As a parent, I think it’s quite a norm for us to strive to give the best to our child. It seems that the moment we heard our child’s first cry (or even when we confirmed the pregnancy), we’re caught up in giving him all the best that life has to offer — which some can also literally equate to giving him all the best clothes, all the best stuff, all the best toys, all the best classes and activities, and so on. But when we stop to think, is providing more of everything really the “best” way to raise a child?
The truth we have to admit as parents is, we will fail in our quest to give everything to our kids. Whether it’s due to financial limitations or other considerations, the fact is, we ourselves have our own limits. And hence, we will be unable to give them every toy they ask for. We cannot always afford to send them to the best schools or activities. And realistically, we cannot protect them all the time. So, do these “shortcomings” really make us a bad mum?
Before we succumb to mummy guilt thinking about it, let’s consider another side. The side that says there is good in giving less to kids. Because giving less means that they will be able to get more out of life. Here’s how:
Fewer toys = more creativity, more learnings
Just like any parent, I was a very much happy toy enabler to my daughter. Mind you, she’s not the type of kid who wails in the toy store whenever she doesn’t get what she wants. In fact, she can happily walk out of 10 toy stores empty-handed. But her mama, ahem — me, can’t. So she happily reaped the toy benefits. However, I’m turning a new leaf and rethinking this strategy, because:
- I want my daughter to harness her creativity and increase her attention span. I’ve noticed that even if she has piles of toys, she usually has her “favourites” — a number of toys that she plays with every which way in a span of time. This somehow coincides with a study that says kids tend to play more when they have less toys. These days, I also make it a point to store and rotate her toys — I pack her “non-favourites” up and store them, then take them out again after a few months. Doing so ensures that she makes the most out of each toy and that she has a ready supply of “new” stuff without us actually buying anything.
- I want my daughter to learn an important lesson about gratitude and money. It can be hard to teach our kids a lesson in gratitude when the toys are coming in a steady stream. So since she’s growing up, we’ve decided to use toys as a way to teach her about money — importantly, that it has to be earned and it’s limited. So we have started to give her a weekly allowance which she will then split into three: spend, save, and give. Save will be deposited to her savings account every few months, give will be given to a charity come the Holiday season, and spend will be the only money she can use to buy any toy she wants. Having her own funds allowed her to budget and discern over each toy purchase — choosing which one is the better value and it also made her more grateful for the toys she does have. She now treats each toy more respectfully because she knows the value of each, and she herself saved up for them when the money in her spend jar was still insufficient.
- I want my daughter to see the downfalls of overconsumption and the value of less is more. One good thing about letting my daughter buy her own toys using her own money is that half the toys that she thought she wanted turned out to be unnecessary when she realised that she would have to pay for them herself. So she, in her own way, was able to see the difference of her “needs” and “wants” in terms of toys — which I hope she can translate and still use in real-world terms when she grows up. At the same time, exposing her to a more minimalist lifestyle would allow her to appreciate that living with less, sometimes means more. Fewer toys and stuff means more money in her bank account and more living space at home. And more importantly, more imagination, creativity, and more gratitude.
Less protection = more independence and life lessons.
In the same way that we try to give them everything, it’s also common for us parents to protect our kids from the “big, bad” world. Sometimes turning into overprotective or helicopter parents. Helicopter parents or helicopter parenting refers to parents who are overly protective and involved in their child’s life, which might already be bordering in controlling instead of supportive. I’d like to think that I’m not one, but admittedly, it can be hard especially once my daughter started school. It’s hard to let her go on her own and deal with teachers and other kids. However, it wouldn’t be as hard as to how life would be for her if she doesn’t get a taste of independence and learn to stand on her own two feet because of all my hovering. So I try to not hover too much and remember that:
- Too much protection could have an adverse effect on my daughter’s self-esteem. Making all her decisions for her and resolving all her problems will definitely not boost her self-esteem. It will only render her dependent to me for all her major decisions, which is not a good thing considering that there’s a high possibility that she’ll outlive me. At the same time, doing so will fail to equip her with the right life-skills that will enable her to live and excel in the real world. I intend to raise an empowered daughter who’s willing to take on the world, and if doing so means that I have to stomp down on my protective-mother hen instincts sometimes, then I’ll gladly do so.
- I owe my child wisdom, aside from protection. No matter how protective most parents can be, we cannot guarantee our kids’ protection 100% every time. Rather than protecting, we can try to run “interference” when necessary — filtering real world bleakness in an age-appropriate manner and trying to put reason and light in a sometimes unreasonable and dark world. We may owe our kids our love and protection, but we owe them a certain amount of real-world wisdom as well. And letting them experience pain, fear, and frustration allows our kids to grow wise and strong.
- It’s my job to teach her life lessons. Other than protection, I think what’s more imperative for us parents to do, is to teach and help our kids learn important life lessons that will give them the right skills, defenses, and self-knowledge to thrive in our world. And yes, this includes the tough and painful ones. Because sometimes, it’s the small hurts that could build them up to be stronger and better prepared for the bigger hurts that would most definitely come their way.
Fewer activities = more quality time
These days, it’s quite common for parents to pack so many activities for their kids. Extra-curricular activities and classes are good, but I have noticed that along with our work, our daughter’s various classes, and other technological distractions such as the Internet, social media, and TV, we barely have time to bond as a family. So in the same way as I’m cutting back on toys, I’m trying to cut back on various kiddie activities as well and prioritising family time, because:
Study has shown that kids get more out of experiences than from the latest toy or gadget. This is because experiences are more likely to include an emotional connection — a trip to the zoo with the whole family allows us to bond more with our kids than a few hours spent playing with the latest toy. And chances are, that trip spent with us is more likely to get stored as a happy and long-lasting memory.
- Quality time = more childhood memories made. Childhood memories are important because these can build an emotional foundation for our kids to turn to in times when they are stressed, sad, anxious, or worried. These happy childhood memories can serve as our kids’ anchor whenever life gets tough.
- The experience matter, not the place nor money spent. It doesn’t take a lot to make my daughter happy — as I’m sure most kids are. So a day spent with us out at a park or getting ice cream wherein we’re all happy and engaged — without phones or gadgets, will definitely make it to her list of “happy childhood memories.” She will treasure and never outgrow these childhood memories — which is not something I can say for toys no matter how expensive they are.
No added sugars in milk = more goodness of milk!
The concept of less is more does not stop in parenting concepts, but can be applied in our kid’s formulated milk powder as well. How about choosing formulated milk powder for children with No Added Sugars?
According to the latest statistics from the National Health and Morbidity Survey, more than 6% of children in Malaysia under five years of age have been identified as overweight. While almost 12% of children and teenagers under the age of 18 are either overweight or obese.
So why is excessive sugar in our kid’s diet bad?
- It increases the likelihood of obesity
- It has an impact on taste preference — likely boosting their sweet tooth
- It increases their risk of dental cavities
Hence, kids do not need excessive added sugars in their diet. So why have them in our child’s formulated milk powder?
Anmum Essential is the only formulated milk powder for children with 0% Added Sugars* and 100% Goodness of Milk. Now with Mind-Q Connect, contains DHA and 2x More GA® (Gangliosides)**.
So parents, maximise your child’s brain cells connections today with proper stimulation together with good nutrition.
Don’t be afraid to give less to your kids, because you’re helping them get more out of life.
Try Anmum Essential today!
*Sucrose, Glucose Syrup Solid, Corn Syrup Solid, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Lactose, Fructose, Honey and White Sugar are defined as ‘sugars’ and ‘added sugars’ under CODEX Standard 212-1999 and CAC/GL23-1997. CODEX develops harmonised international food standards guidelines and code of practices.
Under Malaysia Food Regulations 1985, Sucrose, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Glucose, Fructose, Honey are defined as sweetening substances.
Under Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code – Standard 1.1.2, Glucose Syrup, Maltodextrin and similar products are defined as ‘sugars’
**Compared to previous formulation.
References: Parenting, 2 Know Myself, We Have Kids, Keep Your Child Safe, Huffington Post, Mother Nature Network, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Quartz, Teen Ink
*Published with Anmum™ Essential