(Feb 1, 2020) As a former childcare provider and educator, I entered parenting with valuable experience “raising children”. What I didn’t know, is how many choices parents face, until I became one. It is mind blowing!
It starts with common choices for newborns, such as whether to use disposable diapers, bottle feed, allow pacifiers, or when to introduce solid food. As our babies grow, the choices keep coming: should we choose public school or private school, hot lunch or cold lunch, music lessons, sports, or horseback riding? Just when we find a rhythm, more questions arise; when will sleepovers start, should we limit screen time, do they need a cell phone and when should we start saving for college? Life is full of amazing opportunities that require a decision.
The maze of choices can feel overwhelming. At times, I even doubted my parenting decisions. One choice I never second-guessed was starting savings accounts for our children’s futures. At that point, we started including cash gifts for every special occasion. For instance, Valentine’s Day involved candy, books, and gift money. We encouraged them to save half and spend half of all gift cash. It became second nature to make deposits into their accounts. We also asked family to join us in building their savings. This decision resulted in great conversations about the importance of saving for life’s bigger expenses. We didn’t have the means to gift large amounts, but every dollar saved reduced their future student loan debt and taught them the value of saving. Now as our kids are actively using their savings for college costs, they have long since forgotten desired toys they may not have received, and they appreciate and value the “gift that is still giving”.
By Jennifer Dyck