22nd December 2014

We all know the age-old saying that children would rather play with the cardboard box than the actual gift inside and many of us have probably experienced it too. That cardboard box could be the fastest car in the universe or the entrance to a secret underground cave and that sparkly dress in the box? Never as sparkly as the one in your imagination.

For the last few months, parents have been subjected to an increasing barrage of adverts about the latest ‘must have’ toy.  And while, of course, there is nothing wrong with buying the newest gadgets or fluffiest toys for our children, for many of us it can be something we do whether we cannot afford it or not. So why do we feel such pressure as parents to spend out on the latest craze? How many of us have succumbed and spent more than we should, or can afford this Christmas? And what of the toys and gadgets we're buying? Are they always suitable or sensible choices?

A recent survey found that 70% of us feel pressured to spend more than we can afford during the holiday period and that Mothers alone spend an average of £270.00 per child on presents. I can believe it. Despite a clear budget and the very best of intentions I've overspent this year and as I look down at the still unwrapped gifts I have to say I feel a little queasy. I love my children. I want to treat them. I want to see their little faces light up as they open their presents on Christmas morning and I know they will.  But I also know that amongst the barrage of beeps, whirs and bangs (although they might not realise it) they'd also relish the opportunity to play for an hour or so without their new 'stuff'. They may have to be persuaded to reach for the 'off' button certainly, but what child can really resist the opportunity to play games - real, good old fashioned games that require nothing more than a little imagination? As more and more toys and increasingly sophisticated technology floods the market we mustn't forget the value of simple, creative imaginative play and how this type of play can benefit young children so greatly.

As Albert Einstein said, 'Logic will get you from A - B, but imagination will get you everywhere', so this Christmas morning there will be one more present but you won't find it under the tree. Let's locate the 'off' switch for an hour or two and see where our imaginations take us...

Happy Christmas everyone!