Giving Your Children The Things They Actually Need

As a parent it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to give your child everything they say they want or the luxuries that other people have. Even more so in these days of social media where it's so easy to compare our lives to others.  It makes it easy to forget that so much of what we work hard to provide is really far less important than we think at the time. If you are worried about money in the run up to Christmas and you are wondering how you will afford everything here is a reminder of what your children actually need. 

two sisters in party dresses sitting on the floor and smiling

#1. Love: The feelings of love and affection are the most important things your child need. From skin to skin time in the early moments to finding time to give them your undivided attention later on, those things stick. Even 5 minutes each day just focussing on them will make a difference. While love isn’t all you need (Sorry Lennon and McCartney) it is top of the agenda.

#2. Sleep: As a parent, it’s probably you who will lack a good nights sleep, however it’s important to remember that babies do a lot of their growing and making sense of the world while they are asleep. Even as toddlers and young children all the way through to teenagers, the benefits of a good night’s rest make a big difference to how they develop. 

#3. Safety: Creating a safe and child-friendly home environment is something we can all do to help look after our children. And while accidents can still happen you can reduce the likelihood and the impact by keeping your home safe. 

#4. Nutrition: Growing children need the right nourishment in their diet. It’s important that they drink water regularly supported by a healthy and balanced diet. Trying to get children to eat enough and the right foods is a worry of many parents and while supplementing with vitamins can be helpful my best advice would be to offer a range of healthy foods from the beginning of weaning and don’t make them feel pressured into eating when they don’t want too. 

#5. Support: Children need a lot of medical support throughout those early years. From their early injections at the doctors to checking for hearing or sight issues, you cannot be too careful. If there is something wrong, early identification offers the best chance at finding a good solution. Calling the NHS on 111 if you are worried about anything can be really helpful if you are unsure whether you should be concerned or not and you want to avoid a trip to your GP.

#6. Friends: While the love of family members is a great starting point, all children need friends. Setting up playdates at an early age can aid the development of various key skills, not least the interpersonal ones needed for later life. If you don’t know children around the same age then look for classes at your local Children’s Centre which are often free or low cost.

A baby being held and waving over mum's shoulder

#7. Stability: It’s an unfortunate fact that a lot of marriages end after having children; a baby and sleepless nights can put too much pressure of an already unstable relationship.  Research shows that children can do better with a single parent than living in an environment where there is hostility or arguments, but being a single parent family can be financially difficult. Family law experts can give you the best shot following difficult divorces and separations. There may also be benefits you are entitled too and savings you can make to what you spend each month to make life less difficult. 

#8. Creativity: Even at an early age children can enjoy a variety of creative tasks. My eldest has always enjoyed art and my toddler showed a clear interest in music and dancing from just a few months old. It can be great to support children to play sports or an instrument, but this isn't always affordable. Our primary school offers the opportunity to attend sports classes after school and children can also have joint music lessons in school hours which reduces the cost. There are also a range of activities you can help them pursue from home, with the help of online tutorials like YouTube meaning you can choose to invest money only when there is a clear commitment.

#9. Rules: My parenting style has never involved harsh punishments or the naughty step, but I believe it is very important that children develop a clear understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. Whatever your view on whether kids need discipline, consistency is key and if you threaten something eg “if you run off again we are going home” you have to be prepared to follow it through. Children from a young age can learn that their behaviour (good and bad) has consequences.

#10. Happiness: If your child is healthy and happy, that’s the best that you could ever really ask for them. All kids are different, and only you can work out what works best for your son or daughter. They may grumble if you don’t give them the latest must have toy on Christmas Day, but it won’t be what makes the memories of their childhood that they look back on as an adult.

***Disclosure: This is a collaborative post***

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