Children can be very demanding
As every parent knows, shopping with young children can quickly turn into a nightmare, and with no concept of money, budget or life's essentials, it is a hard lesson to learn that they can't always have what they want.
As the children grow, shopping does become a bit easier as sullen moods replace embarrassing tantrums, but the requests and demands are still there, fuelled by TV commercials and peer pressure to conform to fashion.
Christmas and birthdays can be especially challenging times for parents. Surely every good parent has a duty to somehow provide all those special toys on Santa's list? With children receiving hundreds of pounds worth of gifts every year, I really start to question...
How much stuff does one child really need?
In a society driven by consumerism, how do we teach our kids that they don't actually need all that stuff? How do we explain that the latest toy is not as great as the advertisers want you to believe? Can you bring a child up with different values without subjecting them to bullying and social isolation? Is it ok to be different?
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Firstly, children learn from their parents
If they see mum or dad watching tv, an iPad in one hand and mobile phone balanced on the armrest it's not going to be long before they are demanding gadgets of their own. If parents are constantly shopping and follow the latest fashions or talking about what they want or 'need', then it's likely the kids will follow suit. We need to lead by example. It's time to lay the technology aside and learn to play. It's time to be happy with what we have and forget about what we could have.
Secondly, chose your gifts wisely
Forget Christmas lists and start getting to know your kids, spending time playing together. Help your child discover their own individual identity by focusing on what they like to do and what they enjoy. Encourage their interests through the gifts you give.
Thirdly, make happy memories without 'stuff'
To be honest, I really can't remember many of the gifts I received as a child. Toys get broken, outgrown and quickly abandoned and forgotten. Memories stick with us for a very long time. I hope my children will grow up remembering building dens in the woods and swimming in the sea or spending time with family and friends.
Christmas is a great opportunity to spend time together getting to know your children. It doesn't have to be about how many toys you can get or who has the best gadgets. Use this time of gift giving to challenge your own lifestyle and think about what example you are teaching your family. What do they really want or need from us?
Forget the presents and focus on making those special memories together
Spending time with children is so much more important than how much money we spend or what we have. It really is ok to be different.
Guest blog by Susan Lee For Rain-shine – the award winning family business providing waterproof clothing to allow children to play outside come Rain or Shine!
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