Mom, can I have a dollar? How to stop the season-long cash trickle.

It happened every time we went to the rink or the fields. The second my kids spotted the concession stand or the video games, the begging would begin. At one point, I thought my name actually was Mom-Can-I-Have-A-Dollar. Between pretzels and the air hockey table, I was getting soaked for $5-$10 bucks every time we went to a practice or a game. With three kids playing a couple sports each, that’s like an extra ice bill. So here are some tactics we figured out to keep the kids from sucking up every last dollar and learn a little personal responsibility.

Playing field play date
It’s really helpful to have a ready-made rink rat playmate, so call and see if Evan’s little brother is coming to the game today and plan a rink play date. Even if the kids aren’t exactly the same ages, they’ll still have fun together and might actually look forward to hanging out at the games. And they’ll stop bugging you for money.

Keep them occupied
Help your kids pack a bag of things to do while you are at the fields. Let them pick out some crayons or activity books, the Bob the Builder toolkit or whatever transportable toys they like. While you are packing, explain that this is for them to play with at the game instead of the arcade games. My daughter loved to bring her little rolling Hello Kitty bag crammed full of stuffed animals and plastic jewelry. (She will deny this but it’s true. I have witnesses.) Some parents I know keep a bag in the car with special toys just to play with at the rink or fields.  Here are some other ideas.

Think travel
The same things that you take in the car for a long vacation drive work equally as well here. You can add in some other activities depending on your location. For instance, if you’re going to an outdoor practice, bring along an extra ball for the siblings or some bubble juice (and wipes!) or sidewalk chalk.

Hire a junior babysitter
Somebody on the team has to have an older brother or sister that wants to make a couple bucks. Pool your money with other families and hire him or her to keep an eye on your little darlings at the field or rink. It’s a great way to let a young babysitter get some experience and you are close by if anyone needs you. Plus, you can watch the game in peace so you might actually see the super slick pass your player just made or that first goal.  It will cost you a few bucks to pay the babysitter but it’s a better use of the money, in my opinion.

Snack Attack
If it’s snacks they are begging for, you’ve got a couple options. Pack a few in your bag, or find your concession stand limit and stick to it. No snacks at all? One snack? Tell them ahead of time what you’re willing to go for and when. For instance, one pretzel at halftime. Then be prepared to deal with the persistent whining. Like any parenting discipline, when you show you’re really committed and consistent, they eventually follow along. And then keep a close eye on the goal jug money in case someone gets inventive. Yes, it’s happened.

Bring their own money
Boy-oh-boy, it’s really hard to watch your kid blow their birthday money on arcade games and questionable food choices. But get used to it because they are going to college some day. I still have a hard time with some of the spending decisions my kids make (Slurpees and Nerf guns? Really?). But this is a great way to learn money lessons in a controlled environment. Help them figure out a budget and bring a limited amount of money (don’t bring the $20 bill Grandma stuck in their birthday card) for them to spend in their own way. And then let them spend it and don’t give them any more. (See above about persistent whining and sticking to your guns.) It’s amazing how that bubble hockey game isn’t so interesting when it’s their $1 going in the machine and $1.75 for a slushee seems like highway robbery.

That’s how we tamed the “Mom, can I have a dollar” syndrome with our kids. It helps that I’m really mean and impervious to whining. Occasionally, we’ll still spring for a popcorn or bag of Skittles, but it’s a treat now, not expected, and we’ve stopped hemorrhaging money every time we go to a practice or game. Please, share how have you dealt with this because my kids are crafty and they’ll come up with a new tactic any day now.

Flicker Creative Commons credits:
ikrichter, respres, Howard Dickins, GoodnCrazy

2 Comments on “Mom, can I have a dollar? How to stop the season-long cash trickle.”

  1. Karen Morey says:

    I used to think my name was But-mom (more like, but mooooommmmm…… Not sure which is worse

  2. BG Watkins says:

    Been there, done that, would have bought the t-shirt but my kids had all my money. Nice blog!

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