I Spoil My Children at Christmas. Here’s Why.

O.K. unpopular opinion alert. I spoil my children at Christmas and I’m more than happy to. Before you light the torches and sharpen the pitchforks let me explain why.

Nostalgia

I was doing some online Christmas shopping the other day and lamenting how difficult a 9 year going on 18 year old is to buy for. I saw all the toys on offer 2 for £15 on things like play kitchen accessories, dress up and frozen ice palace playsets and had a sudden pang of…nostalgia I suppose. For the time when I could buy my little girl all those kinds of toys. It felt a little bit like regret. Until I realised I had nothing to regret because I did buy her all those toys. I indulged myself in a daydream of some memories. One memory of her in a pair of over sized dress up pink heels and a blue princess dress pouring tea for teddies that she had set up in a circle on a blanket in the living room. The many ice creams bought from the play kitchen and playing shops on Christmas morning with a till that had a little microphone.

Fear not, that’s not the holey argument I’m going for here. As we all should know children don’t need ‘stuff’ to make wonderful memories. I also can remember her playing drums on my saucepans with a wooden spoon wearing a babygro and stripy wellies and thinking it was the best thing ever. We loved nature walks and would go outside together in all weathers to spot insects and collect leaves to make pictures.

No Money Needed

Children genuinely are happy when they’re well loved and that is the be all and end all. No matter if your Christmas doesn’t look like other people’s or even how you wanted it to look. I know from personal experience that Christmas can be made wonderful with next to no budget.

That Bloody Facebook Meme

But this post that has been doing the rounds for a few years now never fails to wind me up. The one imploring families to be careful about what they tell their kids santa brought, or even worse to not ‘go mad’ at Christmas with the amount of presents they buy. You probably know the one. And the reason it pisses me off so much is because it’s an attempt at manipulation. It aims to make parents feel guilt or shame about how they celebrate Christmas. Specifically it pisses me off because I had little as a child and now I can spoil my own kids I bloody well will whether you like it or not. Every time I see it I just want to write a big cross on it in red pen. Like a really badly failed exam paper.

It’s Alright For Some

That might be a very privileged attitiude to take. What if I can’t afford to spoil my kids? You may well ask. Then don’t is my answer. Seriously, don’t break your back trying to buy your kids loads of presents at Christmas. Buy them some presents if you can, then spend time with them. Make up some family traditions they can remember as adults. Make Christmas biscuits together or decorations for the tree. Put a satsuma in their stockings. But don’t try to convince other parents that you not being able to have Christmas how you want is their responsibility. It’s not. It wasn’t when I was a kid and it’s not now.

I have friends who choose to be economical with presents for their children at Christmas for reasons other than budget. Somone I know gets each of their children four gifts each, something to read, something they need, something to eat and something to learn. It’s something like that – I’m sure it’s supposed to rhyme (I failed my audition for that Dr Suess film). But it’s really lovely and it works for her family. I can totally understand that she is trying to create a culture of them understanding that we already have all we need and valuing time over gifts. It’s lush but the thought of only buying my children four presents each makes my stomach flip to be honest. I just can’t. And I don’t want to and I think that’s the main point I’m making.

Quality or Quantity

It’s not all about quantity either, don’t get me wrong here. I never buy presents for the sake of it, and I don’t count them to make sure I have a certain amount or anything like that. And we really don’t go as overboard as some family Christmases I have seen on the old insta/facebook/insert your fav social media site here. It’s just nice having spent the majority of my life counting pennies (literally) to not have to for my children at Christmas. It’s quite a novelty. And novelty is a good word for it, it might well wear off in a few years.

We set a budget and stick to it, and I’m not going to consider how you and your family celebrate Christmas when buying Christmas presents for my children. And I implore you not to consider me and mine. Unless you’re buying for them then crack right on. Books please 😉

Christmas is More Than Presents

Christmas really is about so much more than gifts. It’s about love, Jesus (had to sorry not sorry), family, and assessing the past year and thinking about how we can fit more of those 3 things into our next year ahead. You know, think of Scrooge.

Children genuinely are best happy when they are loved. Just simply loved. All that washing uniforms you have done? That’s love. All those fish fingers served? Love. All those hugs when they were ill? Love you can’t buy. Gifts don’t have to be bought to contain all the love in the world. If you’re having a tough Christmas this year trust me, your kids don’t mind.

You won’t ‘spoil’ your kids by going a little OTT at Christmas. You can still teach them how to be nice humans, you can still guide them in important morals, you can still create all those precious Christmas memories with them (yes that’s what they will remember). Just don’t let that bloody awful facebook meme make you feel guilty about what you buy or what you tell them about santa.

Enjoy Christmas!

It’s Christmas!

The shopping is done, my home is full, I’ve even wrapped all the presents, it’s officially Christmas.

Now that school is finished and husband is off work for Christmas and New Year it feels like Christmas has really begun. I’ve eaten mince pies and squirty cream and Christmas pudding. Yesterday I made festive hot chocolates with cream and marshmallows and a flake. Christmas tunes have been bellowing out through the Alexa.

As we are going to my mother in law’s for our Christmas dinner feast, and to my sister in law’s for Christmas Eve -and both will feed us well- I’ve only had to buy food and snacks for the periphery days we’re home. The snack cupboard is bulging. I even went all out and bought us a cheese board which felt like a luxury just for us two.

Time to relax…

December has truly flown by and it’s taken me a bit aback this year. I know how December usually goes for me – I get a bit gloomy as the days get darker, I long for snow all month, and get fed up of Christmas songs by the 2nd week. I never drink on Christmas Day and yet it always flies by in a blur. In the evening I fridge surf for left overs even though I’m still stuffed from dinner. Boxing Day is always a hang over even if not alcohol induced. I mourn the fleeting merriment of Christmas and, the equivalent of having a wedding every year on Dec 25th, it seems asinine to have put so much effort into one short day. This is the general lay out of Christmas for me. December can be emotional.

However, this year in the blink of an eye The-Big-Day is only 4 days away and I haven’t even had time to become sick of Noddy Holder. I wonder if it is because I am getting older and time just goes by that much quicker now. That’s a scary thought!

Anyway, I am truly looking forward to Christmas. The overall plan this year is to kick back and chill out. Quality family time is at the top of both mine and Rich’s list. I love getting out and visiting friends and family but it is something very special to have our cosy little nest to return home to, especially on these dark evenings.

I’m hoping to spend some time reading over the next few days and maybe writing too. I love Christmas telly, and I’m definitely not dieting. I’m going full on hedonist like Roman style feast level. Give me all the cheese. I’m most looking forward to the kids opening their presents, that’s the best part by far. They are so excited this year!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, with people that you love. I pray that you feel loved and look to the new year 2019 with hope and curious anticipation. Merry Christmas!

Why is Dad So Cool?

Looking on as my husband played on the floor of our living room with my toddler I felt a pang of jealousy. ‘Dad is the best’ I could imagine my son saying when he’s older, ’he’s so much fun!’ But what about Mum? And why do the things I do for our family seem to remain under the radar?

What Rich was actually doing was a great job of distracting our poorly boy from his nausea with a game of cars. My 2-year-old son had a sickness bug and this was the perkiest he had been all morning. Over and above that sly pang of jealousy what I felt was primarily love but also admiration. As his dad, Rich understood how he could connect with our little boy on his level.


Play 

Play is the most direct way to connect with any child. What looked like a quiet came of toy cars on the living room floor was actually so much more. It was momentary respite for our son from his illness. It was a way of showing him love and helping him to feel safe. Also, we were both unobtrusively assessing him too. Checking while he played how weak or tired he was, his concentration level, his communication, whether he showed signs of confusion etc.

Whilst I had done the majority of the caring work, like emptying the sick bucket and the boil washes, it was the game of cars that seemed to be the best healer at that moment. It was a relief to see my son playing because it was nice to see him happy and it also signalled to an imminent recovery.


‘…there aren’t so many stock images available of mums loading the washing machine with the uniforms while their kids look on fondly.’

Caring

It made me think about how awesome dads are. Scenes of dads with their kids on their shoulders, both laughing loudly, flicked through my mind. Slow-mo images of dads throwing their kids in the air to catch them as they giggled, playing fire engines making all the loud noises, running around a soft play. But what about mums? Well mums do all those things too. Just this week I jumped into a soft sponge pit and landed in something ominously wet while playing with my toddler at pre-school gymnastics. Mums do fire engine noises too. But there aren’t so many stock images available of mums loading the washing machine with the uniforms while their kids look on fondly.

While I don’t necessarily relish doing laundry or making meals,I do absolutely love feeling that I have done something good for my family. When I get to wrap them up after their bath in a lush smelling big fluffy towel, I feel awesome that that will be a part of their memories of their childhood. When they look back and remember that there was always food being made for them by one of us, that makes me feel awesome. When they look back and realise that having ironed clean uniform was just one less thing that they had to worry about I will know it is because of our dedication as parents, and that makes me feel awesome.

Strengths

I guess we all have to play to our strengths and in my family that means Rich does more of the car noises and I do more of the meal planning. Sometimes I am the fun mum who gets on the trampoline and dad is the one who no-one has noticed has ironed the shirts for the week but in general dad is upfront and I’m in the back covering the rear. Or maybe underneath laying foundations? And that is why I’m going to have to get used to the ‘Dad is so fun,he’s awesome’ comments and wait a few years for my ‘thanks for looking after us all mum, you’re awesome’ ones.

I am so grateful to have Rich as my children’s father. He genuinely is such an amazing dad (so he deserves all the praise he gets!). That meme about loving your partner more when you see them as your co-parent is so true. Both of us had absent fathers growing up in some way or another and I think that has helped to make us both more determined to be the best parents we can be. I just wanted to say I recognise that there are a lot of parents out there who are doing both roles at once. They have no choice but to be cool fun mum and background caring mum all at once and with little to no support.

Families

All families are awesome however they are made up. With dad or without dads. This post is a comment on how the role of dad is portrayed and how sometimes my family happens to fall into that tired old stereotype and how sometimes that works for us and that is OK too.

How does your family work? Do you find it’s different in different situations?

If you liked this one you might also like https://katelili.com/cradle-cap-green-skin-and-shaving-my-head/

Finding Reliable Childcare

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*This is a collaborative post and was sponsored by childcare. co. uk*


There are many things that connect us as mums, however, I have found that there are two universal issues that we all face. One of them is time, or perhaps the lack thereof. Whether we are working full time, part time or stay at home, we are all short on time. The world and it’s husband is constantly vying for our time and attention. The second thing is the absolutely gut wrenching decisions we have to make when it comes to finding childcare. 

Returning To Work

I vividly remember the conversation with my mum friends about the much dreaded return to work. We were sat around my friend’s kitchen table one evening having a mum’s night off and catching up. We were a close knit group, we met at our NCT ante natal classes. Our babies were all coming up to the 9 month old mark and all of us were navigating the return to work. One of my friends was anxious but also excited to return to her role, another was pleased to return to full pay and not have to worry so much about the household budget, while I was outright terrified at the prospect altogether. However we were all feeling, all of us had the same concern as first time mums and that was, how do we find the right childcare? 

That evening with my friends seems like so long ago now, and at that time most of us went on word of mouth recommendations. All of our circumstances were different. Two of the group worked full time but in different cities, one worked part time, one was heading into self employment after leaving her corporate job and I ended up taking voluntary redundancy and becoming a stay at home mum. All of our families had very differing needs when it came to childcare and support.

Local Childcare

If we were having that conversation today, one of us could have recommended childcare.co.uk It’s an online social networking platform where you can search for all sorts of childcare providers who are local to you. It’s easy to use and creating an account is free. I have been looking for some wraparound care for some afternoons after nursery but I was also stoked to find you can find a doula on there too. Actually, I’d say they have every type of childcare covered and they also list childcare jobs too. 

Research

Each provider has a profile page where they can describe themselves and their service and list their fees and current availability. I have been looking for childminders who can do a pick up from nursery and lots of my local childminders have written on their profile if that is something they provide and which schools they currently do pick ups at. 

Safety

My favourite feature so far is the reviews. At the bottom of each profile there is a space for other parents to leave a review. This is a great way to get a feel for what other parents thought about the person or nursery. 

Our number one priority as parents is our children’s safety, and when finding childcare we want to be certain that our babies are safe and being cared for. We also want to know they are having fun and are happy! There are things we can do to vet the person or provider. We can check their DBS certificate and other qualifications such as childcare and paediatric first aid. We can arrange to meet them to see their care environment. There is a FAQ and safety section on the the childcare.co.uk website to help with this including posts like ‘avoiding scams’ and ‘choosing a nursery’.

Parenting Tools

You may have seen Childcare.co.uk on T.V. adverts. I have found it really useful as a one stop site which has collated all those word of mouth recommendations in one place. It’s great for us as parents and carers to be confident about finding the right childcare provider. I was glad to find it also has 5 stars on external review site Trust Pilot. The website is so quick to use and it’s a fantastic tool for parents and families. 


I Did Not Notice Meghan’s Mum Was Alone.

I watched the latest royal wedding avidly. I don’t know about being a royalist or non-royal supporter but when it comes to a wedding video, I’m in. I didn’t realise how much I wanted to see it until the day it was on actually, I was transfixed.

It was a beautiful affair. The bride very demure and understated glamour, the groom waiting with his big brother who had gone before him. All very lovely. What I found most interesting was the focus on Meghan’s mum Doria after the wedding.

There was a lot of posts about how brave she was to sit alone and others about how she is fearless. It was as if the world suddenly got really snooty about how families work. I haven’t looked at the stats but I’m pretty sure there are a fair few of us who did not find it unusual at all.

wedding-alone

I realised my mum came to my wedding alone. There were no posts after about how amazing that was, I don’t think anyone really noticed. I didn’t even think about it. There were other members of my family at my wedding unlike at Meghan’s wedding. Perhaps that was why it was so brought up.

What I did notice was that her mum went in the car with her but then Meghan had to walk into the church alone to meet Prince Charles who was to walk her down the aisle. I wonder why her mum was moved out of shot at that point? I don’t know the answer.

It was as if Meghan’s family set up was being measured against a yard stick set by the royal family’s circumstances. But when you think about it, their family history of relationships is not exactly something to live up to. The Crown series I have been watching has painted Prince Phillip as a right cad and we know infidelity abounded during Charles and Diana’s marriage also.

However, I am not here to cast judgement. And I can appreciate those ‘warrior mom’ posts about Doria Ragland came from a place of respect and admiration. But really, it’s not such a huge thing. It is what it is. Some families have one parent, some people don’t have a lot of extended family. I bet  if you asked Meghan and her mum Doria they probably didn’t think anything of it either. They were probably both distracted with celebrating happiness.

single-mum-india

Mum and I on a beach in India

I really didn’t see Doria as a downtrodden poor old maid who had no strapping man to take care of her for the day, or alternatively as a militant feminist woman who never accepts help from anyone. I just saw a mum sitting in awe of that cathedral, looking on in love at her daughter getting wed.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, let’s not be so easily led to believe that one shape or size is the right one. As long as there is love, that’s all that matters.

 

If you liked this post you might enjoy this one about how women support each other.