Instead of Stuff, Give Children Experiences
If your home is exploding with toys, it’s time to clean out, get organized and change course. Instead of buying stuff for birthdays, holidays and everything in between, how about buying or doing new experiences with your children?
Experiences will keep your home clutter-free, which means it will be easy to clean! And experiences give you and your child time together, which is what most kids want from their parents.
What experiences should you buy? From the arts to food to fun, the Triangle has a lot to offer. And the activities do not have to break the bank. (Except you really can’t complain, because you are already buying a mountain of toys.)
There are also the arts. For the past two years, my daughter and I have purchased season tickets to the Carolina Ballet for her birthday. It’s our time together, and she looks forward to every performance.
The North Carolina Museum of Art has wonderful collections. If you are afraid your children will touch those collections, just go and let them run around outside, which has open space and some outdoor art installations. Bring your bike and hit the adjacent greenway. The food at Iris, the museum’s restaurant, is really good, too.
Pullen Park has a carousel and a train that costs $1 a ticket and a food stand with tasty food. (Food is a theme here! We love to eat in my family!)
You can run with the whole family in the Second Empire Grand-Prix Spring Series road races.
Want to save for college instead of buying experiences? There are plenty of free options out there.
Take your kids to a game at any one of the colleges and universities here. Expose them to both boys and girls teams. Kids get in free at NC State and UNC girls basketball games. At Duke, 16 of their 24 sports have free admission.
Take a walk or bike ride on a Greenway or the Tobacco Trail.
Create a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood or downtown. (Every year The Washington Post creates a hunt, and I wish we would have a massive one here! Who wants to start one? Who?)
Libraries. Remember those?
First Friday Gallery Walk in Raleigh.
The R-Line bus in Raleigh makes a loop around downtown and is totally free. My son would ride on it for hours if he could.
Speaking of boys, mine likes to watch construction sites. Park in a safe place and just let him watch the bulldozers, cranes and backhoes do their thing.
RDU has an aiplane observation park, where you can watch planes take off and land all day long.
You’ll also find a ton of volunteer opportunities around The Triangle. For example, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has a farm, where you and your kids can work. Browse Carolina Parent’s round up of volunteer and community service opportunities in the Triangle.
Finally, Carolina Parent has a calendar of events you can check out each month.
There are hundreds of kid-friendly activities to do here. There is really no need to keep stocking up on stuff.
Clutter suffocates. Instead, get out and breathe with your kids.
Do you know of more kid-friendly experiences? I would be grateful if you would share them in the comments.
Leah Friedman is a mother of two and a professional organizer, who owns Raleigh Green Gables. She works with clients to help them clear the space to be in deeper relationships with themselves, their loves and their lives. And, yes, she lives what she preaches at home with a clean playroom, a clothes closet organized by color and an empty attic.