I don’t make a habit of buying lottery tickets, but any time the Mega Millions stories start hitting the airwaves, as they have these past few days with announcements of the $355 Mega Millions jackpot winners coming out, I can’t help but play the game in my head. You know, that fantasy where you lie in bed at night and think: “Hmmm … what if I won the lottery? What would I do with all that money?” I proceed to divvy it up in my head: A certain amount would go to family/friends, college tuitions, the mortgage, a car payment, and charity. And then … That’s where things start to get interesting … I wonder: How would we live our lives if money were no object? Would things change drastically, or would we essentially live our lives the way we do now, with a few extra conveniences? And now that we’re parents: how would it change the way we parent our kids?
I took an informal poll of some friends to get their responses. Overwhelmingly, their thoughts echoed my own: We wouldn’t really change much at all. No one would be running out to buy the McMansion. The common thread among all of my friends was the stress that would (theoretically) be removed from their lives, and the ability it would give them to do more for their kids. They said things like:
“It wouldn’t change my values, but it would change what we did and how we did it. For example, we would travel more.”
“It would only change in the sense that I might be more relaxed about money and so less uptight about big tuition bills and making sure I worked all the time. I might be a more relaxed mommy. I might also hire someone to braid my daughter’s hair every morning.”
“I would feel even more free to spend time with my daughter and only take plum job assignments, and I’d buy a bigger home with outdoor space!”
“[My wife] would be a stay-at-home mom, but other than that probably nothing would change. Maybe we’d buy a swagger wagon … nah!”
“I would get a housekeeper so that I could spend more time doing fun things with my kids.”
“I’d like to think it wouldn’t change the way I parent. You always hear how people win the lottery and then their lives fall apart. I would still feel that it’s really important for kids to pick their clothes up off the floor and say please and thank you and not have some strange dilettante kind of lifestyle. I would still expect chores to be done, and for the kids to complain about doing them.”
“I love the idea of having huge sums of money so we could stop working and do what we love doing—art, gardening, traveling. We would keep our lives simple and use that money to make sure college education would be paid.”
“The only thing that would change would be the stress of having to juggle work and parenting. How amazing would it be to suddenly be able to just focus on my kids?”
“I would expose them to more cultural experiences that I dream about, but can’t afford. Broadway shows, piano/harp lessons, foreign language, travel, flying lessons, scuba diving, safari’s etc. We do do a lot now, but nothing compared to what we could do (experience) if money was no issue.”
It’s interesting what this all says about my own tiny little circle of parents, and I’m guessing a large majority of the parents reading this: None of us would really change much about the way we live our lives. We could all use a little less stress, and a lot more unpressured, undivided time with our kids and families. But really, at the end of the day, this just goes to show that we’re essentially already living the lives we want to live, and we’re essentially already exposing our children to the best things in life.
Still, with all those college tuitions looming ahead, maybe we do need to start playing the lottery?
What do you think? Would winning the mega million jackpot change the way you parent?