I think Disneyland was worth it. Oh, it was great fun for the whole family and a fantastic experience but I cannot really say whether it was worth it because I don’t know what ‘it’ (the cost) actually is, because the bill for that trip was just gleefully thrown onto the mortgage. I expect I will still be paying for that holiday well into my 60s, by which time, with interest, every burger we ate on that trip will end up costing me about $35. Our trip to the USA rates as one of our Top 10 family memories but here is the thing – the other nine of those Top 10 did not cost much at all, if anything.

Letting the kids jump into piles of autumn leaves cost me nothing except the patience to rake them all up again. If Disneyland had a place where you could throw your four year old into a big pile of leaves I might take out another mortgage and go back – except I don’t have to! The trees provided it for nothing right in our own backyard. (The only real difference is that the Disney staff would probably check that the rake wasn’t still sitting in the pile of leaves).

A breakfast picnic early on a Saturday morning down at the beach cost me nothing more than some sausages, some planning and a Saturday morning sleep-in – and who gets to sleep in with little kids anyway? Everyone has picnics, but there is something extra special about a summer morning on an uncrowded beach. Those coin-operated public barbecues in parks are fine – just remember to take something to scrape a year’s grease off the hot plate.

One more no-cost memory-maker to do with your kids – harvest a few dozen plumes from a roadside toetoe or pampas bush and decorate your car. They can be jammed in anything that opens-and-closes and they make your car look like a parade float. I remember driving back through our suburb with the kids grinning away, really hoping that someone they knew would see us!

I hope you get to go to Disneyland – it is wonderful. But do not worry if you do not because great childhoods are more like a kaleidoscope of tiny bright fragments than a string of high-priced jewels.


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The Parenting Place is delighted to partner with Sentinel Homes to bring you this campaign dedicated to Kiwi mums and dads enjoying their parenting and home life that much more. Enjoy the Little Things is about taking time to appreciate your children in the small moments as well as the big ones. Many of these occur in the home itself – sitting in the lounge deciding what Saturday night movie to put on, staying an extra couple of minutes after they’ve fallen asleep, making pancakes in funny shapes and laughing together about it – and we love celebrating them all. Thanks, Sentinel Homes, for partnering with us.

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About Author

John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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