Let me take you back in time for a moment… It’s a few weeks before Christmas; you’re doing battle with the other parents on the high street, all determined to snag that perfect present for their children. After elbowing the competition to the floor you finally get your hands on the last “Doctor Who Personalise Your Sonic Screwdriver Set” or “Transformers Ultimate Optimus Prime”. The credit card takes the hit but at least you’ve scored one of those elusive gems on the Hamleys’ Top Ten Christmas Toy list!
After realising you’ve run out of wrapping paper and making a last minute dash to the local supermarket packed to the brim with Christmas food shoppers, you wrap up the all important gift with plenty of love in every piece of sellotape.
Christmas morning dawns. Your child tears off the wrapping paper of their new favourite thing. It was all worth it! Making yourself a celebratory coffee, you re-enter the room to see the new plaything discarded and your child, who is now far more interested in the prospect of creating a spaceship out of its packaging!
Okay, this tale of woe might be a bit of an exaggeration! But I do wonder if we place so much importance on buying the right gift that we’ve forgotten that a cardboard box and a child’s imagination could be more entertaining than even the most stimulating creations the toy companies can come up with. In my own experiece, when children are showered with too many toys, they often become overwhelmed, lose interest quickly and jump from one toy to the next.
It’s obvious that being bombarded with too many toys is a recipe for short attention spans. But then who are we to criticise? Aren’t we exactly the same? With so many gadgets on the market many adults are always on the lookout for the next coolest thing to play with.
It seems a strange concept to me that we spend so much money on a present that our young children will be interested in for a short period, before tossing it away as casually as we’d throw out the rubbish.
Our lives seem to be constantly busy, so for me a greater gift for James than the latest and greatest toy is simply to spend some quality time together. That could involve playing a board game or putting our creative heads together to craft something magical. It could involve choosing a good DVD to watch together while we roast chestnuts in the fire. It’s about making memories, instead of creating a roomful of rarely-played-with toys.
I don’t doubt there will be some expensive presents for James in the future. Thank goodness for eBay when he gets bored of them is all I can say! But as a family I intend to maintain some form of moderation when his next birthday rolls around.
(As always, if you want to share your stories, feel free to comment on this and any other post.)