We’re all so tired. There’s so much worry, so much stress, so much fear, so much anger.
If you’ve been around Baba+Boo before, you’ve probably heard us going on about this before: talking about how reusables nappies are about much more than just being kinder to the planet and our pockets.
It’s part of something that enriches us and calms us. It’s about something that offers us greater financial - and emotional - stability.
It’s about living more simple lives.
When we live with less there is less to clutter our minds. We spend less time on ‘stuff’ - less time researching, buying, cleaning, maintaining and, eventually, getting rid of it. And we spend more time on the things that really count: our babies, our hobbies, our friends and our families.
Our little ones benefit, too - not just from the extra time they spend with us. Children who own less toys are more creative and imaginative, they have greater concentration and are far less likely to get bored, and they are better at playing - and sharing - with others.
It makes sense, really.
We all know that if there are 20 things on our to-do list, then we get overwhelmed. If there are two things, then we have the focus and brain space to really get to grips with the issue, and give it our best shot.
That’s how it is when we surround our children with stuff. They’re overwhelmed, constantly flipping from one thing one to another. They never get settled, never finish what they start, never learn to dig deep enough to immerse themselves: to experiment and discover, to get creative and explore all the possibilities of what that one little thing can do.
We’ve been taught, since before we could think for ourselves, that buying stuff is Good. That our babies need constant stimulation; that we need yet another gadget to make our lives easier. That new stuff gives us a lift; that spending money on useless crap for others shows them we care.
This year, of all years, we really need to do things differently. For our finances, and for our mental health.
Most of us simply cannot afford to splash out, that’s obvious. What’s perhaps less obvious is that we don’t have the headspace either. We don’t have the headspace to deal with the planning and shopping, the waste, the mess and the time-sucking tidying that inevitably follow a Christmas of excess.
This year, if we start now, we can do things differently.
Grandparents, godparents, friends, aunts and uncles: we can choose gifts that save space, financial strain and headspace; not those that contribute to them.
And parents: we can ask for gifts that will set our children on that path to deep play and simplicity. Instead of laughing in frustration as they play with the box, we can embrace what our children are telling us: the box really is more interesting than the toy.
It’s OK to ask for the things that make your life and your child’s life easier. It’s OK to offer and suggest gifts that make the lives of our family and friends easier.
Imagine offering a gift that looks lovely - and saves the receiver two, or even three hundred pounds. Like a nappy.
Imagine asking for a gift that is functional and feels luxurious - that you know you want to use, but are struggling to justify - and saves you from ever running out again. A gift like reusable make-up pads.
If two sets of grandparents each buy your little one a bundle of five nappies? Then your family can save hundreds of pounds, and the head space that’s taken up with standing at the nappy aisle pondering whether to buy the money-saving-over-time-but-too-much-right-now mega box; or the manageable-right-now-but-more-expensive-in-the-long-run 30 pack.
If each loving aunt, your best friend and the ante-natal Secret Santa buy a nappy each? You’re well on the way to building up a stash that saves your time, money and energy.
Of course, it’s not just about nappies. Perhaps for you it looks like better quality clothes, a toy library subscription or some funky reusable straws.
Yes, it seems early to be thinking about Christmas. But if we start now, we give ourselves and our families the time - and permission - to think differently, and to do things differently.
The result? A happier, less stressful and more financially secure Christmas and New Year for us, and our little ones.
We’ll be writing a lot more over the next few weeks about how we can look after each other this Christmas. If you have any experiences or ideas that you think our little community, please do tell us so we can pass them on.