I told you that many of my 365 ideas would be cheap and nothing can beat this one ! It is free.
First a small ranting from a crazy mom. One of the worst character traits I see daily in children is the gimme's. There is a very weird and unreal sense of ungratefulness and "I NEED that". It is this self centered value system that we establish for our children that is, in my humble opinion, what will destroy this brilliant generation. Parents taking the child's side NO MATTER WHAT. Or, offering excuses for poor behavior. Using those excuses to pass off the need for discipline and teaching the Veruca Salts of the world to be unaccountable and irresponsible. So sad. We all know the children who can't be in a store without having a coronary if they do not get that toy that they NEED!!!! Such an ugly dilemma...not for the parents but for everyone else around them who have to hear the nonsense as the parent pacifies the child.
I work hard, daily, to help toddlers learn how to say my favorite line, "ok maybe next time". I have even been known to teach children how to sing the Rolling Stones. Not for their significance in rock n roll but because of their lyrics. "You can't always get what you want. But, if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need" (sung, by the way, in a rousing Jagger voice and lots of hip movements). So, in the spirit of that rant I urge you to consider idea 2... Window Shopping! It may sound contradictory but if you hang with me I think I can explain the value of this seemingly horrible event.
I take my youngest 3 to Toys R Us in preparation of their bdays and holidays. There are of course some ground rules. One, today is a looking day. We are not buying ANY toys. If we do not behave we will have to leave the store and will not be able to finish taking photos. Two, we will go down every aisle so you will get to see everything. You must use a whisper voice do we don't scare the babies. You also will use manners and say, "excuse me mommy, look at this". Three, if you ask nicely I will take a photo to add to our lists. These are the simple rules.
Now, you should be aware that photos are key because they will allow your child to learn there is a time to buy and a time to wish. Plus, they will feel empowered by keeping an accounting of all the toys they want. Of course, there is always a mommy word to everything I do. I get to have a record, with price, for everything my children want. It is exponentially a greater resource than the old list. They won't get it all but I will remember based on their faces what they wished for most.
While we window shop i make sure to point out the price of each object that they want. This way we talk about money but I am also teaching them to be smart. For instance, matchbox cars cost $5 and fast lane cost $2.50. If they get a fast lane car they can save up the money to purchase a superhero ball. Or, if Kiley really wants to save up to purchase a motorized vehicle we try to figure out how long that will take and how she can save up her money.
I also talk about things we need to give to others. Maybe neices and nephews or maybe each other. This way they know how much to save up at Christmas when purchasing a gift for each other. We usually choose a name of someone in need at Christmas. The window shopping is a time to reinforce this as well. I don't want to depress my children but it is a both priority for us to teach them about other people and children who do not have the blessings we have.
Rarely have we had to leave the store. Even my youngest behave so incredibly and shockingly well. I like to think they are finding things they want but also developing a sense of responsibility in regards to gifts and treats. Hopefully, this teaches them we do not NEED to buy things in every store we go to. Hopefully it teaches them to be excited about giving to others. Maybe it will teach them the value of money and financial responsibility. At worst, it is a magical way of spending a rainy day talking to my children and wishing together. The power of wishes is what makes the magic of childhood.