My 3 year old already has his first “job”. We drive around our neighborhood picking up electric scooters to charge at home. He loves going on the scavenger hunt with me and asks daily if we can “Go hunt for birds”. When we get home he is in charge of making sure the scooters are plugged in and the red charing light comes on. The red light always gets a standing ovation by him. I pay my son a few cents commission that goes straight into his piggy bank. The pitter patter of his feet as he sprints to his piggy bank warms my heart every time. I deposit the rest of the earnings directly into his college fund. It’s not about making enough money to send him to college (that would take hundreds of thousands of birds), it’s about setting a foundation of responsibility, commitment and drive to succeed. Plus, we spend a lot of quality time together doing it too.
As the holidays are approaching, I have been thinking about what presents I will get him. He wants a bike which we will get him no doubt. I like to get practical gifts that are educational and create time for us to spend together.
Here are a few gift ideas that are fun, educational and instill a foundation for #adulting down the road.
- The classic piggy bank. Nothing is more rewarding than dropping in a shiny, new quarter and shaking the bank to hear all the money jangling around in song. I enjoy rewarding my son for a job well done. He enjoys cleaning up his toys, washing the dishes, emptying the bath, and folding laundry. After a job well done, he gets a few coins to save up for the next trip to the donut shop. When we pay for the donut he picks out all on his own, it’s a ritual for him to hand the owner the money all by himself. Talk about being proud for his hard work.
- Watch. Like father and mother, like toddler. Every toddler wants to be just like their parents and having a watch teaches important life skills. In addition to reading numbers, it teaches our little ones a sense of control, patience and time management. They look pretty adorable wearing one too.
- Tool Set. I prefer wooden toys over plastic if possible. Longer durability. My little one follows me around the house fixing things with me. The helper mindset goes along way and having a mini handy person around the house is too cute.
- Broom Set. When my little one isn’t hammering away he’s helping me sweep. Hand this kid a broom and he is thoroughly entertained for 30 minutes. Before I got his own broom, he’d get upset when he saw me sweeping and didn’t have his own. Now we each have one and everyone is happy. Cuts down on my sweeping time too. Win, win.
- Gardening Tools. Nothing gives me more joy than quality time with my little ones outside on a nice day. Last weekend, I had hours of yard work to do and enlisting my son to be my assistant was not only rewarding for me but the highlight of his day. He helped me to dig up weeds, carry sticks to the compost and beautify the flower beds.
Bottom line, toys aren’t just dolls and trucks that clutter up the home. Toys can be practical. It’s our job as parents to raise our kids to be self sufficient, resilient and contribute to society. Teaching life skills from the moment they can hold a toy garden shovel will pay off in the end.