Life Lessons From Our “Lemonade Stand”

posted by Andrea | 08/8/2018

For the past 2 summers, Nora has begged me (daily) to have a lemonade stand at the end of our driveway.

Last summer, I told her she had to wait at least a year so she could actually do the math to give people change.

This summer, she can do the math… so I had to come up with more creative reasons why we shouldn’t/couldn’t do a lemonade stand.

  • It’s too much work
  • Our street is not a good street for it
  • It’s not going to be “fun” to stand out in the sun
  • You can’t play — you have to stay at the stand and hold the sign
  • You might not make much money

But alas, I couldn’t persuade her to give up her pipe dream of a lemonade stand… especially since she officially put it on our Summer Fun List this year… so we HAVE to do it.

What can I say… she’s persistent! 🙂

Last week, we decided we would do a stand on Monday afternoon — but we weren’t going to do lemonade. We would sell freeze-pops, bags of candy, cucumbers, summer squash, and spaghetti squash.

Within minutes of deciding this, Nora was immediately coming up with plans for the sale:

  • we should put the candy in bags — 10 pieces to a bag; $0.25 for each bag
  • we needed to make signs to hold
  • we needed a price sheet so everyone would know the cost of each item
  • we needed the toy cash register with extra money inside to give people change
  • we needed a trash can and scissors for the freeze pops

She even came down after she went to bed Sunday night to tell me a couple more details for the sale. 🙂

I had a feeling the sale would not be successful. I had a feeling it would be a “waste” of my time to sit out there with the kids in the hot sun. I had a feeling they wouldn’t sell much of anything… but I went through the motions to set everything up on Monday afternoon.

I even posted pictures to my personal Facebook account so local friends and family would know about our sale in case they were driving close to our house.

We opened shop at 1:00pm, and by 1:15 the kids were already wondering what was taking so long, why no one was coming, how much longer we had to sit out there and wait, etc. etc.

We lasted just over 2 hours and got a whopping 4 sales (it was honestly even worse than I thought it would be!) and although the kids were fairly disappointed, I realized the afternoon wasn’t a total waste because we all learned several life lessons.

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1. Life is not always fair.

Dave and I regularly respond to our children’s complaints by saying, “life isn’t always fair”… and then going on to explain that life will go on even though their sibling got 5 grapes and they only got 4! 😉

No, it wasn’t fair that we spent a large chunk of time preparing for our sale but hardly made any money.

No, it’s not fair that some of our friends have had very successful lemonade stands but we didn’t.

No, it wasn’t fair that only ONE of our neighbors stopped by (even though several others were outside at various times).

None of these things are fair… but life isn’t always fair. The sooner they realize this, the better!

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2. We need to follow through, even if it’s not fun.

Our plan was to keep the stand open for 2 hours — but after the first 15 minutes, I honestly wasn’t sure we’d make it.

They were bored. They just wanted to eat the candy and freeze pops. They wanted to go play with their friends. They wanted to go back inside because they were hot (we had an umbrella for shade!)

I did let James go inside with Dave and Clara because the stand really wasn’t his idea anyway, but I made Nora and Simon stick it out for the full 2 hours.

Can you see how excited they are!

Everything we do does not have to be fun — in fact, many things we do will not be fun, but we do them anyway (because life isn’t fair… right!)

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3. Looks can be deceiving.

There were countless moms with kids who drove past our stand without giving us a second look; and Nora was SO shocked that all our neighbors didn’t immediately flock to our stand.

But then, totally out of the blue, a hot-rod car pulled into our driveway and big muscular guy with tattoos all over his arms got out. The kids instantly walked closer to me and hardly made eye contact with the guy.

Surprisingly, he pulled out his wallet and bought one of everything we were selling! He was our best customer of the day and SO nice to the kids.

They were super excited to tell Dave about “the guy with tattoos”… and I was super excited to use that as an example of why we should not judge people based on what they look like.

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4. Trial and error is a really good way to learn.

This lesson is mostly for me, but it’s still worth sharing!

I know trial and error is a fantastic way to learn — in fact, it has always been one of the best ways for me to learn anything. That said, it’s more difficult than I thought it would be to let my children fail at something that is within my control (tell me I’m not the only one!)

However, if I wouldn’t have let them do this stand, they would have continued to ask about it day after day, week after week, all summer long. I could tell them over and over that it wouldn’t be fun or successful, but until they actually realized it themselves, they wouldn’t have believed me.

Now, I can safely say that I don’t think they’ll be asking me to set up a lemonade stand for them any time soon!

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Our freeze-pop, candy, squash, cucumber stand wasn’t all that fun, and only made us about $7 (which we used to go bowling the next day) but I suppose we all learned quite a bit in the process.

I suppose our afternoon wasn’t totally ‘wasted’ after all!

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42 comments

  1. Cathy Howell

    08/10/2018

    This is a hard thing to do with kids cuz they all want to earn money. I am a grandma now so I don’t have to worry about it as much. But when I see a stand I always stop and pay extra. In fact we bought a .50 lemonade in Rocks Springs while on vacation for $5. the little girl was so excited. I love to see there little faces light up
    Good luck and keep up the good work!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    awwww… such a nice grandma! We needed a few of those at our stand last week 🙂

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  2. Jennifer

    08/09/2018

    I have never stopped at a kids’ lemonade stand. I also have never let my kids have one, for same reasons you mentioned here! I am impressed you made them stick it out two hours. And you stuck it out with them.

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    Andrea Reply:

    The 2 hours went fairly quickly as a neighbor girl came over to “help” for part of it and we were “dancing” out front with our signs to drum up more business (clearly the dancing didn’t work!)

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  3. Katie

    08/09/2018

    Our lemonade stand is slated for Saturday and I have resisted for all the reasons you mentioned. We are doing it with the two kids next door and my 3 are sooo excited. Pretty sure we will not be busy but the fun of planning by the kids has been a great use of their time. Including a free cookie for the 25th customer – they are ambitious! As for me I agree the upside of doing it far outweighs the constant asking.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — good luck! Hope all goes well and they make many sales!

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  4. Christina M

    08/08/2018

    And the lesson your lemonade stand taught me is to never pass a lemonade stand again without buying something. I’m so sorry that your children didn’t have a better experience! (But way to turn lemons into lemonade. 😉 Corny, but I couldn’t help it! 🙂

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    Trina Reply:

    I love this and think the same! Makes me kick myself for the times I didn’t stop at some one else’s stand because I was too busy. Trina

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    Andrea Reply:

    we all do it! I will definitley take more time to stop now though. I know how excited my kids would have been if even 2 or 3 cars had stopped!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, lemons into lemonade 🙂

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  5. Connie

    08/08/2018

    Andrea,
    I’ve been following your blog for the past six years. I check in daily…and I’m never disappointed. What a great mother you are. I love that you have God at the center of your family and that you are raising your children with values, discipline and a whole lot of love. God bless you and Dave and those four precious babies.
    Connie

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Connie!

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  6. Mary

    08/08/2018

    Yesterday morning Jeff Bezos mom was on public radio talking about the value in children failing or at least things not turning out as well as they expect. She signed him up for football even knowing he wouldn’t be good at it since he typically only wanted to do what he was good at. Good experience taking risks.

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  7. Charyse Harvey

    08/08/2018

    Our older girls would have a lemonade stand every year with friends and the neighbors were always so good to stop. It surprised me and reminded me to do the same! Now we live in the country and our 2 younger were always begging to have a stand. Finally I let them set one up for their older siblings who were returning from work, hot and tired after a long day! They continued for about a week with a different snack each day and thier siblings paid them well as they didn’t have to fix it themselves! ☺

    This summer, after the county fair, the younger wanted to set up a food stand like at the fair, just for our family. They had a sub sandwich day where we picked our toppings and watched them make the sandwiah, just like Subway. Last night we could have buffet or just a “meal deal” with the food they made. They decide the menu, make and clean it all up, and we pay a little, plus tip depending on service! Dad teases that he has to buy the food and then pay to eat it, but it’s been a fun learning experience for them and has given me time to get a couple more projects done before school starts! It’s a win/win for every one, every once in awhile! They don’t ask to do it often as it’s a lot of work. Of course they are a lot older than your kiddos, Andrea! They’re 12 and 7. ☺

    Lots of good life lessons to be learned! Always enjoy your posts! So practical and encouraging! Enjoy your last bit of Summer! You’re doing a terrific job with your little tribe! ☺

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is great — thanks for sharing Charyse I might have to keep these ideas in mind for a few years down the road.

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    Christina M Reply:

    I love this idea! I’m definitely going to have to remember it for when my kiddos are older. We live in the country, also. A traditional lemonade stand is definitely not possible.

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  8. Pamela Wade

    08/08/2018

    I must be feeling really emotional this morning….I laughed and also cried while reading your post! Your kids are so cute and the stand and everything was adorable! I don’t know how anyone could pass them by! And I cried when the tattoo guy stopped by…..what a nice guy! Yes, we should never judge anyone by the way they look! I go to a lot of yard sales and try to buy from the little kids selling lemonade or cookies because it does make their day! Loved this post! ~~Pam

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha… the tattoo guy was really sweet.

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  9. Nancy

    08/08/2018

    I stopped to buy lemonade a few days ago from some kids, following my husband’s example of “always try to support kids working to earn”. Their mom was there, watching, but the theee kids did all the work interacting with and serving their customer. So far, so good. But they only gave me half of a solo cup for $1. And WOW, it was the worst lemonade ever! I think they must have really diluted it to stretch their supplies. Back to lesson #1: life isn’t always fair! Ha!

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    Andrea Reply:

    bummer… that’s expensive lemonade!
    I thought our freeze pops for $0.25 would be a big hit… I guess not!

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  10. Michelle

    08/08/2018

    This post made me giggle and roll my lip down in sadness for them too.

    We passed by a lemonade stand not too long ago and it frustrated me that I didn’t have any cash on me. I’ve gotta stash a few dollars in the back of my wallet for instances such as these.

    Such a cute set-up with cute little kiddos. I absolutely loved Nora’s enthusiasm and her thought process. She’s going to do great things.

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  11. Laura

    08/08/2018

    My kids have BEGGED me to do a lemonade stand for years now, but I kept putting it off for many of the same reasons as you, the biggest reason that we live on a dead end street with virtually NO traffic and our neighbors are mostly all elderly (we live in an association).

    But a few weeks ago I decided to say yes. It was a HOT day and we only had a few customers (thanks, construction workers!). We didn’t stay out nearly as long as you did but at least my kids aren’t asking about it anymore. And I learned the same lesson Lorrie mentioned – always stop when you see kids selling something as it will make their day!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know… I think I’ll always stop from now on!

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  12. Shelley

    08/08/2018

    Thank you for sharing this! I live in the UK so lemonade stands aren’t all that common, but I do remember taking all my old toys to a jumble sale (kind of like a garage sale but all the neighbours have stands in one place like a car park or church hall). I thought I’d make a fortune but it was just a long old day like yours!
    I loved reading about the guy with the tattoos! How kind of him to stop, and lovely that you spoke to the kids about it afterwards. Hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes the “tattoo man” was amazing. I have a feeling my kids will remember him for a while!

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  13. JJ

    08/08/2018

    When my brother and I were young(elementary age), we asked my mom if we could make a lemonade stand. She stuck us out on a medium that was in the middle of the street perpendicular to our home. We were two kids alone trying to make some money. Haha! One lady in a huge van drove up, stopped, and threw a dollar bill out at us. We felt rich. Haha! That was our first and last stand.

    Maybe for Nora’s birthday as part of her present instead of cards, people could use the money they would use to buy her a card to “buy” something from her “bake sale”/lemonade stand set up inside your comfy house. Haha!

    And I love “life is not fair. ” My husband always says, “Fair doesn’t always mean equal.”

    I love this post, because I am a first-born and often struggle when my kids aren’t all happy and good with things. What a great reminder to help them work through things and teach good character lessons!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    LOVE the birthday party baked-good stand! I might have to implement this somehow!

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  14. Rhonda

    08/08/2018

    That’s pretty funny. My 7 year old “persisted” in wanting a lemonade stand also. We live in the country, and it’s not really practical to stop on our road (nor do we get many passersby). I let her take her cardboard stand to town to her grandparents house. I think she did it for a while for a day or two, and has now also realized that it wasn’t that profitable or fun.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good for you for letting her do it though! and good idea to do it at the grandparents house!

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  15. Kim

    08/08/2018

    Good job, Mom! Looks like you made lemonade out of lemons.

    [Reply]

    Kim Reply:

    Seriously though, one of my favorite quotes is, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” I don’t know who originally said this, but it is something I have to remind my perfectionist self over and over.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh, that’s a great quote! Thanks for sharing Kim!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — sort of 🙂

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  16. Amy Owen

    08/08/2018

    And yes – I agree wth Lorrie’s comment! I should always stop and buy from any kids’ stand.

    Your set-up was adorable. I can’t believe you only got four customers. And I love that the tattoo guy bought one of everything!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know, we were bummed that we only got 4 customers 🙁

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  17. Marcia C.

    08/08/2018

    The kids certainly learned a lot by doing this! I’m glad that the kids followed through with the stand (and James got to go in because it wasn’t his idea-) I’m a retired teacher and see that they learned many things by doing this! You’re right–life isn’t always fun or fair!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, they learned a lot — and they haven’t asked to set up a stand once since then (before, they asked daily!)

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    Erin M Reply:

    Ha!

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  18. Amy Owen

    08/08/2018

    Nora and James’s “sad” faces in that one photo cracked me up!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know!

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  19. Lorrie

    08/08/2018

    Lesson #5 (for the rest of us)… stop and buy something next time we see a child with a lemonade stand!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES! I literally almost typed “Lesson #5: Always stop when you see kids selling something!” but I didn’t… because it’s not really a “life lesson” but you could definitely make some kids’ days by stopping.
    I’ll certainly think more about stopping when I see kids selling things now 🙂

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