Almost every marketing and advertising campaign aimed at parents is about making more time for family time. Time is the biggest deficit for most parents and if you have a guilt-inducing ‘perfect mum’, that I write about in my book, in your head, you are definitely susceptible to this sort of messaging. I am 100% in this group. Less cleaning, more dreaming and quality moments being present with family and friends.
But is it true? Can you really buy more time with products designed to be easy and intuitive?
It’s true that some products are better than others for making life easier. An all in one travel system is great for moving a little one between the car and the pram frame and will last a long time too. Some parents tell me that reusable nappies are great because you only buy them once and washing fits right in with your other household chores anyway. I was too lazy for this or too busy with other priorities. Although from a sustainability point of view, I think if we were to have that accident 3rd baby, I would be more tempted this time round now that we know so much more.
Despite the marketing campaigns, things you really need for a baby are actually pretty basic and as they grow up, their needs might change a little but ultimately revolve around food, clothes and hugs. Lots of hugs, ah you can’t beat them. Spending more at this stage isn’t going to solve any further problems, it’s just a way to avoid your guilt. So go easy on yourself!
Some Products are worth the extra spend
There are lots of products that aren’t worth the spend. Top of this list is the baby food maker – you already have a blender! Equally, buying a special changing table when you already have a mat is truly a waste of money. Let’s not get started on the wipe warmer. I think with the chat of so many going on a spending detox, it’s good to stop and think about if you REALLY need something or not. Also, what makes your soul happy?
In my opinion, the products and services that are truly worth your money are those that ease family life, make you more time-efficient and don’t replicate the same function as something else in your home.
Time Management is About More Than Stuff
Capitalism is designed to make you think that solutions can be bought. As I often say, happiness doesn’t sell very well. The secret is that you probably don’t even need a solution in the first place.
Let’s take playing with the kids as an example. Us busy parents often feel guilty about not spending enough time with our kids but what we often forget to consider is that we didn’t spend all our time with mum and dad. Plus, playing alone is great for kids to build their independence and pursue their interests. I was a 3rd child so go figure.
If you do want to spend more time with your kinds, instead of sacrificing the things you have to do, involve them. Sure, a toddler won’t do a great job of folding the washing but they will be happy enough to be talking to you and playing. I enjoy exercising with the kids too as it’s bonding for us and of course healthy for our bodies and minds.
Quality Time is Best
Of course, the real issue with feeling time-poor is the assumption that it’s the number of minutes or hours you put in, not the quality of that time. Kids actually understand that you can’t be with them every minute of the day – they’d be irritated by you if you were. I am not about smothering our little people and all for raising them to be independent. So, instead of increasing the time you spend, think about what you are doing and increase the quality of your time together.
Ultimately, what your kids wants is a few minutes of your undivided attention – not all the time, just some of the time. Don’t pressure yourself to do more or try to do everything at once. Life is chaotic but it’s also beautiful for it. Quality not quantity.