Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Power of Play

It's coming up to that time of year now, isn't it, Christmas is rearing it's head unavoidably! I personally adore Christmas. Seasonal music on the radio, beautiful lights everywhere, shiny wrapping paper and excitement (and of course celebrating our Saviour's birth!). I continue to be shocked at how commercial it can be though, I know, I know, it's the same old thing. But I think that especially now with social media it's more apparent - friends are posting about what laptop and what iPad to buy their young children for Christmas!

We didn't celebrate Christmas for many years, and when we did begin to again I went very overboard. I bought far too many gifts, and I would say overall only about 10% of what my children were bought was actually appreciated. That was back in 2008, and each year we seem to be sizing down what goes under the tree. I think my children already have enough toys, 9 times out of 10 they play with the large tub of Duplo that we have in the living room.

One of Today's Creations

Maia's House

Literally, a day does not go by that it isn't played with. They also have a large tub of trains and track that Calvin got for his 2nd birthday that is well loved and played with too. I really don't feel that they need any more toys, at this point. They each have some other toys too, musical instruments, dolls, action men... but they just don't see the same light of day. They also love to occupy themselves building tents and colouring pictures.

Artwork in the Living Room

My children really enjoy the times I let them play on the laptop, there are some fantastic educational games available online that they learn a lot from. The same goes for my phone. I know if I got them a tablet they would be absolutely thrilled! However, I know from experience that their imaginative play explodes when their screen time is limited. I see that the days when I let them watch several DVD's because I'm feeling bad, they get 'bored' more easily and can even argue and fight with each other more. So I've made a conscious decision not to buy electronics for them at this point - and that's without getting into the discussion of cost! This year for Christmas I have already organised all their gifts:

  • Cora - Fur Real Puppy and custom handbag/hairband matching set 
  • Calvin - Pogo Stick, Ant Farm, and Pillow Pet
  • Maia - Lightning McQueen Crocs, Worm Farm, and Pillow Pet.
Stockings will be hung up and filled with little craft items such as new colouring pencils, and some treats. They will of course get gifts from others, though I try and persuade people to make memories with them instead of buying things. Take them to the theatre, or on the train for a day out, take photos and write the story down - they will treasure it! 

According to Ribena, in their Plus Play Report, almost half of parents spend over £200 on children at Christmas. I find that hard to believe, because we keep hearing how 'times are tight' and we're having to cut back. And the question is, do children really need so much stuff? Will it make them happy? Will they remember it fondly when they're adults? If not, then perhaps we should reconsider the Power of Play and whether so many toys and gadgets are the answer. 

P.S. If you haven't already, check out my link to Ribena, they have some fantastic ideas about play and templates for making fun things from cardboard boxes!