Parenting | The truth hurts | What children really want.

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Over the summer, I cleaned out the children’s playroom and disgusted myself as we threw out 6 super large boxes of toys.  Before I could even move the toys back into the playroom, the children were happily playing with just one or two toys in an empty room.  They were much more energetic and creative in their play with an empty room – making me realise the old adage is true that less is more.

I was also inspired by the ‘tidy up’ expert Marie Kondo, best selling author around the world from Japan, that we should only keep things that ‘spark joy’.  

Too much choice

My children, I realised, were overwhelmed with the number of toys they had and often couldn’t figure out what they wanted.  Experts often say too much choice is exhausting, and I am beginning to see that.  Our generation, as parents, has to make so many choices on a daily basis, probably tenfold over our parents’ generation.  We have to decide, which pram, which monitor, which brand of cot, blanket, nappy, organic/non-organic, colours, style – it is a nightmare and we are adults.  Our children are experiencing the same exhaustion.

Children, ironically, have no choice but are wired to purchase things, and they are more vulnerable and more susceptible than us.  There are large companies who ensure that children have to purchase their products – they hire experts who pick the right shade of pink, fonts and designs to ensure that children are magnetised to their products, and they invest millions into this.  During our summer holidays in Europe, I was appalled at the children’s adverts on various children’s TV channels, and my children were begging for all these toys after every episode of Paw Patrol.  Thank goodness the UAE does not allow this.

We are also all so guilty as parents for purchasing toys just to see the pure joy on their face that lasts for about 2 hours.  That’s the truth.  It is more fun for the children to open the packaging to extract the toy then to actually play with it.

Toys are essential

Toys have always been a part of growing up, and I am not suggesting throwing them all out.  Enid Blyton’s Amelia Jane, and Disney’s Toy Story movies are evidence that they are essential, and part of growing up.  Children learn by mimicking adults in their own world using toys as props.  But what we choose to let into our homes as parents is also important.

The choice available today is overwhelming for children, and toys today are not necessarily designed with children’s interest at heart.  Most Disney’s costumes are made with poor quality materials ready for mass purchase at affordable prices.  We have plenty of those Princess dresses at home. #guilty

As parents, we purchase the toys for the children, and we sometimes all deep down hope these time replacements can entertain the children. Whilst the children will go off for hours to play by themselves (in theory), we can tick lists off our own agendas.  But that’s not really what children want.  They want us to play with them.  They want our time.  I have really decided less is more now.  Our children want experiences with us.

My eldest two children went for one of the best playdates with school friends.  This mother, I admire raises her children old school style.  Her children have few toys, no TV access except for family movie nights on a Thursday, and our children together had great fun creating ‘spy scenes’ and adventure in the house.  My children still rave about it being one of their best playdates to date.

As a family, we try to invest more time in the pool, the beach, the garden, and play traditional board games together.  The toys we choose are different these days.  My eldest son, age 7, prefers a game of chess, battleships and chess with my husband or me.  My  daughter wants us to build Lego friends together, and my third child  enjoys Peppa Pig’s version of Snakes and Ladders.  Those are often birthday gifts I give to other families as it is so lovely for the family to do these activities together.

As a mum, I have started to realise the importance of bringing back the old school style of parenting.  Time is really the most precious gift we can give our children – they won’t remember the toys we bought them but the games and fun they had with us.  I don’t always succeed in doing this because life gets busy, but I am really trying to protect my time and afternoons with the children as much as I can.

Tags: Dubai Kids, Mums in Dubai, Mums in London, Seashells On The Palm, things to do in dubai

Wednesday, October 26, 2016