Ok, this may sound cheesy, but underneath the commercialised ideal of Christmas there is really only a few things children need, and one of the most important is having someone, whether that is mum, dad, simply their main caregiver to be there for them, not only over Christmas but whenever they can.
Life has changed considerably since our grandparents or even our great-grandparents time as parents. Women were brought up to believe that their place was in the home, to clean the house, darn the socks and look after the children. It was the men that went to work. Oh, how things have changed. Both men and women have a choice now to whether they want to work or not, and sometimes this choice has to be made for the financial good of the family. It can be argued that it is good for children to see both parents work as it setting up a good role model for life when the children themselves transform into adults.
I was brought up without one thought of never working or staying at home with children. The philosophy that was given to me by my parents was one that I needed to be able to support myself, not be dependent on anyone. I knew I always wanted to work with children, and so I was encouraged to look at careers that paid a reasonable wage. Family was never on my mind, having children was never discussed. It was simply you go to school, go to college, university and then get a job. Life seemed so simple back then.
My views on stay at home parenting has changed many times throughout the last 20 years and I really do believe that it depends on you personally and your own experiences and feelings. I do not believe there can be a general consensus as what works for one person, will not work for another. For me children are my passion and I have had periods of time when I have been home full time, especially in later years, but in my first child’s early life she had a mixture of different family members and a fantastic childminder helping me and my husband out while we both worked full time. Has this damaged our relationship with her? I certainly wouldn’t think so. We are extremely close and she is also very close to our extended family too due to the early relationships she also made with them.
I now work from home and I try as hard as I can to work around my family life. My children are now growing up, and whereas when they were little I could ‘timetable’ in time with my children when I wasn’t working, it now isn’t quite so easy. For example, when the girls were 7 and 3, I could make sure weekends were spent walking to the beach, going to the park, doing some cooking. Now my oldest is 15, she has her own life, has her own job at the weekends and likes to spend time with her friends and on her phone. It’s not so easy to all have time together. However, I make sure if she is around in an evening or when she comes to find me I stop what I’m doing and give her time when she wants it.
For many children the adults in their home life have to work simply to ensure they can pay the bills and put food on the table and have money for Christmas, birthdays etc. Some adults choose to work because as much as they love their children they will go crazy staying at home. Whatever your decision and circumstances, just remember that although I am sure every child has a Christmas list full of expensive presents and the must have toy, they too want a cuddle, a bed time story, someone to play a game with.
I know when you get home from work you’re probably tired, also thinking through the housework that needs doing, the tea that needs cooking, the buns for the Christmas Fayre that need making. Just take a moment and think, have I given my child the chance to have some time with me? Put your mobile phone down, catch up on those messages once your child has gone to bed, or after you know you have given your child 30 minutes of your time. It doesn’t have to be quantity, simply quality. Every second really does count.