I posted this week about the news from Save The Children, that 1.6 million children in the UK are living in poverty. These kids are going to bed cold, hungry and without a school uniform to put on in the morning. These children are being failed by our government and they need our help- there’s no denying that.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, particularly as the mayhem that is half term finally draws to an end. This week, I have taken my daughter to a swimming lesson every day. She has had new teddies, new books, comics and a pair of jeans. She has been to the cinema, to the local petting farm and out to dinner with a friend. Tomorrow she will go to gymnastics, a party and then home to have a friend to play. We have been in a number of shops this week and in each shop, we have heard the infamous words most parents will be familiar with:
“Can I have…?”
Followed swiftly by
My daughter wants me to buy her something new in every shop we visit and for a short -VERY short- while, we pampered to this request. Until we realised it didn’t make her any happier. The comics were being stripped of their flimsy free gifts and left discarded under the seats in the car. The teddies were being cuddled for one night until another, better teddy came along. These things were just things and they didn’t do much to keep that beautiful smile on her face. So I came to the conclusion: Money can’t buy kids happiness.
What makes my kids happy? For the big one, its staying up “late” on a Saturday night to play a game after her brother has gone to bed; recieving a letter from Nanny; playing cartwheels in the living room; chatting with daddy at the kitchen table or painting in the dining room. Its simple things that make her brother happy too- peekaboo at bath time; helping to empty the dishwasher; singing row row your boat. Time together, as a family makes my kids happy. Time to listen to what they did at school; time to play pattacake; time to crunch in the leaves outside or splash in the puddles when its raining.
They’ve done a study on this. The Guardian online reports that The National Foundation for Educational Research found
“wealth may be less linked to children’s wellbeing than had been thought. The research shows children are most likely to say they feel happy if they are able to talk to their parents about their worries.”
While I’m not saying that the numbers of kids living in poverty aren’t a cause for concern, the study does make you think. While we feel gilty that we aren’t filing every moment of our children’s lives with the latest they toy or gadget that they simply HAVE to have or the latest DVD they NEED to watch, there are some kids who won’t ever get the luxuries ours do. And they’re still happy.
The same report also states that
” …young people who often sit down for a meal with their family are 1.6 times more likely to state that they are happy as those who sometimes or never sit down to a meal with their family”
Aren’t some of our best memories those times when we sit around a table with our kids, laughing about the days we’ve had and sharing our worries about the days to come? Do we really need pots of cash to be able to do this? No. We just need time. We just need motivation. We just need to want to spend time with our kids, talking, listening and being there. That costs nothing: the best things in life certainy are free.