The benefits of splurging on memories instead of stuff

Years ago a friend told me that when she and her husband started their family they decided that whenever they had a little extra money they would choose to spend it on making memories instead of buying stuff. They believed if they stuck to this philosophy, in the long run they would ‘come out ahead’ with their kids.

From the evidence of their terrific four grown children, I think they chose wisely. It’s a model that more and more I seek to incorporate into my family’s life. Recently I spent money on something I swore I’d never do before having a child: I spent $350 on a 4-hour rental of a giant inflatable water slide.

And boy am I glad I did. Why?

Renting an inflatable water slide is a great opportunity to connect with neighbors.

It was a day of unbridled joy.

The volume of laughter and screams from my son, a couple of his good friends, and several kids from our neighborhood said it all.  In the midst of this intense Washington heat wave, I caught a break and secured an inflatable water slide because of a cancellation. My son got to meet kids that he’d seen at school but had no idea that they lived just a few houses down our street. Hey, it’s Seattle: it happens, right? For kids, just add water and a few squirt guns for some backyard fun and their energy provides the rest of the party.

It was a day of great connection with some neighbors.

The second break I caught was it was a “non-camp” week for several neighbors’ kids, and one neighbor picked up her kids early from their camp because it was just too hot.  Another neighbor I invited moved in just one year ago and I was so thankful to have some extended time to visit with her and have a chance for her children to get to know more kids in the neighborhood.

Inflatable water slide and squirt guns provide huge summer fun for kids.

It was a day that brought back memories of my own childhood.

I remembered playing flashlight tag with all the neighborhood kids until late at night and running in the sprinklers together in someone’s backyard. I remembered good times and felt an intense sense of gratitude to pass that experience on to my son.

It was a day that was so incredibly easy.

Yes, the rental was a splurge, but the rental company (Astro Jump) did all the setup and tear down and all I added to the day was chips, water and a box of popsicles.  A splurge on memories for our children can easily be extended to our neighbors’ children providing an opportunity to connect and enjoy a little respite from the summer heat.

I certainly am sensitive that not everyone has a few hundred dollars to spend on something like this. I get it. But what would you be willing to spend to bring a few of your neighbors together this summer to create long-lasting childhood memories? What would it cost you dollars, time and energy to coordinate sprinklers, a slip-n-slide or water balloons in your backyard?

If you have young children, these simple things can create the best memories.  And these opportunities of simple summer fun can make big investments to help us “come out ahead” in the long run with our kids.  And, with our neighbors.

Think about doing a backyard water party this summer.  I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you did.

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