Saturday, June 28, 2008

Reflecting in the silence...

Dad has taken Izaak out for the day today - they were off to the movies so little miss and I had hot choccies and scones for morning tea after which she crashed out on the couch. My house is eerily silent and so while contemplating how to get a massive box made into a house that I promised, I'm contemplating lots of things that are happening at the moment in my life.

For years (well, since I've been a mum) I look forward to the annual toy sales - Big W, Kmart & Target all have their sales in the same week. I have been known to stand in a layby line for more than an hour. It has been crazy but I have scored some real bargains. I think that the past 12 months have changed me though in many ways - I'm considering our ecological footprint alot more, thinking about how consumption influences our family etc. So this year the catalogues are out and one of the companies has a Ben 10 watch for half price. My son would give his right arm for one of them and I was sooo tempted but really - does he need it? It'll be the favourite for a week or two and then tossed into the dark, scary depths of the toy box never to be seen again. Similarly, there was a dolls pram that looked like a good bargain but I bought one last year for the little misses birthday and Stuart gets the occassional ride but otherwise it sits here unused for the most part. So I had one moment of excitement and then sat back and really thought about it. My kids have enough toys. More than enough toys and they really don't need anymore.
At the moment the favourite game is 'puppies' where each of them pretends to be a dog and the other takes them for walks to the park, pet shop for food & drink etc etc. I'll admit this keeps them happy for about 5 minutes but it's them playing together without any of that high-tech, expensive, 'must have' toys that makes me feel good.
So why do I get caught up in the consumerism of toy sales? Because as a parent, like 99% of parents, I want my children to be happy, I want them to have what they want, the best toys, the most toys, the things that they tell me they really want and the companies know that and play on it. TV ads lately have caught Izaaks attention and he is really taking advertising material in now. Yesterday I was told I "have" to go to ticketek to get tickets for the Dora show "because the man on TV said that we can't miss it". I worry about how Izaak will cope with these sorts of things as he gets older because he is autistic and takes everything so literally I'm concerned that he will be a prime target for con jobs and will get taken advantage of. I'm trying now to get him to see things in ads - he wanted to go to the golden arches the other day because of the toys that they advertise on TV. In the end I took him (which says alot for the pester power of 6 year olds!) and because of sensory issues he refuses to eat the meat patty or the bread and won't drink softdrink because the dentist told him not too (again, issues around literal meanings) so I went and bought him a happy meal for him to eat a few chips, a piece of cheese (which I'm not sure is even cheese - the colour is just all wrong!) and pickles. All because of the toy that they were advertising so we talked later about it and by no means have I broken the cycle but I think I may have planted a seed in there - here's hoping!
Anyway, back to my point - the kids are bombarded with ads telling them what they "need/must" have and so I'm trying to change my thinking from subscribing to those sorts of ideals to teaching them about why/how advertising works and ways we can get around it. This year my goal was to make or buy handmade for all the birthdays/holidays and so far (with the exception of a toy for my nephew) I'm doing well. We've had my grandma, mum, dad, 2 nephews and a cousins birthdays so far with my sister and both the kids to go as well as christmas.
So I've closed the catalogues and I will not be attending the toy sales for the first time in about 7 years and I will instead be trawling the net looking for christmas ideas which I can make for the little people in my life.


Michelle said...

Good for you in taking a stand! I think it's part of the living simply approach. I've been trying to embrace it too. It's hard though!

See you on Thursday night at SnB? Hope so!

Michelle said...

Hi again Bec,

Here's a blog which you might be interested in, and particularly this post!

M xx

Deb aka "Mooska" said...

It is difficult to not be influenced by the bombardment of advertising in all shapes and forms which is often directed at our children. We live on a rural property so thankfully we don't get the catalogs.
As far as tv goes i really limit what my kids watch mainly due to the advertising. There is no Saturday morning cartoons in our house! Instead my kids get up in the mornings and create their own games, draw, dance, play cars, create things or read.
This didn't happen overnight, two of my kids are my step-kids and live in Melbourne with their Mum, where they have pretty much unlimited tv, so it was quite difficult in the beginning, but it is well worth it now.
We still enjoy movie nights and watch some programs, but we mute the ads and use this time for discussion or snack runs :)
We also make our own gifts and cards 90% of the time which has become really enjoyable.
Having said all this, we are all still influenced dramatically and I at times feel guilty for restricting tv, especially when other kids seem to be watching everything. But then i watch my kids playing in the mornings without a thought for the tv and i smile.