Children in the UK are consistently found to rank below the vast majority of children in the developed world in terms of well-being.
In fact four years ago, the UK was shown to have the lowest child well being levels in the developed world.
How bloody depressing is that?
These are the shocking findings of a Child Well Being Report issued by Unicef this week and quite honestly it makes me desperately sad.
These are our children. The love of our lives.
And what makes children happy isn’t exactly a revelation: The report says they want time with a happy, stable family, good friends and plenty of things to do, especially outdoor. But it adds that parents in the UK struggle to find time to be with their children or help them participate in sporting and creative activities.
Material goods don’t make them happy. They just fill a hole.
It’s that awful Catch 22 situation. Many parents need or have to work to stay afloat, but the draw on their time means that family life suffers.
And I’ve seen first hand those parents who buy expensive gifts to ‘compensate’ for never being around.
My husband and I took the decision to give our lives over to giving our kids a great childhood long ago.
We both work, many times during the evening to catch up.
But we also spend most weekends on the sidelines of a muddy rugby pitch somewhere in the UK watching our boy throw himself around after a ball.
We are constantly falling into bed at the end of a day of swimming, or walking, or cycling, tramping through the local forest or grubbing in the dirt.
We ‘waste’ a Saturday watching back to back DVDs together in a darkened living room or sit and play Monopoly while the washing/ironing/cleaning remains undone.
On a whim we go looking for bugs after school or go trampolining in a friend’s back garden.
So what if the house is dirty or Mia has to go to school with a slightly creased top?
It may be a simplistic view of the world, but in my experience many naughty kids are bored kids and I never want my two to go down that route.
We’re by no means perfect, but we’re bloody trying our hardest. They only get one childhood.
As parents, time is the most valuable thing we own.
Money is great, fancy holidays lovely, stuff is just, well stuff. It comes and goes and if you become materialistic you will NEVER be satisfied.
But give someone your time and they will be forever grateful.
Children don’t want to be lavished with goods (no matter how much they beg for them). They want you; all of you, the you that isn’t distracted by the computer or TV or tapping away on your smart phone.
So give them your undivided attention and let’s help change this shocking statistic around.