More presence than presents required

I WAS ankle-deep in toys again this Christmas. I would prefer it were otherwise. I had to send out a search party to find the sitting room floor.

I have only three kids (one doesn’t really count because she’s only a few weeks old) and yet we were inundated with toys from aunts and uncles, and grandparents, and various others.

The kids don’t appreciate these toys. Does anybody realise this? Or is everyone simply acting out of peer pressure and afraid to be called a scrooge unless they come round with a box of Liberty Hall-sized proportions?

I’d safely say that 80% of the toys are a complete waste of time. The kids play with them for half an hour and then they move on. Never to return.

From my observations, and I know I have a small sample to work with, kids like the games most which involve their parents or other adults. But when they get a little older, the likes of the PlayStation takes over and they retreat into a less-than-social world.

A friend of mine took the kids for an afternoon and showed them how to bake gingerbread men, buns and little cakes. They absolutely loved it. All the ingredients probably came to around two euro and yet my little daughter liked it best of all the things she did over Christmas.

There’s a moral here.

What kids really want is attention and to be made to feel important. This isn’t easy because we are all so damn busy.

I know that my kids love for me to read them a story before they go to sleep. But most nights I’m just too tired, or too reading the paper; or too watching the television; or too something else to make the effort.

The trick is to find a balance but I think the deluge of toys doesn’t help. 

Would it be very unfair to identify at least some our present-buying obsession with a guilt that we need to compensate children for not spending enough time with them?

If so, then time spent might be better than money spent.

What you should do with those toys

Most of the toys your kids got at Christmas will never be played with again.  Here’s what you should do with them.

Find yourself a big box and put it in a place where the kids don’t go. (That’s not going to be easy).

Gather most of the toys and put them in the box. If the kids ask specifically for a particular toy then give it to them.

After a month you will be left with more than half the presents. The kids will never think of them again.

Then take the remaining presents and give them to the St Vincent de Paul, who will find good home for them next Christmas. You can be sure that the families who receive them will really appreciate it.

A lot of houses can’t afford to buy toys some go into dept to to ensure their kids don’t get left behind. 

There’s another upside to this approach as well. Half your house won’t be taken up with toy storage.