For the last six years, I’ve watched as Christmas comes around, and my children make lists of the things they’d like-which I then distribute around their family. More often than not, the list is fulfilled, and they get the majority of items from there that they asked for.
Every year, a portion of these gifts go into toy boxes, to be forgotten about, only to re-emerge the following October, when we have a bedroom sort out for the next Christmas.
This year, I pulled four presents out of my son’s toy box, that hadn’t even been opened. He said he didn’t want them-which is fair enough, but he’d asked for them only ten months before.
My daughter, although she has a smaller room, so the storage isn’t as large, still has more toys than she knows what to do with. Often, there are more toys on her floor-unplayed with-because she’s tipping them out, trying to find something from a McDonalds Happy Meal she got six months before.
The spoiling doesn’t just happen at Christmas. Obviously there are Birthdays, Easter, and general treats throughout the year.
I find it very hard not to give them things, as I remember often willing my parents to take me somewhere I’d always wanted to go, or buying me something I’d seen in a shop.
However, I also remember, as a child, how excited I’d be at Christmas, on my Birthday, at Easter, and when we did get days out. They were so few, that they really felt like a proper treat-not like something we always did.
Because of this, I was grateful-I knew the budgeting process, and the price of things, and I knew my parents had saved to do things with us. I would look forward to my July Birthday, and Christmas, because I knew, something I’d seen during the year, would hopefully be mine when that special day arrived.
And here lies the issue with my children.
It’s been creeping in slowly, but now it’s obvious-they don’t understand the cost of things, they don’t get how expensive days out and presents/treats are. They especially don’t see them as “treats”, and Christmas is now more of a “how many presents have I got” day, than a “wow, I’ve wanted this for SO long” kind of day. There are thanks given, but then there are tantrums, and brattiness, that comes from being spoilt and overwhelmed by sack loads of presents that mean very little.
So this year it’s all change-I’ve taken each of them out individually, and they’ve chosen something they’re truly passionate about. My daughter at her tender age of four, has seen a bike in Smyths with her actual name on it-and, as it’s the only word she can really read, and she’s not yet rode a bike, she fell in love with it.
My son, because of his older age of seven, shows how little he understands about the value of money, and ways to be grateful. He decided on a guitar-he would like to teach himself to play, and he saw a book with Ed Sheeran in it the other day, so is now consumed by hope-that Santa will bring him this one present.
I’m not a horrid Mummy, and I still want my children to have things I didn’t have, and we will obviously buy them more than the above-but the difference is they’re not expecting anything else. I want them to be thankful, and understand that people are spending their pennies on them-so we treat the presents with respect, and we tell those around us how grateful we are for the presents we’re receiving.
They’ll have a list still, one that they’ll probably add to and change when they write to Santa-we wouldn’t take that tradition away from them!
We obviously also have family that would like to buy them things-but the list is smaller this year-much much smaller, and they’re very aware that they may not get a lot of the things they’ve asked for.
Slowly, I can see the change in them-asking how much things cost and seeing how we’re saving for Christmas-and hopefully, they’ll start exhibiting behaviour that reflects their gratitude for not only the gifts they are given, but for those that surround them-giving their time and love.
It’s definitely time to stop spoiling my children-they’re no better for it, and I want them to understand the true meaning of family and celebration.
What about your children? Do they show signs of spoilt behaviour that you too would like to change?