When my children were young and I had no money whatsoever, I would feed the kids a full lunch at home. Then I would go to Chuck-E-Cheese. When the children walked through the door, each child was given one free coin. (I’m not sure if they do this any more.) I had my children come to a table, where we pooled all our coins. Then I would give one coin to the children. I said, “Choose a ride that you all want to go on, and get on. Then put the coin in.” I sat with my baby while the other three children walked around and weighed the pros and cons of each ride. They discussed with each other which ride they wanted to go on, and then they enjoyed the ride.
When the first ride was over, they would come back for the second coin, and on it went. Believe it or not, my children went on more than four rides. It was more like ten rides. How, you ask? I huddled the children together and showed them how other children would put coins into the rides, then walk away, not valuing the coin because they had so many. I told them to keep an eye out for empty rides that were still going. “Hop on and enjoy it!” I said. So my children rode on those free rides in between the four rides which we bought with our four free coins. When we were out of coins, the children played on the play structures. They had a fabulous time. It cost us absolutely nothing.
Other times, my husband found coupons for $20 worth of coins for $10. So we would get the coins, divide them in half, and use half the coins one evening. A couple of weeks later, we would come back as a family, and we would use the other half of the coins.
Now that our family is slightly better off, we go ahead and get the overpriced pizza and hot wings, because we want to reward Chuck-E-Cheese for all the times we played without buying anything. But even the $10 we spent for two nights was still a $10 profit to them. (Whenever I wasn’t buying anything, I would go during the off-hours so that other people would not see an empty Chuck-E-Cheese, because that looks bad for business.) We now use Chuck-E-Cheese as a reward whenever our kid swims across the swimming pool for the first time, or when they pull out a loose tooth that hurts.
Most children are too bratty to go without coins. They would just throw fits. But my young children expected nothing, so they were grateful for whatever coins they were given, and they were always careful with their coins. Later when they were older and had lots of coins, they still consulted their siblings and would ride rides together to maximize their money.Tweet