Parenting Perspectives: How the Eiffel Tower + a Pinterest Dream Board cut the “I Wants” from my kids

Parenting Perspectives: How the Eiffel Tower + a Pinterest Dream Board cut the "I Wants" from my kids |

We all want to teach our children the value of a dollar. But the worth of anything in this world is different for each person based on their own personal values.

When I was young, I was with a friend, and we came across a few nickels and pennies. I picked them up, put them in my pocket. She refused. I couldn’t understand why.

“They’re not worth anything. I just throw pennies in the garbage,” she told me.

“What?!? Throw money in the GARBAGE?!”

I was completely flabbergasted. I absolutely could not wrap my head around this scenario. Yes, I understood that you couldn’t even buy a piece of bubblegum for a penny down at the local drugstore. However, I also knew that it was worth something, and saving them couldn’t hurt.

Even at that young age though, I immediately knew that our different attitudes towards these coins were passed down from our parents.

My oldest is a naturally inclined saver. He intrinsically sees the value in delayed gratification if it means a bigger payoff later.

Have one small cookie right now, or wait until after dinner and have a big cookie? He’ll hold out for the biggie.

My middle son is more impulsive. What if he’s not around later to have that big cookie? Better enjoy the small one right now while he can!

So to help steer our children towards the long-term view of saving and spending, we’ve discovered the benefits of a Dream Board.

How the Eiffel Tower helps cut the "I Wants" from kids |

My oldest was learning all about the world this year at preschool. He would come home asking about the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“When are we going to go there, Mama?” he wanted to know.

Well, I didn’t have a real clear answer for that. While my husband and I do dream about some day taking our children to these places, we don’t have a family vacation to France planned any time soon.

But having a visual always helps. So we got on Pinterest and started dreaming.

Walt Disney World. Rhode Island. The St. Louis Arch. Clicked and pinned. Driving through a giant redwood tree. Click. Fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle. Pinned and saved.

How the Eiffel Tower helps cut the "I Wants" from kids |

We then printed out all of our pictures and put them on an actual board to display in our house. It reminds us of our family values and goals for our money. Especially when a store’s cleverly-crafted displays get our brains buzzing for immediate gratification.

“Mama, can we have this Paw Patrol book? Mama, can we get this Lego toy? Mama, can we get, get, get?”

And the inevitable answer is, “No, not today.”

It gets depressing to say “No” all the time, even to myself. So we had a conversation on the way home.

“Here’s the thing,” I explained. “Mama and Daddy think that we already have enough toys and books at home to play with and read. Also, we would rather spend our money on doing fun things together, like going on a trip. But riding on an airplane costs a lot of money. For me, I would rather have fewer things and be able to see the Eiffel Tower instead.”

“How about you?” I asked. “Would you rather buy those toys now, or would you like to take that money and save it for our Dream Board?”

The answer was instantaneous: “Dream Board!”

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

The Dream Board motivation tool has now become my go-to when we need a reminder of our family spending goals. They’ve even used it on me.

“Mama, why don’t we get gas at this gas station by our house?”

“Because they charge more money for the same gas there. It doesn’t cost as much at the other station.”

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “So then we can put the extra money into our Dream Board!”

However, I’m glad to know they’re also learning that sometimes, the present moment just needs to be savored, and we can’t spend our whole lives planning for someday.

“Mama! Can we go to the Dairy Queen?!”

“Well….the Dairy Queen costs money. Would you rather go to the Dairy Queen today, or put that money into our Dream Board account?”


“Dairy Queeeeen!”

And I must say, I agreed.

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It’s been an idyllic summertime experience. It has brought me joy and even made me love my children more, to see them running and laughing and enjoying the simplicity of childhood. When I see the viral posts saying how we need to “give our kids a 1970′s summer” again, I just shake my head. Regardless of the decade, everything we need for a perfect summer is within us.

In a book I was recently reading, the author referenced a Facebook post that was going around a few years ago. In it, Facebook users were prompted to share a list of (somewhat random) things about themselves. Things their closest online friends might not know about them, but maybe should.

The author used it as an opportunity to pull back the facade on her life and be vulnerable with experiences from her past, feelings in her present, and fears of her future that most people didn’t realize about her. It resonated with all who read it, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

It occurred to me that I could make a list for my children. 15 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Me.

When I am laughing with my daughter on the floor as she pretends I’m her baby, watching the joy unfold on my middle son’s face as I “fly” him on my feet, or feeling the comfort of my oldest son’s arms around me at bedtime, sometimes my mind will think, “I should take a picture of this.”