There was a moment in my relationship this week were my husband looked at me and said: “Where is the woman I married?”
It came as I sat and re-tidied away a load of toys he’d already tidied, explaining to him that you couldn’t mix the metal cars with the plastic, and the helicopter, aeroplanes, caravans and motorbikes all had baskets of their own.
One upon a time, I didn’t mind if a CD was in the wrong box or pants got into the sock drawer, but during the last four years I have become obsessive about sorting and storing toys.
I have turfed coats out of cupboards and replaced them with toys: we have given over our hallway to Megablocks, train sets, garages and giant monster trucks.
Where once we dreamed of owning a sports car, we now fantasise about having a playroom where everything can be thrown, out of sight and the door closed.
I almost dread visiting friends with children because invariably their kids will have a toy that mine don’t have and will want.
I break out in a cold sweat if my eldest asks if he can watch anything other than a BCC kids TV channel, because I know that after each ad break 10 more toys will have been added to his Christmas and birthday list.
Incidentally, top of the list this year is a pooing dog game, and I guarantee it will be a best seller with all 4 – 6 year olds.
It’s either time for marriage counselling or to stop the influx of toys into our house and I have decided it’s the latter. I haven’t got time for counselling, for a start!
Both my children share a birthday in November, closely followed by their dad’s and then Christmas.
It was hardly a surprise when mid-January this year my eldest came to me and asked: “Mummy, when do we get our presents?”
So, bravely or stupidly (only time will tell) I have taken the decision to ask party guests not to bring a present. Instead, if they wish, there will be a suitable receptacle at the venue where they can make a donation to the latest piece of expensive plastic they want.
Grandparents, aunties and uncles – if you’re reading this, you’re not off the hook!
I’m even cutting back on the parties. It wasn’t too difficult where my eldest was concerned. He has just started school and has now declared all girls ‘smelly’.
With only six boys in his class that’s immediately narrowed down the guest list. My youngest is having his party at our local toddler group -no invitations necessary, all food provided (juice and a biscuit) and the guests pay for themselves (£2).
With all this money I’ll be saving I should put it towards the big bash in 16 years’ time when they turn 18 and 21 respectively. Well, that’s what a sensible parent would do but I’ve got my eye on a lovely pair of shoes, something else I’m obsessive about!
By Anna Melton