school for these kids that would not have had a nice Christmas, or a Christmas at all.

I wasn’t really looking forward to go to Toys R Us a few days before Christmas. Who would? Doing this with my oldest and explaining the importance of paying it forward to my her really made it all worth while.  She got it. She wanted to make sure we got the Barbies that she thought the kids would play with. It was awesome!

On a side note…While at Toys r Us,  I got my youngest a “I can Be…a President Barbie” Ava picked out the Dark Haired Barbie (I have no freaking clue what her real name is… they ALL are Barbie aren’t they??) …. So she decided to change her name to Sarah. Yup… Sarah…

So here we are, a dark haired President Barbie with a new name of Sarah. So I did what any other Dad would have done… I taught Ava to have her Barbie/Sarah say ” I can see Russia from my house” and have her do some “fancy pageant walking” …. I am bad. I couldn’t help it..

Did you pay anything forward? Did you donate to Toys for Tots?

Parent Teacher Conferences

So, my daughter is a first grader. She is a very bright little girl. She received her report card and she got straight A’s! I am so proud of her. Her mother and I still wanted to meet with her teacher.

My things have changed… First, I was NEVER a straight A student. When my parents wanted to go meet with my teacher, I was panic mode every day until they met with her/him. When I told my daughter that I was going to meet with her teacher, I asked her, is there anything you want to tell me? (I know she’s a good student, I just liked egging in on a little.) Her response to me was… Nope, and went back to watching Barbie. I on the other hand, wouldn’t have any fingernails left within the first hour of being asked the question… I wasn’t a bad student, I was an A-B with a occasional C student. (Dont ask me about my Senior year of College)

Why does she do so well in school. I will pat my wife on the back and give her a high five. My wife is really bright, and smart, and a Teacher. She has the patience with homework, and knows the proper ways to teach little ones… I on the other hand don’t. I will get frustrated after the 10th time of going over “Little Bill lost 2 balls, he had 5, how many does he have left?”

I truly believe another reason she does so well in school is because we are also active at her school. Either volunteering at book fairs, parking lot attendent (see my blog on Watch D.O.G.S) or attending social gatherings at her school. Being active and knowing the teachers at her school is very important to a child’s success.

How do you participate in your child’s education?

Coming to a Patch near YOU!

A Toolbox For Dad is coming to a Patch near you. ATFD will be in different Patches in Bowie, Columbia, Savage, Aberdeen, Takoma Park, Annapolis and several more. This blog is even in South Carolina Patches. Trying to do whatever it takes to help get the name out there.

Check back this weekend for some blogs on Personal Finance, and Kids in Sports!