I document everything. Like, everything. I think you’ll find that this is a pretty typical occurrence amongst mothers and parents in general. We don’t want to miss a thing! So I’m always taking photos and videos of the things my boys and I do. I like to share bits and pieces of our lives online with my followers and friends who don’t live nearby. So, you’ll see on my social media all of the fun things my family enjoys doing together. I love being able to look through instagram and reminiscence on our adventures. When I think about it, what I love the most has nothing to do with the tangible gifts I’ve bought the boys. It’s always the experiences we’ve had. That’s why I’m a huge advocate of gifting your children experiences over things. Let’s dive into that in today’s blog.
Memories Make the Best Souvenirs
I think it’s natural to want to give your kids the world. That’s why Christmas morning is such an event. Parents always want to see their kids’ faces light up with joy as they tear into all the new toys and gadgets. And, don’t get me wrong, I understand. I like finding cool gift ideas that my sons will love. However, I have come to realize that when I look back on the moments that make me smile and bring me joy, they’ve all been so much more about the experiences we shared than some item I purchased. In fact, my kids hardly even remember some of those expensive gifts they received from last year.
Parents, think about the times you hosted an extravagant party for your kid’s birthday. Maybe you went all out on personalized decorations, balloons and goodie bags for all the guests. You bought the kid a cute outfit, arranged catering from a delicious restaurant and even designed animated invitations to entice all their little friends to attend! But, in the end, all the kids only talked about how much fun they had in the bouncy house. Nobody ate much of the fancy food. Nobody remarked about the invitations. And not a single person seemed to notice how your kid’s new shoes perfectly coordinated with his shirt and socks. But everyone is STILL talking about how much fun the petting zoo was, to this very day. That’s because people might forget the gift you gave, but they always remember how you made them feel. That, my friend, is the power of an experience.
Mom and Me
When I was about 11 years old, my mom and I visited San Francisco for a weekend and we spent time in the neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. I have written before about how amazing of an experience that was. It was one of the first times I felt like diversity wasn’t the exception, it was the rule. I had such a great time picking out a fancy dress and frolicking around town with my mom. I wouldn’t recognize until much later how impactful that moment in time was and how it would shape me. That trip was one of several experiences I had with my parents that I cherish, and it inspires me to go out of my way to create those types of adventures with my boys.
I like to involve my kids in various parts of my work that interest them. They’ve gone on many work trips with me where we can schedule fun tours and activities. Just this year we traveled to North Carolina and New York City for work projects, and the boys had a blast. We saw a Broadway play, the Statue of Liberty and they even took a carriage ride through the city with their grandma! Recently, I got great tickets to see Beyonce with my boys. Yes. You read that right. I took my sons to see Queen Bey, and we danced and sang until we were exhausted! HIGHLY recommend. The concert and showmanship were superb, but what really mattered was how electric everything felt. My sons are still reliving all the fun we had. I just know they’ll always remember the exciting evening we enjoyed together.
I want my kids to look back at various stages of their lives with fun stories to tell and warm fuzzy feelings. My hope is that I’ve invested my time and money in experiences that made them feel seen, valued and celebrated. Experiences last so much more than any gift I can give. The time we spend together is precious, and that makes it worth it for me.
Experiences Broaden Horizons
We talk quite a bit about travel here on my little piece of the internet. My wanderlust began when I was a kid, and I think it’s safe to say I’ve passed that onto my boys! We regularly take trips to various parts of our country and beyond. Now, while I love a good staycation when I need to unwind nearby, my heart and soul crave international trips! One of my favorite experiences to have with Kingsley and Kensi are trips to different countries. You already likely know Ibiza is my favorite place on earth. I don’t think there’s a prettier island. But, I love Spain for more than just the teal waters. I love that my boys get to see how other cultures live life. We recently spent a week in Croatia on a yacht, and while most of the time was occupied by fun watersports, we also enjoyed getting out to explore the area and learn more about the country. Our travels are full of educational opportunities.
Now don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to board a plane and fly across the world to have amazing experiences. There is so much to learn by even visiting different states! I’m a California girl through and through. I love living in my state and city because of all the diversity. I can still tell you that going to other states can be eye opening. A few years ago I needed to travel to Austin, Texas to film a TV show, and we were slated to be there for just over a month. Well, that gave my boys time to get signed up for horseback riding lessons and golf lessons. They had such a great time, but they learned more than any of us anticipated. I remember being shocked at the way the instructors used positive but stern reinforcement and discipline. We would soon realize that cultural elements were at play. The South was certainly different, and rich in its own social norms and traditions. Those weeks gave my boys an opportunity to experience the differences in various regions in the U.S.
Finding Fun in France
Right before Mother’s Day my boys and I boarded a plane to Paris, France. We were en route to Spain, and it only made sense to spend a bit of time in one of the most popular tourist locales in the world. We were fortunate enough to get reservations at Madame Brasserie, a restaurant located inside the Eiffel Tower. It was particularly special because it was Mothers Day in the U.S. The boys loved walking around snapping photos and reading about the history of the Parisian landmark. We enjoyed a delicious and decadent meal over stunning views of the city, and I couldn’t help being overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to give my boys these kinds of experiences. They were genuinely fascinated by all the facts they learned about the city, and they also got to put their gentlemanly habits and manners to use!
Listen, we sometimes tend to focus on the really big moments in life. We want to give generously and make people’s day with beautiful gifts. I get it, because I love that too. But, the most important parts of life are about the ways we spend our time and the people we spend it with. Whether we’re learning, traveling, celebrating a momentous occasion or simply hanging out over coffee, the experience is what matters. We’re all looking to feel something. I believe it’s more than worthwhile to put our energy and time into those facets of our lives. I’m becoming more and more intentional with the experiences I want to have with my family and friends and even a few I enjoy solo. We can’t always take things with us into every stage of life, but we will always have the memories.