Please Don't Give My Kids Birthday Presents Blog Post - Presents

Please Don’t Give My Kids Birthday Presents

Please Don't Give My Kids Birthday Presents Blog Post - Presents

Mama Plea

You – yes, you. And you. And you. Birthday party invitees, school friend’s parents, the general population. Everyone who reads this who is not a close family member or part of a very small circle of friends (you know who you are) …this is my plea to you:

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

There I have said it. In the most straightforward way I possibly can. Direct? Tick. Simple? Tick. Offensive? Hopefully not.

 

Assumption Free

Look, I am not making any presumptions about your taste, financial situation or quality of your present. We are very grateful for the generous gifts our kids have received in the past. I am not trying to insult anyone here. But this year, for a change, I would respectfully request:

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

 

The Good Side of Boredom

Having too much stuff in childhood has been linked to overwhelm, a lack of curiosity and perseverance and sometimes even mental health issues.

Having less stuff as a child is correlated with improved imagination, cultivating an ability to deeply play (get in flow), deal with boredom in creative ways, and to discover and independently pursue their own interests.

Yes, boredom is not something to be avoided, but to actually ensure happens occasionally. I want my children to be bored, so I am respectfully asking you:

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

 

Toys Galore

I had one Barbie doll for my whole childhood. My daughter is not three yet and she has 14 Barbie dolls. Admittedly, these were not all gifts, some were hand-me-downs, but 14!! We had no Lego growing up. My son has four good-sized plastic boxes of Lego and he is not even six years old.

Between the two of them, they have dozens of toy cars, sackfuls of soft toys, hundreds of books, plus puzzles, plastic animals, blocks and enough train track to cover the lounge and right up the hallway into the bedrooms. They also have a lot of outside toys like balls and bikes.

Despite this, for a considerable period of time over the past weekend they took turns hiding in a large cardboard box. So…

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

 

No Downsides

Once we all get over a little social awkwardness at my incredible appeal, we can probably all agree that there are no downsides to this plea. I don’t have to pick up as many toys, my kids will grow into happy and healthy adults and the planet, with less stuff cluttering it up, will live to see another day. So, for the final time, I am imploring you:

Please don’t give my kids birthday presents.

 

 

Other Articles

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/80155246/the-tyranny-and-expense-of-modern-childrens-birthday-parties

https://raisedgood.com/extraordinary-things-happen-when-we-simplify-childhood/

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_happens_when_we_shield_kids_from_boredom

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/bunmi-laditan/im-done-making-my-kids-childhood-magical_b_5062838.html

Please Don't Give My Kids Birthday Presents Blog Post - D and E Mar18

 

 

Parenting is NEVER Boring Blog Post - Sleeping Child

Parenting is NEVER Boring

Parenting is NEVER Boring Blog Post - Bedside Lamp

 

The Three D’s

I love it when my children are tucked up in bed fast asleep. They look so peaceful, so beautiful, so scrumptiously soft and warm. And there is added bonus that in their current state they are unlikely to climb up the pantry shelves to the cookies, inexplicably demand breakfast in another bowl or get dressed in a new swimsuit to wear to daycare. All situations that have not just occurred in our household but happened today.

I just do not comprehend it when parents say they find raising children boring. There are the three D’s – danger, drama and decision-making – that make parenting one of the most exciting jobs in the world.

 

Danger

We have child proofed our house to the hilt. There are gates blocking access to the kitchen, child locks on drawers plus those plastic things you put into electrical plugs that hinder your vacuuming efforts, as they are almost impossible to pull out. Yet, I feel like I only need to turn around and my kids discover yet another novel way to endanger themselves.

My almost three-year-old daughter’s current favorite game is to say ‘look at me’ as she swings off the stair balustrades where if she let go she could easily tumble down a flight of stairs. I have learned not to look when I hear ‘look at me’.

Last week I noticed a small light emanating from our bedroom and found that both reading lamps had been turned on and the bendy part pushed down so that the lamp was almost touching the bedside tables. Result: bubbling varnish and the top of both tables way too hot to touch. Yes we need to check the light bulb strength in our reading lamps but who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t noticed anything for a few more hours.

Drama

I feel like my children are auditioning for a soap opera. The emotional responses I get to trivial situations would win them a Daytime Emmy for sure. Finding out that I crushed up their Weetbix – hysterics. Wrong breakfast bowl – howls of protest. Requests to brush teeth – met with running away and hiding. And that is just the morning drama.

How to navigate this emotional minefield is a tricky area for parents. I want to acknowledge their emotional response and let them vent for an appropriate period of time. But I also do not understand how putting the wrong Paw Patrol episode on can lead to a meltdown.

 

Decision-Making

Perhaps decision-making is not as exciting as danger and drama but it happens more often each day. Eloise is already dressed in her new swimsuit, should I just send her to daycare in it? She would be happy, it would take less time, but it is not really appropriate attire.

Routines and rules can help to reduce decision-making but there still seems to be a myriad of snap decisions to make all day long and that means parenting is never boring. Rice or couscous? Play Barbies or Lego? Shoes or no shoes? The list is endless.

 

Never Ever Boring

Sometimes, just in case you were feeling quite content with the whole parenting thing, maybe even a tiny bit bored, you will get a situation where all three D’s are thrown at you at once. Like when your toddler insists on driving the car (danger), and your five year old is making a fuss that he doesn’t get a turn (drama) while you are trying to figure out where your wallet may have ended up so you can actually leave the house (decision making).

No wonder I love watching my kids sleep. Not only do they seem like angels but also I get to have a break from the constant adrenalin coursing through my body. That is until they wake in the middle of the night…

Parenting is NEVER Boring Blog Post - Sleeping Child

Three Realizations Blog Post - Cryptocurrency Image

Three Realizations About Mama Worry

Three Realizations Blog Post - Cryptocurrency Image

Typical Mama

When I was going through my pregnancies, I worried about tons of things including ending up with an emergency C-section and stretch marks. Then when my kids were little babies I worried another stack of things like reading to them enough and their sleep routine falling apart.

I am huge worrier from way back and that coupled with my fear of traditional (spiders, snakes) and perhaps stranger things (Doctor Who, geese), probably just means I am a typical mama.

Somehow I thought that as my kids grew up, the fears and worries would reduce, but instead they are as constant as ever. I mean how do I explain things I do not understand myself like crypto currency? I still worry ALL THE TIME.

Is this my lot as a mama? Is there anything I can I do about it?

 

Realization One

I do remind myself that what I worried about the most ended up not being a big deal. Both births were relatively fine and a few stretch marks are not important in the scheme of things.

 

Realization Two

Also, I do know deep down that adding worry into the equation does not help. I love books and read to my babies a lot but if some days it didn’t happen worrying about it did not help matters. And looking back, if my baby fell asleep in my arms, then I should have enjoyed one of the best feelings in the world rather than worrying about keeping to a sleep routine.

 

Realization Three

The most ironic thing about all this worry is that it was actually stuff I didn’t think about that that actually slammed into my life like a freight train. At the end of the pregnancy with Dylan I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, something I had to look up on my mobile phone after I was confined to a hospital bed and told baby would be induced the next day.

I worried about having too much milk or none at all. I even didn’t know you could have a small flow of milk. And I foolishly didn’t foresee how lack of sleep for baby and me could be such an issue.

 

A Good Start

Perhaps being a Mama means I can’t switch off the worry but knowing it is completely pointless is a good start. We worry about things that don’t ultimately matter, we worry about the wrong things and don’t worry about things that actually end up being major issues.

But being a Mama also means that we are stronger than we think and we cope with the things that come up. I played the game with the cards I was dealt with. I handled it. Maybe not well to start with sometimes but I found answers or got outside help where required.

So I guess this means I don’t have to worry about how to explain crypto currency for now. Phew, what a relief!

Don't Worry Be Happy Blog Post - Parenting Worry Cartoon

Parenting Easier Blog Post - Parenting Toolbox

Does Parenting Ever Get Easier?

Parenting Easier Blog Post - Parenting Toolbox

Tools Down

I would really like to know: does parenting ever get easier? I skimmed through a couple of my favorite parenting books again this month trying to glean some nuggets of wisdom. This was due to some poor behavior exhibited, mainly from my kids, and occasionally from me.

I don’t know what has brought the poor behavior on or how best to deal with it. I thought a few years into this parenting gig that both causes and solutions would be easy to spot. Not so.

So far I have narrowed down the possible causes to any or all of the following: food, sleep, a possible growth spurt, adjusting to returning to school/kindy, the weather or the phase of the moon. Replace ‘school/kindy’ with ‘dirty diapers’ and I am essentially back to trying to determine why my ‘baby’ is crying. With the moon a possible cause.

And how best to deal with it? Ignoring it, distraction, time outs or showing empathy with cuddles have met with varying degrees of success. Nothing has had a massive positive impact. These are the main tools in my parenting arsenal but right now they feel a little worn out.

 

Messy

Where does this thought that parenting would get easier even come from? It is probably from cultural messages that state things like ‘now he is seven he makes his bed each morning’ and ‘my ten-year-old does her homework on her own’. The teenage years seem a bit dismal, but after that your kids were adults and surely then they were less work?

But this stage-by-stage approach doesn’t take into account the inherent messiness that comes with parenting. That seven-year-old could still be wetting the bed some nights. The ten-year-old may be scared of another child in her class. Or you may get a knock on the door one day from your 27-year-old needing a place to live.

 

What To Do

So what to do? First, acknowledge that parenting NEVER EVER gets easier. Accepting that may be difficult. But it is much harder to live with a naïve assumption that parenting gets easier.

Second, try to enjoy, or at least accept, being in the parenting trenches. Life is not a movie montage. Sometimes the only thing you can do is take a deep breath or three.

Last, realize you didn’t become a parent because it was easy. You did it because it was hard. You did it knowing deep down how difficult it could be and you did it anyway. All the best things in life take hard work. That is why they are the best things in life.

And please don’t worry about us. As one of my go-to books state: ‘all behavior is communication’. If I stop wishing for it to be over, take a deep breath and truly listen, I know I will figure it out.

 

References

Of Course I Love You… Now Go to Your Room – Diane Levy  http://amzn.to/2Ha333q

Politically Incorrect Parenting – Nigel Latta  http://a.co/heKyjXj

Parenting Easier Blog Post - JFK Moon