Spend quality time instead of money.

For anyone who ever feels stuck for things to do with their child, especially during those weeks when money is tight. 

Sometimes, I find myself worrying about finances and whether I'll be able to give Etienne enough in his life. As a single mum, of course there's the financial worries of every day life and whether or not I'll be able to afford to treat him to things every now and then as he grows up. I'm sure plenty of parents worry about their kids wanting the latest toy or gadget like 'all the other kids' and not being able to afford it. 

Yesterday, something dawned on me more than it ever has done before;
 I was sat on a public bench waiting to meet up with a friend. The buggy was pulled up close to me. I was rustling through my handbag trying to sort out the loose change that had somehow escaped from my purse (story of my life- where do all of those coppers come from?!?!)
when my son giggled to himself from his buggy, out of nowhere. I looked up to discover that he was leaning forwards to catch a better view of a seagull that was sat on the pavement infront of us, and laughing at it. 

Yep, he was laughing at a seagull. 

The seagull was sat still, doing absolutely nothing humorous, but we sat there for a good while watching it and my son continued to laugh and flap with excitement at this random bird. 

I suddenly realised that this was the happiest he'd been all day. He was having a lovely time and it cost me absolutely nothing. 

This isn't the first instance; I often take him along the seafront in his buggy and catch him watching the birds as they fly high above us, or see him smiling at the children running past. He adores being outside, watching the big buses drive through the city, spotting a cat sat upon a wall or hearing the siren on an ambulance. He is fascinated by his surroundings and I've acknowledged that. 

If you can see the world through a child's eyes, even if only for a moment, you'll find plenty of ways to spoil them without spending money on them and you'll create fond memories that they'll look back on in years to come. 

I've realised that as long as I spend quality time with Etienne, show him new things, talk to him, read to him sing and explore with him, he will not only be a happy little boy, but also flourish in his learning and development.

Quality time is so much more valuable to children than having money spent on them; whatever their age. 

When he's older I'll be able to let him explore an even wider variety of things like; crunching on leaves, splashing in puddles, building a snowman, doing pencil rolls down hills in the sunshine or fishing in rock pools. Notice how not one of these things costs money? Notice how you probably remember doing things like this when you were little? 

When I look back on my childhood, I feel warmed by happy, comforting memories. These memories do not consist of the toys I played with or the gifts I was bought. I remember feeding the ducks at the village pond, sifting through leaves to find conkers with my dad, being tucked up in bed at night and read a good night story by my mum, spending hours drawing, seafront walks with the dog, being cared for when I was unwell, sledging in the snow and just being loved and taken care of in general. Even on my birthdays, I was more excited about my party than I was the presents; having all of my friends and family come together and enjoy my special day. Playing games and running around with my friends. The presents were great too, but if you asked me to name a few of the presents I received at one of my parties, I couldn't tell you. Ask me about the party itself and I'll be able to reel off a heap of memories, like my dad being the magicians assistant and totally embarrassing me, or the game of hide and seek in the dark with my friends.  

 From this, It's clear for me to see that all children really need to be happy is a loving, stable environment where they can explore and discover. It will be those fun, special times they spend with you that they will cherish in their memories. 

Even though my son is only a baby, I see it happening already; I buy him a new toy to play with, he plays for five minutes, before ditching it to go and hide behind the sofa and initiate a game of peekaboo with me. 

At 10 months, he's on the go, full on and he's exploring all of his senses every minute of the day, searching for more and more things to learn about and discover.
Like any parent, I sometimes find myself stuck for ideas on how to entertain him every day. It seems that I am far more bothered by this than he is. Even on a rainy day indoors he finds enjoyment out of something as simple as watching the rain fall on the window. 

He reminds me all of the time that what I'm doing is enough. He's a happy little boy and that's all I aim for as a mother.

 I guess to sum it up, my message is this: there's no need to ever feel stuck for inspiration or money in order to be able to give your child a brilliant childhood; children don't need fancy things, they don't need a heap load of toys when they already find magic within their own imaginations. 

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