Money Can’t Buy Kids Happiness

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
“Why not?!”

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.


11 responses to “Money Can’t Buy Kids Happiness

  • Hey, Mummy Mummy

    Well said, the best things in life are free! I wish we had more time though, that’s not free 😦

  • Michelle Twin Mum

    I am totally with you on this, JJ’s idea if bliss is a bike ride with Daddy and the girls just want to do craft or make a puzzle with Mummy. Time with the kids is what makes a real difference.

    Mich x

  • steph curtis

    You’re so right. And I’m definitely guilty of treating mine too much to try and keep them happy/occupied. But your post has made me think more about it and tomorrow I will be a better mummy, do less blogging, twittering and facebooking, and give them more time. Although I did get the paints out for them today – surely I get Brownie points for that?! 😉

  • waterbirthplease

    Lovely lovely blog post – so well put! (I don’t need money anyway – Grace walked out of H and M today with a headband I hadn’t paid for 🙂

  • Katrina Neighbour

    This post makes me take a second look at all the silly little things I buy Jare that just get chucked in the toy box when he’d rather just go for a walk and jump in some puddles. Even though the weather is due to be awful tomorrow I think that is what we will do! Go out and jump in puddles 🙂 Thanks for this post x

  • Him Up North

    As they say, money may not make you happy, but it makes the sadness easier to bear. 🙂

    Of course we want our children to be happy without recourse to materialistic remedies. However we as parents do this against a backdrop of an incredibly high-pressure consumerist society where you are either a have or a have-not.

    As my children get older I see it more and more. Sadly, it’s all about softening the blows quite often.

  • Jacq

    Mine love Dh and I to sit down on the sofa and watch a DVD with them, and fight over whose turn it is for some mummy time.
    My kids also get and have too much crap but when it’s something they have really wanted for a length of time we tend to get it for their next birthday. Stuff is often forgotten quickly though.

  • mothersalwaysright

    So true. We decided when Frog was born that all the money we’d saved up would be spent on experiences with her, rather than material things. We do swimming lessons, baby sensory classes, monkey music…we afford this because we get most of Frog’s clothes from Nearly New sales and hand-me-downs from friends and family. She has lots of toys, but most of those are also hand-me-downs. I just wish I didn’t have to go back to work in a couple of months so I could give her more time. But even though the best things in life are free, deposits on houses aren’t. So until we have a mortgage I will have to try and make more time somehow!

  • mummy@bodfortea

    You are so right about this. We have a breakfast-in-bed rule on Sundays where DD, OH and I jump back into bed and have breakfast together and play for a while. It’s my favourite morning of the week and usually descends into a mass tickling affair. No toys, just us.

  • Becky (babybudgeting)

    srorytelling baths and scootering beat comics and paint a pit everty time. Energy not money is whats required x

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