Give the Best Present this Christmas - the Gift of Presence

When I was a child I remember birthdays and Christmas being the time for presents and big celebrations.  The excitement and anticipation building up in the weeks leading to the event was just as much fun as opening all the brightly wrapped parcels.  I remember having the same toys for years, loving them until they fell apart and them becoming part of my childhood and playing with them frequently.

Today, I look at my son’s collection of toys sometimes and wonder when he last played with them and how often he spends with each toy.  There are definitely favourites yet sometimes I think I have the stronger sentimental attachment to the discarded ones than he does.  Being an only child I will admit that he does get a lot and is often brought new things as a treat, to spark a new interest or encourage his growth and development. 

I find myself thinking that perhaps it is me that needs to be more creative and help explore new learning options with what he already has rather than buying more stuff that will sit in the bottom of a huge toy box.

It really saddens me when I am out and see children relying on technology to be entertained, their poor eyes staring at a screen with rapidly changing images and colours surely is over stimulating and absolutely restricts the ability to allow little imaginations to flourish.  Growing up, our family holidays involved endless travel on the train and we were taught to stimulate ourselves through books, colouring, playing cards together or watching out of the window.  I have no doubt that it was the interaction from my parents that helped to encourage this as well as the expectation they created, that this was how you travelled.

The older I get the less attached I become to stuff and the more driven I am to create memories through sharing experiences with those I love.  I would rather spend time instead of money and invest into my relationships and this is how I now approach parenting.  I believe that my son would rather have me help him to build a race track, trainset, towers, a fort, play chase, ball or peekaboo with my full loving attention rather than give him a new toy and walking away.

It is these moments of interaction that builds a strong family bond.  It’s not the quantity of the toys that is important but the quality of the playtime together.  What’s the point of having toys gathering dust on the shelf?

This year, instead of buying an overload of new toys or stuff for your children, why not take them out somewhere new or dedicate an afternoon to what they want to do?  Show them how to bake mince pies, create pictures with tinsel and left over wrapping paper or just sit down together and snuggle on the sofa with a great family friendly film.

You will find this more valuable than anything money can buy!