Most toys aren’t made with parents in mind. Most gift-giving is well-intentioned but can be woeful for us mothers and fathers who have to live with the gift. So I’ll make it simple for you. Here’s what not to give the children in your life.
- Anything that has more than 5 parts in the box. It’s OK if the parts assemble together permanently, but if they don’t, put the box down and walk away from that aisle. I swear, that 125-piece food play set was sent from Satan himself. Items will get lost, trampled on, thrown, strewn all over the floor and eventually end up in the trash can.
- Anything that doesn’t have an on/off switch. Because nothing will drive you to the brink of insanity like a toy that can’t be shut off.
- Anything that doesn’t have volume control. Yes, that singing Elsa doll is oh so cute and the little girl will be delighted. But after two weeks of hearing “Let It Go” belted out over and over and over at full blast, it will take everything within the parent’s power not to beat the every living crap out of the doll. If the volume can be lowered, such as LeapFrog’s Scout, the toy’s lifespan just got longer.
- Anything that requires special markers or paper to work. For example, Crayola’s Color Explosion Set. Sure, it’s cool. But it’s advertised as “this Crayola Color Explosion set offers kids endless surprising fun.” Guess what? It’s not bloody endless. It’s 18 pages and that’s it. For a 3-4 year old, that’s gone in perhaps 3-5 minutes. Then they ask for more, the parent is empty-handed, staring at a sobbing child. So if you must buy something like this (because it is cool!), include lots of extra paper or markers so that it’s not a bust within 10 minutes.
- Any toy that requires an internet access. There will be war within the household if the toy is a hit and the kid wants to take it everywhere where it just becomes useless. This is one that you really need to check with the parent on. If the child is old enough to understand internet access is not everywhere, then it’s OK. But if not, then the tantrums will be epic and endless.
- Check if the toy requires special batteries. Batteries that are beyond AA or AAA are a problem. God forbid the battery is CR2032. The parent will either spend an entire paycheck in Target getting what’s needed, or have to wait a month for a bulk shipment from China.
- Do not get a gift that is not age appropriate. Getting a 5-yr old a gift that is meant for an 8-yr old only means the parent has to constantly interact/explain the toy and eventually, it gets tossed aside by frustration.
Things you can do to make the parent love you –
1. If the toy requires batteries, bring them along too. Few things are as thoughtful as this gesture, no matter what the toy.
2. Check with the parent what the child is into. If he/she has a set of something (e.g. My Little Pony dolls), ask which one the child is missing and commit to the parent to buy that one missing piece. Then follow through.
3. If the gift requires assembly, make sure the necessary tools are included in the package. But still refer to #1 above.
So, what are your pet-peeves with your kid(s) Christmas gifts?
7:00am – That damn alarm goes off. Rat Bastard.
7:07am – Fully dressed & ready for the day, I go wake the 6-year old tropical storm for school. The 3-year old is up already.
7.15am – Make it downstairs by carrying each child individually.
7:16am – First tantrum of the day because the 3-year old’s pancakes are too hot. Thankfully, the 6-year old takes them.
7.17am – Tantrum escalates higher when I refuse to give the 3-year old a chocolate sandwich for breakfast.
7:20am – Peace negotiations calm the escaped mental patient as we agree to “hot chocolate coffee” which is warm milk with Ovaltine served in a cup.
7:25-7:50am – Make sure 6-year-old is dressed, brushed teeth & hair, while persuading 3-year-old that I am not abandoning him.
7:50-8:20am – Drive oldest to school.
8:25am – Make coffee for me.
8:26am – Youngest needs to play doctor and examine me.
8:30am – Listen to hubby rant about work. Drink my coffee while he talks. Wonder if it’s too early to put Bailey’s in my coffee.
8:49am – Hubby leaves for work. Mental patient is satisfied that I am in situ and goes to the backyard to write letters & numbers with chalk.
8:50am – I sit down.
8:51am – Youngest demands to get dressed. Dress him but he dislikes his shirt intensely and demands another one. I allow this to occur because he has only about 5 shirts that he will wear and today, I tried a new one unsuccessfully.
8:53am – Go upstairs to get an approved shirt and notice that my husband has not made our bed (again, as in every.damn.day) even though he is the last one out. Make our bed. Grab green shirt for the boy.
8:57am – Put a bandage on the number 4 repeatedly.
9:00am – Check bank balance to see if I have enough money in checking for small grocery shop.
9:07am – Put Pocoyo on TV so that I can stare in hopelessness at the kitchen I need to clean up.
9:15am – Receive call about some tax news. Have nervous breakdown and begin research while I plonk kid in front of TV.
10:25am – Clean kitchen.
10:40am – Feed the beast.
10:50am – Check coupons for shopping.
11am – Pack up rugrat and head to store.
12:35pm – Back from store and have to convince 3-year old child that I cannot deliver Christmas today.
12:36pm – Unpack groceries and begin cleaning the kids’ bedroom. I don’t look in the playroom. That would be scary.
1:58pm – Have some lunch for myself and the smallie.
2:05pm – Begin searching online for Christmas toys.
2:15pm – Actually spend time snuggling, tickling & kissing my son.
2:45pm – Leave to pick up oldest from school. On the way home, discuss with her how a star didn’t make the apartment building currently under construction.
3:15pm – Home, snack, and start doing the week’s homework. This takes an abnormally long time today because we normally can do a whole week’s worth of homework in 45 minutes. But today took two hours because she needed everything to be perfect and I refused to spell out words for her (suggested to me by her teacher). As soon as I walked away, saying I was starting dinner, she completed all the remaining homework in 5 minutes. More than had been done the previous hour. All the while, I had to keep the 3-year old away from his sister. At one point, he found the numbers on the printer in Daddy’s office and decided to wreak havoc on it. So when I locked him out of the office, another epic 10-minute tantrum started. I’m surprised someone didn’t call the cops for the length, volume and pitch of his screams. Sigh. I need a drink.
5:15pm – Start cooking dinner. I am taking the bowls and utensils directly from the clean dishwasher, because I have neither the energy or motivation to actually empty it at this point. It’s pasta tonight because it’s easy and both of them will eat it.
5:37pm – The boy refuses to eat the pasta.
5:40pm – He declares his bum is sore and needs cream. Oh joy. The excitement just never ends.
5:43pm – Begin picking up the strewn toys all over the floor that the escaped mental patient threw while I was doing homework with the kindergartener.
6:00pm – Make daughter’s lunch for school tomorrow and save in fridge.
6:09pm – Begin the mental countdown to kids’ bedtime. It used to be 7:30pm but I found that 7pm worked just oh so much better for me.
6:10pm – Try to breathe slowly to lower my blood pressure. TV is on and three shows have been declared. One hour to go. One hour to go. I can make it. I can do this.
6:15pm – Begin texting husband who does bedtime routine that the clock is ticking.
6:16pm – I sit down and play Candy Crush to escape reality for 5 minutes.
6:25pm – play with the kids, lots of laughter, kisses and tickles.
7:15pm – World starts falling apart (youngest is so tired now). Daddy on his way home so bedtime will be soon.
7:20pm – Chaos ensues so I usher everyone to the bathroom for teeth and potty. We’re done here.I sit in precious silence as Daddy takes to them in their bedroom.
7:30pm -8:00pm – Silence over. Daddy is done with bedtime. Talking with hubby about our day.
8:00pm – 9:30pm – ME TIME.
9:30pm – Head to bedroom and contemplate having a shower that I desperately need, but just have no motivation for.
9:45pm – Go to bed, catch up on Facebook, take a deep breath.
10.45pm – Sleep. Hopefully.
The Haggard Mommy…. oh wait. . .