Encouraging Simple Pleasures
by Doris Ohlmann
A whisper in my ear awoke me from my slumber. “Don’t come downstairs, mom,” my son said. I opened one eye in answer. “I’m going to make you a surprise breakfast!” he continued.
“Mmm,” I acknowledged. He tiptoed away then and I snuggled under the blankets again yet listening for the clatter of dishes, tinkle of glass, or rustle of crisped cereal.
Another whisper drew me back from the brink of dreamland. “Okay, you can come down now,” my son invited. Despite my usual self-inflicted routine not to eat in the morning until I had showered and dressed and actually assumed the poise of a wide-eyed awake parent, I smiled and accepted his outstretched hand to lead me downstairs.
As we descended the steps, a tentative smile teased his nine-year-old face. My raised eyebrows and twinkling eyes offered encouragement. On the kitchen table, a bowl of snap, crackle and pop and a saucer with two pieces of toast — not burnt but engraved with two loving messages, “Good morning” and “I love you” made with cookie cutters — lay on a flower-patterned placement.
My son stood proud and silent beside me while I took my first bite. Cereal without sugar never tasted so sweet, and cold, dry toast never as fresh and golden. Although my morning hunger is usually subdued, this morning it was elevated to the anticipation of feast-laden tables of banquet halls and gourmet smorgasbords. My child had traded places with me and posed as a parent caring for a child — his thoughtful act remarkably consistent with a parent’s natural instincts to nurture and comfort. I was enriched by his simple offerings and his satisfied grin at my gratitude was a gift wrapped in the simple pleasures of parenthood and tied with a child’s love.
This simple act of kindness prompted me to think of other ways that such simple pleasures could be enjoyed. Coupons, I thought! I don’t mean those coupons you tuck into your pocket or purse and forget to use at the grocery store for that item that you wouldn’t often buy unless
it’s on sale. I’m talking about those chits your children — okay, even your tweens — have lovingly created for you over the years and popped into a card to celebrate a special occasion. You know, the hand-drawn facsimiles of miniature personalized gift certificates that offer enumerable favours that will make your life easier or happier.
Personalized coupons or gift certificates make great gift ideas, especially for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or for just any day you want to surprise someone with a special gift. They can also be used to take turns with the responsibilities around the house. Remember, keep it fun. Don’t use these coupons all for chore-type activities. Include fun activities as well, such as a spontaneous night out, a pizza party, a homemade spa treatment, a footlong sub night, a pick-the-movie-ofyour- choice night, a special ice cream sundae, an afternoon in the park, an
extra big hug, etcetera.
Here are some examples:
“This coupon entitles (insert recipient’s name) to join (insert name of giver) in sharing a delicious ice cream sundae. (Made by giver, of course!)” Now who wouldn’t want to receive this one? Actually both the giver and recipient win here because they get to share the delicious treat.
“This coupon guarantees that (insert name of giver) will play one board game or game of cards with (insert recipient’s name).” This coupon can be modified many times over so everyone can choose a different game each time and every game in the games cupboard can be played at least
“This coupon signifies that (insert giver’s name) will promise to walk the dog two times this week without being asked.” Remember the first (and the second, and the third) time your child actually remembered to perform their daily or weekly chore without being asked, harassed, or reminded for the umpteenth time? This coupon may perhaps help with that reminder since it’s their idea to start with and then maybe, just maybe, it will become a habit that you want to
“This coupon entitles (insert recipient’s name) to have breakfast in bed prepared and served by (insert giver’s name).” This is a good one that can become a tradition for families for special occasions. (Hint: birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day.)
“This coupon, presented to (insert recipient’s name), ensures that (insert giver’s name) will wash the dishes two nights this week, even if it’s not my turn!” Again, helping children and even adults realize that the home runs more smoothly when everyone helps out is always a positive idea. Trading jobs can often instil a new sense of accomplishment even in the most stubborn tween.
Okay, we all know we (read “Mom” here) wants to be the recipient of these fabulous coupons, but let’s share a little. After all, the point is to share these acts of kindness with as many people as possible. So have Sister give one to Brother, Son present one to Dad, Mom place one on Daughter’s pillow, Father tuck one into Junior’s lunch kit — you get the idea.
One warning: Don’t accept the coupon and then tuck it away in a drawer and forget to have it honoured. Why would you want to miss out on such wonderful “me” time — oh, I meant “family” time, of course.
Happy coupon days!
Doris Ohlmann a mother of two and a writer and editor from Carleton Place.
Advantages of Using Personalized Coupons
• Promotes family time, spending time with children, parent-child interaction, positive sibling interaction.
• Promotes generosity.
• Promotes sharing.
• Promotes taking turns.
• Promotes responsibility.
• Encourages trying new things like cooking, etcetera.
• Encourages finding pleasure in simple things.
To make your own custom I.O.U.s or coupons, check out www.dltk-cards.com. Themes
Special occasions Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Birthdays, Mother-son outing, Father daughter outing, etcetera.
• Helping with chores inside the house (e.g., cooking, dusting, laundry, vacuuming, dishes, etcetera).
• Helping with chores outside the house (e.g., gardening, golf club cleaning, washing vehicles, cutting the lawn, picnic, shovelling snow, raking leaves, etcetera).
• Baby-sitting services.
• Cook a favourite meal.
• Bake a favourite dessert.
• Give the biggest piece of cake, brownie, steak, etcetera.