Christmas presents for boys – the day Milin asked Santa for doll

CHristmas present doll

Milin’s Christmas presents (apart from the big one, the LeapPad) are largely themed around trains and firefighters.

Jasmin’s Christmas presents include a doll’s house, a beautiful rag doll, a super-sweet cot for her dolls, a bath for her dolls, and – wait for it –  some new dolls.

(Both are getting books and Duplo and blocks too, I should add.)

As I began sorting through and wrapping the presents last week though, I looked at them all in complete dismay. What happened to the mother who was bringing her son up to be a Feminist? What happened to the mother who promised to defy gender conditioning and bring up her children free from the constraints of social stereotypes? Looking at the presents being wrapped in red and blue paper to differentiate whose was whose without tags (lazy, I know), I certainly wasn’t that mother I’d told the world I was going to be.

Christmas presents girls and boys

 

I stopped and thought about it a little more. At first glance, Milin was getting practical presents and character-themed toys marketed as ‘presents for boys’. Jasmin was getting toys which were marketed as traditional girls toys, designed to appeal to their apparently nurturing nature.

I tried to work out how this had happened. Last year we bought Milin a wooden kitchen for Christmas. He also got a train set and has a tool bench and lots of Lego. Both children play with all of these things. The only thing Milin – until recently – had never showed much interest in was dolls and cuddly toys – so we never got a lot of them. Jasmin, however, has shown an interest in these – and so we’ve bought some more as it’s the one kind of toy we don’t have much of. But is that because Milin hasn’t shown an interest, or because we’ve not nurtured an interest? This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. Really.

I recently found a very old Barbie doll I’d had as a child. Since I discovered it, Milin has decided he adores it. Barbie sleeps in his bed (along with a giraffe, a bunny, a turtle, two teddy bears, and a train). Whatever my thoughts about the body image Barbie promotes – I’m pleased he’s taken to her. What it shows is that there really isn’t any ‘boys toys’ and ‘girls toys’ divide. Kids like what they like. They like toys that spark their imagination (or that they can chew, or undress, or put in boxes).

We will nurture an interest in all toys and all genres of games and books and activities for both of our children. I’m determined about this. So is saying we’ve bought the children the presents they’ve shown the most interest in actually a bit untrue? I’m not convinced.

Milin met Santa last week at the Christmas Wonderland at Springtime Nurseries in Crews Hill. The grotto was full of dinosaurs, animal puzzles, train puzzles, action toys… and Milin asked for a Mermaid Doll. The Santa looked at me in panic. What should he do?

“OF COURSE you can have a doll my darling”. I said it pointedly.

There was no way a man dressed up in a cheap red suit was about to tell my son he couldn’t have a doll for Christmas.

And so, Milin has kept his plastic mermaid by his side ever since. With his second-hand Barbie.

He’s happy, and I’m happy. And maybe I’ve learnt that I should have bought him more dolls for Christmas. At least he can play with Jasmin’s. If she lets him.

And all of that aside – I suppose what I’ve realised is that this idea of perfect gender neutral parenting is a little harder to live up to than it sounds. I without doubt wish to bring my children up without pigeon-holing them into gender stereotypes. I want them to question the assumptions and conditioning that goes on around gender. I want them to ignore the idea of toys and games and clothes for boys and girls. But sometimes, what I am certain are their own choices, make me question whether or not I’m doing as well as I could be.

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Christmas Wonderland, visiting Santa’s Grotto

Taking the Santaland train through Santa’s Grotto with Milin last week was perhaps one of the most magical experiences of my year. We visited the Christmas Wonderland at Springtime Nurseries, Crews Hill, Enfield which has one of the biggest Christmas grottos not in London, but in Europe.

Milin was completely amazed. He really believed we were going to see Santa. For the first time, I understood how completely a little person believes in something.

Jasmin and my dad were with us too as we took in the huge nursery which was full of Christmas-themed wares. We said hello to the reindeer and listened to the Arctic band, and then Jasmin snoozed while Milin and I made our way to the Grotto.

Santa's Grotto, Crews Hill, Londond

As soon as Milin saw the train to Santa Land his face lit up. We travelled on board past the elves who were making presents, past snowmen and polar bears and penguins and festive scemes. Milin was mesmerised.

At the end of our ride, we got off and were ushered into Santa’s room where he sat on his sleigh, surrounded by presents. Milin told him he had been good, so Santa  asked Milin what he wanted. Milin said trains. There weren’t any trains though, so Santa let him choose any toy he wanted from the selection in the room. There were 3D dinosaurs, puzzles, teddy bears – the lot. Milin asked for a mermaid doll.

And so, he took her home and he has played with her and slept with her in his bed every day and night since.

CHristmas present doll

My beautiful boy, who met Santa and came home with a plastic doll – he made my day. I love that he is young enough to not have a cynical mind, that is his trusting enough to believe everything I tell him about Santa – and that he really did meet him. I love that he chose the toy he wanted, not the toy he is meant to have. And I love that for the next week, this excitement about Christmas will continue – and for the next few years, it hopefully won’t abate.

But – enough of our day . Here’s a little video of our trip on the Santa Express through Christmas Wonderland. Look at that excited little face!

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Christmas day outfits – What should I wear?

I have no chance of squeezing in a trip to the shops to buy myself a new Christmas Day outfit this year – but that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming of what I’d like to wear if I had the time and money to treat myself to a little spree. So, I thought I’d share with you a little of what I’d like to be wearing in a week’s time…

At the top of my list would be sparkles. I love sequins and I don’t think they should be saved for the holidays – so I’d put together this outfit from Boden. It sums up my dream Christmas look – classic, but full of glamour. With an easy black tee underneath, I wouldn’t need to wear the cardigan all day, but the shoes would still keep me looking festive – while also being comfy. Win!

Christmas day outfit

On Christmas Eve night, in a world where I still go to parties, I’d go big again on sequins. These dresses are  (from left to right) from Coast, French Connection and Pied A Terre. The French Connection three quarter sleeved dress is possibly the prettiest thing I’ve seen in ages!

sequinned dresses for Christmas Day outfits

 

For Boxing Day, I’d go with something more understated. I’ve got these Boden printed trousers and I love them with a plain navy knit – but for the festive season I’d team them up with an HM jumper with a hint of sparkle, and Dune shoes which still say ‘holiday!’.

Navy and Sparkles for Boxing Day outfit

 

In reality though – I might wear this lovely cord dress in a squirrel print, because it’s comfy and there’s no chance of sequins getting caught in the kids’ hair! It’s not quite as glamour, but unless I get a last minute hankering for sparkle that I can’t resist and have time to shop for – this is likely to be me. What will you be wearing on Christmas Day?

Boden squirrel dress, christmas day outfits

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I can’t be a mum today

I’ve thought this so many times: I can’t be a mum today. Because I only had a few hours sleep, for the 40th night in a row. Because I’m so tired that I just need one day where I don’t have to be awake. Because my patience has been wearing thin and this woman who snaps all day isn’t me. Because I’m becoming someone very far away from the mother I dreamt I would be.

I can’t be a mum today. I’ve thought this so many times. Because I can’t bear to go to playgroup and make small talk about how teething is upsetting naptimes. Because I can’t face the quiet of a whole day that is just me and baby and the hours of waiting for another adult to talk to. Because I don’t want to go through the routine of getting us all into coats and shoes to leave the house when neither baby will even stand up still for me to dress them.

There is the monotony of feeding another bowl of porridge to the baby, while knowing she won’t eat anything else without a fuss all day. There is the monotony of making plain pasta for lunch and plain rice for dinner for my toddler, and of sitting down to these meals and carrying out the same games of distraction. There is the auto-pilot of giving out instructions ‘pick up your bag, finish your water, don’t throw toys at her head’.

There is the haze that is the morning before coffee. There are the heavy limbs and clouded mind. There is the inability to concentrate or talk in full sentences.

I can’t be a mum today. I’m not good enough.

I’ve silently told myself this. Hundreds of times, between the five o clock and six o clock hours, I’ve convinced myself I can’t do it.

And then the children didn’t give me a choice.

They made me be mum today. And every day.

If I think, in the early morning that follows a month of nights without sleep, that I can’t do it, because I’m not good enough, my children have other ideas.

There is no ‘not good enough’ as far as they are concerned. There simply is being mum. Being their mum.

Yes, some days are hard, yes, some days feel like they won’t end, yes there are days when I miss with all of me the person I once was, yes there are days when I’m so lonely because I don’t know quite who this new person is yet. (Is she me?)

But on every day that I think I can’t be mum today, once my children are awake, I’m filled with guilt.

I can be nothing else today. There is nothing else that matters. (And, I know this more every day – for as they grow, I think less, that I can’t do this.)

This is it. The pre-coffee 5am blur. The aching limbs and pelvis which will never feel the same. The jumbled brain which no longer holds space for anything unnecessary to the here and now. The constant juggle that is life and work and home and children.

This is it. Their eyes. Their skin. Their voices. Their movements. They are mine. How dare I think I can’t do this today.

There is nothing else I can do better. There is nothing else I need to do.

They have made me a mother. It doesn’t matter if I think I can’t do this. I can. I do. Today, I can be mum.

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Alternative Christmas gifts for kids

Milin met Santa on Friday at a garden centre in Enfield. (Although Milin, of course, thought that he’d just taken the train to Santa’s house in Santaland.) Santa asked Milin what gifts he wanted for Christmas. Milin said one word:

‘Trains.”

In that moment, my little boy made me realise how wonderfully simple life is when you’re two.

And it also made me realise how little he really needs this Christmas. He will find a few trains under his tree. If they were all that were there, he would be happy. Yet, there will be lots and lots of other things too. He will love them all, because they will all be new and novel. But I also hope there will be a few presents for Milin and Jasmin that won’t be wrapped up. And these are the ones which really count.

I want to give them more time. Not time in which I’m half there and half working, or time in which I’m rushing to get onto the next task. No. I want to give them more undivided time. This isn’t something I can buy on the shelf. But it’s the gift I long for the most for them, and the one that is the most important. It’s the one thing no-one else can make happen but me. So, I’m promising them (not that they’ll understand, but I’m doing it anyway), that there will be more time everyday spent playing with them. There will be more hours of just me and them and toys and the park and games and fun. Somehow, there will be more time.

I want to nag them less too and raise my voice less also. I’ve been hearing that cross, short-tempered voice too much recently. Is it the stress of the season, or the fact that I’ve not slept enough for weeks? Whatever the reason, this gift will come with patience and good humour. The are things I feel guilty to have been lacking recently.

I will be more creative with them too. I’ll find ways around using the television as a baby sitter while I’m ‘getting things done’. I’ll find ways to coax them to eat their meals without resorting to trickery and bribery.

I will find ways to make them stop getting sick for the rest of the winter. This will also help us get more sleep. And, in fact, this would probably be my my best Christmas gift too.

This Christmas, when the children open present after present, I’m going to try and remember the gifts I want to give which aren’t wrapped. I have a feeling Milin and Jasmin will love them just as much as the presents picked off the shelves. Particularly if we’re all getting more sleep.

Father Christmas,

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Buying a house and managing a family budget

We are trying to buy a house. We want a forever home, a place to call ours, a place our little family can grow. We want a place to hang our pictures on the walls, a place where we can paint the living room and change our minds and paint it again, a place where we have our plates in the kitchen cupboards and a place where the kids etch how tall they are on the doorframe.

We have been spending weekends going from one viewing to the next, juggling nap times and exploring new high streets in case we might want to live in the neighbourhood. We’ve been researching new train lines, new bus routes, and new playgrounds. My inbox is full of property alerts, my voicemail is full of calls from agents and a very clever woman called Jo who is helping us with the money side of things.

There has never been a more important time for our little family to get our finances straight. We need to know exactly what is coming in, what needs to go out, and what we want to go out. We’ve always taken our finances seriously though, and we’ve had our eye on a place of our own in London for a long time. So today, I thought I’d share how we are saving for our forever home, and how we manage our family budget. I hope it’s useful – and if you have any amazing family budgeting tips, I’d love to hear them!

managing a family budget, waiting for a family home

But first, my tips for family budgeting and saving for a place of your own….

* Compromise. This is a big one. In fact, this is the single biggest reason we will be able to buy our own home. We have compromised on our own current living space. We moved to London nearly two years ago from New Zealand. We waved goodbye to our own place, and moved in with my parents. It’s meant we don’t have our own space, yes, but it’s also meant we’ve been able to save. Our deposit hasn’t been eaten up by paying expensive rent. Instead, we’ve had time to grow it further and really do our research.

* Know exactly what your incomings and outgoings are. This sounds really simple but many years ago I sat down and drew up exactly what our salaries brought in each month and compared that with how much we spent on bills, essentials and food every month. It gave me a great starting place from which to budget, and it’s a system I’ve used now for years. There is a set amount to spend each month after bills, food, nursery and other essentials have been paid. It’s non-negotiable.

* Save, save, save. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But saving can be the first thing to go when times are hard. We’ve always tried, even through periods of uncertainty or reduced income, to put a little aside. I’ve done a lot of research into different banking products, savings plans and investments, and worked out the ones which best suit our income and savings requirements. We now also save what we can for the children too. We save for the short term too. Things like holidays or Christmas are budgeted and saved for way in advance.

* Listen to good advice. My best financial adviser is my dad who is a shrewd businessman. If I’ve got a money question, I put aside pride and I ask my dad first. Without his advice and foresight, we wouldn’t be able to buy a house.

* Do your research. Using tools like the TSB mortgage calculator  helped us really understand how much we might be able to borrow and how much our mortgage repayments would be. It helped us think realistically about our current and future spending and gave us an excellent idea of how much we would be able to afford to spend. Doing this right at the start meant there was no time wasted (or dreams dashed) by looking at houses out of our budget.

* Don’t blow out on the big things. Some things are really expensive and they suck up your savings. But don’t let them clean you out, and don’t live larger than you can really afford. Tony and I had a small, simple wedding with 70 close friends and family. We made our own invitations, friends gave us a great rate on the catering, my dress was bought off the rack… but it was still the best day ever. We knew when we were planning our wedding that we didn’t want the cost to eat into our savings for a house deposit.

* Play the long game. Tony and I both bought little flats in Wellington almost a decade ago. We had both come into a little money and chose to invest it in property. He has since sold his and we will be putting that money towards our new house.

* Live cheap. Tony has always lived frugally and I try to do the same. Packed lunches, market-bought fruit and veg, bikes for commuting (in NZ – never London!)… our goal has always been to live within our means. I’ve missed out on shoes. And handbags. And I’ve never really made my peace with that!

* Say no to credit where possible. Tony and I only use a credit card to buy things we can pay off at the end of that month. Not having credit cards or debt means our budget can go into paying off a mortgage, not paying off loans.

* Meal planning. I really think this has helped save us a fortune. As has Tony doing the supermarket run instead of me – because I always buy things we don’t need. Online grocery shopping has also meant we don’t overspend on food.

* Accept help. We are in a very fortunate position, and we know that. We’ve had amazing support – both in kind and financial – from my parents. Without them, we might not be buying a house just yet. We never planned to stay with my parents for two years, but actually, it’s been exactly the help we needed for our little family to eventually have a home of our own.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on managing a family budget, whether you’re saving for a home or trying to get back into the black. We’ve not got that forever home yet – so any tips gratefully received!

*This is a sponsored post, but all words and opinions are my own.

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Beegu at artsdepot – a review of kids theatre

Earlier this week, I took Milin and his best friend to see Beegu, a new kids theatre show by dotted line theatre. The show had been co-commissioned by the brilliant North London venue, artsdepot, and so we made our way there on a winter’s afternoon.

I had been a little worried about sitting with a pair of two year olds through a 40 minute show. What if one didn’t like it? What if both played up? I needn’t have worried. They were captivated.

The stage adaptation of Alexis Deacon’s picture book Beegu was, simply, fantastic. The story follows Beegu whose spaceship crashes down on earth. He meets trees and rabbits and seeks out friends. He finds his way to a playground and plays with the school children. It is, in every sense of the word, an intergalactic adventure.

Before the show starts, puppetry is employed by actors to move planets around the theatre. Milin and his bestie had so many questions – mainly, where is the moon. Of course. Milin wanted to know where the astronauts were too.

Once the story unfolded, it didn’t matter that neither knew it already. It’s a simple tale and the production is aimed at 3-8 year olds, but both of these nearly-3-year-olds got it completely. They fell in love with the gorgeous Beegu. They were transfixed by the notion of space travel. And, of course, they were enchanted by the moon.

Beegu is a wordless play, with a slow, gentle pace and beautiful song sung by the four actors. There is some audience interaction (both of my chief reviewers were on their feet and clapping their hands at one point), and the puppetry truly is lovely.

Beegu is another shining example of the value of the artsdepot and similar venues as spaces for children to explore, discover, create and dream. We saw We’re Going on A Bear Hunt there last month, and we are back there next week to watch The Gruffalo’s Child. These are both fantastic offerings, but Beegu proved that new shows are worth investing in. If you get a chance, take your little ones.

Beegu

Beegu – illustration (c) Alexis Deacon, 2003, published in the UK by Random House Children’s Publishers

*We were given tickets to Beegu for the purpose of this review. All opinions are true and my own.

 

Failing as a mother

Before my children were born, I wasn’t prepared to feel like a complete failure as a mother. But every now and then, the feeling hits me somewhere just below my ribs and lingers there like a dull, uncomfortable ache.

I know I’m not a failure. I know I’m not a terrible parent. My children hopefully think, on most days, that I’m kind of doing ok at this.

But they also seem to have this amazing ability to sometimes make me feel like I’ve messed up big-time, like I don’t know what I’m doing, and like I just can’t do anything right.

On the whole, I don’t feel like I’m failing as a mother very often.

But then, there are those moments. And then there are those days when there are lots of those moments. There are the days when Jasmin is so clingy I can’t put her down all day but I can’t seem to make things better either. There are the days when neither of them will eat anything. All day. No matter what I cook, or buy, or don’t offer them. There are the days when no-one got any sleep the night before so everything is twice as hard. There are the days when I can’t do anything right by them. There are the days when I’m told to go away. The days when I’m pinched or snapped at for something I didn’t realise was so awful. The days when asking one of them to put their coat on is the worst thing that could happen ever. The days when we don’t make it out of the door because I couldn’t find the drive. The days when we watch too much tv or have the iPad on for too long. The days when I know I they need me to be there, but I have to leave them for work. The days when everything I do reads like a list of all the things I promised myself I never would…

None of it is my fault or their fault – it’s just the reality of it.

This life is tough. We never feel like we’re getting it all right. But when you have two little people relying on your every move, when you don’t get things right by them, or when they’re tired, or when things aren’t just so – then everything seems worse than it really is.

I’ve largely, I think, made peace with the imperfections of motherhood. I know tantrums can’t always be explained, that on some days you will laugh and laugh and laugh and the hours will fly by too fast and suddenly the children are in bed. And you miss them so much you want to wake them up just for one more cuddle. I know that some days will feel like the longest ever and oh they will drag and nothing you do will entertain the children who just want to be at the playground in the rain anyway. I know that sometimes your cooking will suck and you’ll be too tired to tidy up the toys and you’ll shout at them even though you really didn’t want to.

I know all this, I know this is it.

But, sometimes, it still feels like I’m doing a bit rubbishly. And I shouldn’t be, really, given that I’ve had nearly three years of practicing it every day, every night, every hour, every minute.

And that’s the thing. I guess. There’s no practice run. No preparation. No trial.

This is it. It’s hard and imperfect but it’s also beautiful and the most satisfying, rewarding, important, thing I will ever do.

These two children of mine might make me feel like a spectacular failure of a mother sometimes, but maybe that’s no bad thing. Because if I keep trying to be a little bit better, the two most important people in the world will benefit.

And on those days, in those times when I’m not failing, we will laugh, we will hold each other, and they will know they are so-much-loved.

lying on the sofa watching tv

Homeless at Christmas – the #SlippersforShelter campaign

While our little family opens presents in a warm home, while we sit down to a feast in a kitchen filled with love, 90,000 children in the UK will be homeless this Christmas.

The government figures are heartbreaking.

They put a number on how many children won’t sleep under their own roof, dreaming of presents and reindeers. They put a number on how many children won’t wake up in their own, snuggly bed. They put a number on how many children won’t bounce down the stairs to see what Santa has left under the family tree.

90,000 children. That is three children in every school across the country who will be spending Christmas without a home.

If, like me, you believe children deserve a home at any time of year, please help them this Christmas.

As part of its #SlippersforShelter appeal, Shelter is asking people to donate £2 to help homeless families this festive season. To take part, just wear your slippers to work on December 18, take a footsie and share it using the hashtag, and donate £2 to Shelter. You can find out more information on how to be involved here.

Shelter has launched the appeal as it braces itself for a surge in calls to its helpline, in that hope that donations  help its services cope with the strain this Christmas.

You might have seen the face of the campaign already… it’s Tom.

#SlippersforShelter

 

Tom and his mum Andrea spent last Christmas in a tiny B&B room, sharing a bed. Christmas dinner was a cheap takeaway they ate sat on the floor. There lives have been turned around by Andrea’s call to Shelter. Today, having received help to work through the legal difficulties they faced, they are in a flat closer to Tom’s school and their family and friends.

The situation they had found themselves in is too common. Government figures show that the number of homeless families living in B&Bs has almost doubled in three years. A recent Shelter investigation found that well over half felt unsafe in their temporary accommodation, with parents reporting exposure to drug and alcohol abuse, fighting, swearing and racist language.

The investigation also showed the emotional impact on the children living this way. Over half of the families said their children’s mental or emotional health had been affected, including reports of depression and panic attacks.

Our little family will be wearing #SlippersforShelter on December 18. Please think about how you could help the 90,000 children who will be homeless this Christmas.

#SlippersforShelter

 

Find out more about the #SlippersforShelter campaign here: http://www.shelter.org.uk/slippers, and don’t forget to donate £2 on December 18, while sharing your pictures using the hashtag.

Too Many Christmas Presents

I have always been a little bit too good at consumerism. I got my first Saturday job as soon as I was 16 so I could buy pretty handbags with my wages. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved putting on a new pair of shoes or painting my nails in the latest colour brought out by my favourite brand.

I’ve seen it as a weakness, a character flaw, and something I’m not particularly proud of (I should be cleverer than getting sucked in by the marketing behind a new clothing line, again, etc…) But, I’ve never really minded it too much – this stretching of my budget, this shallow materialism.  I’ve often thought ruefully how much better off I might be if I didn’t convince myself I needed a new dress every month, but the consequences have never really extended beyond my own bank balance.

This Christmas though, I’ve been thinking about things a little differently. I’ve been wondering if it’s time to rein in the spending. It’s not that I spend large sums of money on things I don’t need – the figures aren’t massive and I’m careful never to buy anything I don’t have the cash for. No, it’s not that. It’s more about seeing myself in my children – and feeling rather uncomfortable about it.

Milin, in particular as he is older, has come to expect presents.

I want him to feel excited about the gifts he receives this Christmas and, a week later, on his birthday. I fear he won’t though – because presents aren’t so special around here these days. They’re ordinary, almost.

We don’t have lots of money. The presents aren’t grand. But there seems to be a constant stream of new things pushing the lids of the toy boxes open. There’s always a new train on the track, a new sticker book just picked up at the supermarket checkout, a new car, a new figurine …. It is impossible to walk through our lounge without stepping on Duplo or trains, it is possible to play with a different toy every hour for a month (maybe), and yet, there are still more presents.

In the lead-up to Christmas, a new delivery seems to arrive each day. I know the names of the courier drivers. They know where to leave the parcels. They could probably write my signature for me on the days I answer the door with Jasmin on my hip. They give me a knowing look each time, as if to say, they’re not judging – but do my children really need another present under the tree on Christmas morning? They don’t ask, of course. But we both know what the answer would be.

The children are lovingly doted on and I am beyond grateful for this. They will never want for anything, and for that they are incredibly fortunate. But it’s not just family and friends who spoil them. It’s mainly me. And so, it’s time for me to stop picking up that little something that looks so sweet or that I know Jasmin would love or that Milin might perhaps one day need. I’m not saying I plan to stop buying them anything – but there has to be a more moderate way to buy for your kids. And, not only will it do no end of good for our bank statements, but it should do much, much more…

I want my children to feel gratitude when they are gifted things. I want them to appreciate how lucky they are, and how kind people are. I wan’t them too know the value of ‘stuff’, and to know that that ‘stuff’ won’t forever fall in their lap. If I don’t buy another present in the next three weeks, I still know that on Christmas morning they will have too many gifts to take them all in. I know they are too young to know that they are spoilt, but I don’t believe Milin is too young to understand that presents aren’t something to expect as a right.

I don’t wish to boycott toy stores for the next year or stop spending completely or donate every single last toy to charity. I’m not about to blame the plethora of cheap toys readily available and in our faces every time we leave the house. The scenario we have reached is all my own doing. So I do want to try and check the spending on myself and my children. I want to get back a bit of that ‘specialness’ that should be reserved for Christmas morning. I want my children to grow up knowing that ‘things’ aren’t the most important thing in life. Our little family will be together on Christmas morning, we will all be healthy. We will all know we are so-much-loved. I want my children to know that’s what matters.

Girl in front of Christmas tree