Are your children time starved and toy rich? 20


The true measure of a nation’s standing ishow well it attends to its children – theirhealth and safety, their material security,their education and socialization, andtheir sense of being loved, valued, andincluded in the families and societies into which they are born.

I am sure by now most people will be aware of the BBC article and the UNICEF report which states that British children are at the bottom of a table showing well being in rich counties.  Sadly this didn’t surprise me, but it does make for interesting, albeit sad reading.

I fear that it is a damning reflection on a lot of what I feel is wrong with society today and makes me realise that I am doing my best by trying to be there for my children.  To spend quality time with them and ensure that we have family games nights and that weekends are spent making memoires, rather than shopping, which seems to be a common occurrence.

I am not implying that we live an Enid Blyton lifestyle as that isn’t true and I can be as materialistic as the next person, but it isn’t a pretty trait.  What saddens me is I also see it in my children.  Toys have become a weekly thing for some children at their school and where as we try and make them for high days and holidays, the boys see all the adverts of TV  and want, want, want.  Which brings me to the point of advertising aimed at children, which I find horrifying.  When the boys were smaller I restricted their viewing to Cbeebies and Playhouse Disney (now Disney Junior) as both channels were advert free, but as they have got older, they change the channels themselves and what to watch specific programs and they like to watch the adverts, which are just a constant bombardment of toys.

But for me the biggest issue is that fact that it is hard in the UK to run a family on just one income.  This means that a lot of parents are forced to both work, which means someone else looking after their children.  Often children do not get to spend much time with their parents, let along quality time and people over compensate by giving their children toys and gadgets.    I never had my children to leave them with other people and I find it so disheartening that we are struggling to make this possible without me working.  The fact is that part time work is hard if not impossible to come by.  The thought of leaving my children in childcare whilst I went out to work is not only financial incompatible, but also leaves me in a cold sweat.  I love the fact that I can take them to the park after school, that we have dinner together every day as a family and that MadDad can have an hour with the boys before bed.  I make sure that I do all the housework, shopping and other stuff during the week, so that our weekends are sacred family time and I appreciate just how lucky I am to be able to do this and believe that this is something that other families should have the opporunity to do.

PS I have tried really hard not to be a Miss Judgeypants.  These are my opinions and I welcome other peoples opinions.

20 thoughts on “Are your children time starved and toy rich?

  • Chris at Thinly Spread

    Very well written post Jen. I do find advertising to children insidious and I often pop a DVD on just to avoid them. Because BB has older siblings it has been harder to avoid advertising but I hear them saying things to him about adverts that I used to say to them so hopefully he will turn out alright!

  • Scottish Mum

    I so hear you on the toy thing. It’s one thing that causes major meltdowns in our house as their pals get toys several times a month, and mine only get on special occasions, birthdays and christmas.

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Scottish Mum » oh yes, one of the reasons we stopped toy testing as much was the raised expectations of the boys

  • geekmummy

    Great post Jen, with some excellent points. I can feel my own blog post coming on as a result, but I did just want to agree wholeheartedly with you about kids and advertising.

    My kids don’t watch adverts on TV. We don’t watch live TV at all – if there’s a show they like I will record it and watch it later, and I will edit out the adverts before they see it.

    This isn’t a new problem of course. My mother tells a story of me at the age of 3 racing in to her after watching some TV saying “Mummy, Mummy you MUST buy new Aquafresh!” having seen an advert for the first time. The TV said it, therefore we MUST do it, right? So from then on my watching of adverts was restricted, and that’s definitely influenced my decision to restict my kids’ watching.

  • Susan Mann

    I am struggling so much to be at work just now, I miss the boys so much especially now Lucas is at school and I don’t see him as much on my day off. I try to spend as much time as possible with the boys at the weekend. I don’t want them to miss out. But sometimes it is hard to fit everything else in. I spend my hour with them before bed and we always do things as a family at the weekend. I think it is important. You did a great post on this. x

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Susan Mann » it is hard to balance life and work. I think that it s sad that today you really need two incomes to live, it takes away choice

  • Tracy Cazaly

    Excellent points mentioned in your blog. It is hard to find a balance and ‘no’, the advertising really dosen’t help but I have found that since moving from Surrey to Devon, it has been far less demanding on us as parent’s and it seems that here they do seem to take an important stance on outdoor activities both for health but also family time! We spend many a time on Dartmoor walking our dog and picnics along with beach days out which fortunately cost very little, perhaps an ice-cream. It will never be an easy one or ever go away for that matter so it’s just a case of finding what works for each and everyone within their own family units.

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Tracy Cazaly » I agree that there isn’t a one size fits all solution, but taking the pressure off helps

  • Emma

    This is a subject of which I feel extremely passionately. I gave up my career, closed my business and became a mum full time as soon as I knew that I would finally be a mum to Rachel. I would not change this for the world, no matter what luxuries and “nice to haves” we have given up. I am lucky, it is at least possible for me, and I wish more could manage it and would choose it.

    This year was Rachel’s 6th birthday and she had less presents than any of her peers from what I can establish and she was happy because what she got was time. We took her to the zoo for the day which was her choice of what to do on her birthday. I blanked out the week before her birthday from all work and spent it with her. I gave her time and that is worth more to us both than anything else.

    If I ask Rachel what she’d like more of, she always asks for more “mummy time”, it’s precious to us both and as she gets older it’s less available. And I see in the many children that I come into contact with in the community that time with those they love is what they crave.

    thanks for raising this again, it’s so important an issue.

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Emma » I think that it is wonderful that you are able to give your daughter such a firm foundation

  • Attila

    I don’t have children but I was a child once. My mum worked part time and seasonally when I was a child, and although she undoubtedly put much of the money toward practical things, she also used a lot of it to buy presents for us at xmas. I remember three xmas presents from my childhood; a rocking horse made by dad; a sewing box made by dad and a farmyard (some of which I still have for visiting children) which mum bought. I can’t remember much else. What I do remember is the joy I got from these simple toys (well, I still use the sewing box) and the times I spent with my parents, both doing things for pleasure (looking through the button tin with mum and playing cards and ludo with her) and watching or helping my parents work at home. If I had children I would do everything in my power to do what you are doing and be at home for them as much as I possibly could.

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Attila » it is great tat we were all once children, your memories are fantastic. I hope my children grow up with similar

  • Michelle Twin MUm

    Amen to that Jen! Time with the kids is so important. I have asked dh if we can cancel Christmas for all the adults this year, such a commerical waste! I will just make some simple gifts and forget the tit for tat!

    Mich x

  • Kelloggsville

    Interesting to refer to Enid Blyton as a parental idyl. Her books rarely involve parents at all and when they do it is a distanced relationship. From what I’ve read/seen she was a dreadful mother! And yet we think of those books as fantastic upbringing for children in a safe (ish) parent free world 🙂

    I have always worked. Initially because I was a single mother and salary-childcare=mortgage. Now I work by choice. It helps me. I have a cleaner, gardener and shop online so we manage some family time. Sometimes I would like more. Part time would have been my perfect choice. I know how I have balanced my time and feel my daughter isn’t too time starved. But I hear where you are coming from and think there is a greater argument for staying home than working in the interests of the child if money allows it. I think we mostly do the best we can with what we have and the ways we know how and fingers crossed we’ll churn out some decent adults from our offspring 🙂

  • Cara

    I definitely concur with the TV adverts – you don’t even notice a difference pre-Christmas anymore, it is all year round pressure. That’s why I love Cbeebies or DVD’s on the *cough* rare occasions they sit in front of the box.

    My kids are toy rich, and that is just from friends & relatives at Christmas/Birthday/outgrown clear outs. I made a conscious decision 2 Christmases ago to be very minimal with gift purchases and I stuck to it. I’d rather they have the breathing & play space than drown under toys. I’m on a de-clutter kick at the moment too (as I know you have been), the more that goes, the happier I and the kids are.

  • Becky from babybudgeting

    As you know I have an empty nest now and I am so greteful for every minutei shad with my babies. For my sake even more than theirs. We have too much and we all want to much we have to reevaluate every now and again as we just all get plain greedy. I try and fit stuff in too whilst the kids are at school an mak a bit of money writing. It’s a good thing to be reminded every once in the while that what our kids really need is us.

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