Goodbye Cuddly – The end of an era


That little orange square in Maya’s hand is her cuddly. It’s a comforter we got free with Hipp baby food that’s been her almost constant companion since she was six months old. After 4 years of use, cuddly was looking more than a little worse for wear – his once bright orange had faded to a muddy beige and he’d been sewn up so many times, he was only half the size he once was. It didn’t make Maya love him any less.

Every night she’s needed cuddly to go to sleep. We’ve had to bring him with us everywhere as if she asks for him and we didn’t have him, we’d be met with unstoppable tears. Cuddly was an instant way of calming her down if she was upset – I’d hand him to her and she’d instantly start sucking her thumb and be quiet. You’re probably guessing where this story is heading and in my defence, I did buy some replacement cuddlies when Maya was still a baby. In fact she insisted on having two at once for a while, until one was stolen by a monkey. As she got older she refused them and would throw them away angrily if we tried to offer her a replacement.

The photo at the top shows you how sad Maya got just when cuddly got wet at the beach so you can imagine how she must feel now that he’s vanished completely.

Yes cuddly is with us no longer and I wasn’t sure how she was going to cope when this day came. I still don’t know what happened – in a hurry to leave to stay overnight at her grandparents I shoved him in the bag. Once we arrived I don’t remember if I gave him to Maya or not but we couldn’t find him and had to go to sleep without him for the first time. Maya was inconsolable but I still had hopes he’d turn up – he’s been lost a million times before and usually Maya’s tucked him away in the fridge or under a stone in the temple and we eventually find him. Not this time. He wasn’t at home when we returned and he hasn’t been found since.

I read Maya the story of Dogger, in which a little boy loses his favourite toy but they find him again in the end. I suggested that maybe cuddly was off having an adventure and he’d turn up when he was ready. It’s been more than a little heartbreaking watching Maya deal with this – it’s almost as if someone has died. She even said to me the next day, “Mummy, I know where cuddly is – he’s in the sky”.

It’s been two weeks now and I’m proud of her for coping so well and sleeping without her best friend every night with the minimum amount of fuss and tears. It’s so very sad – she still asks me every day if I’ve found him. So I thought I’d compile a little selection of photos of cuddly throughout the years – as Maya’s grown up he’s been her constant companion. Goodbye cuddly, you were a good friend 馃檨

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Adventures in weaning


Kiran had his last breastfeed about a week and a half ago so I think I can say at this point that he’s finally weaned. This was rather overdue – I’d alwaya intended to stop around the 2 year mark (I’m not one of those women who can breastfeed their kids until they’re 4+ though I have huge respect for those who do). After over 3 years of breastfeeding with only a 3 month break between weaning Maya and Kiran being born, I was done. I wanted my body back!

I knew weaning Kiran was never going to be an easy task as he was far more attached than Maya ever was. Maya was down to only a couple of feeds a day when I started weaning her at 10 months and by the time I totally phased it out at 12 months, she barely noticed. I substituted night feeds for a bottle of water and that was that.

Kiran however would scream at me if I refused and work himself up into quite a state. His word for feeding is “numbedik” – a contraction of the Balinese for “little drink”, minum bedik, 聽and I was getting really tired of those being his first words to me every time he saw me. Obviously a simple distraction/refusal plan was never going to work with Kiran.

I’d heard that Japanese women put sticking plasters over聽their nipples and say they have an “owie” so I tried this first. It worked right up until bed time when he started hysterically screaming at me again and telling me to take the plaster off. in desperation i googled and found a mumsnet thread where several women had put vinegar on their nipples with success. i’d already tried the Balinese method of coffee a few months back with no success but I had vinegar in the house so worth a try right?

The next time he tried I told him that because I had “owies”聽and it hurt he could try but it would taste bad. Of course he wanted to try, which he soon regretted. He didn’t try again after that :p I couldn’t believe it was so easy after all that effort! He did ask a few more times and asked if it “still hurt numbedik?” but I just showed him the plasters again and he gave up. 28 months – not a bad run!

Freeeeeeeedom! I was also an emotional wreck when I weaned Maya (i guess being heavily pregnant didn’t help) but no hormonal craziness this time. Hurray!

Even better, since he’s been weaned he’s slept through the night at least twice. This has NEVER happened before. He’s nappy-free at night time now too. Where did my baby go?!


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I felt like posting but my brain is too fried to write so here is a post that is mostly photos. I’m finding time slipping away from me from an alarming rate recently. Already half way through May. Nearly half way through the year. All my plans and goals are sitting waiting and somehow every day I end up with less and less time and get nothing done, promising “tomorrow” and then wake up late with a headache and the day is a blur of tears and crayons and peppa pig and flying wooden play food and before I know it the day is over and I admit defeat, too tired to even try. Ah well.

We’re all looking forward to grandma visiting next month and all I want to do is decorate and organise and shop for things I don’t need with that imaginary money i don’t make because I’m not getting any work done. Keep on swimming…

Boys Vs. Girls


Before I had kids I always believed that gender stereotypes didn’t really exist and were the result of parents pushing their ideas onto their offspring. Since having a boy and a girl I know differently. I’m no stickler for raising “gender neutral” kids – I enjoy dressing Maya in pretty outfits. However if she picks out one of Kiran’s outfits to wear I don’t stop her. Likewise, Kiran’s been known to wear a few pink hello kitty t-shirts in his time and walk around in sparkly sandals exclaiming “pretty!”.

When it comes to toys, I don’t buy “boys toys” and “girls toys” – all the toys are shared equally and they’re free to play with whatever they want. But it’s clear there’s a preference. Maya went through a brief interest for things with wheels but Kiran’s turned into a full-blown obsession. He’ll sometimes refuse to wear clothes unless there’s a picture of a car on it, he’s only interested in the books about cars and trains and of course the little matchbox toys are his favourite – most kids bring a teddy bear to bed but Kiran rushes off and brings a handful of cars. I find cars everywhere – in the bath, in the doll house, in the fridge between the yogurt and watermelon…

Their methods of play are also clearly different. Maya will patiently thread necklaces, build block cities and sit playing with her animals and dolls making up stories. Kiran basically throws things around, smashes down the towers and crashes his cars. He’s terrible for ripping books too and will look me in the eye and do it even though he knows he’ll be in terrible trouble. He just likes to destroy!

Nearly everyone I know with boys talks about how much energy they need to expend, how they need to be outside hitting things with sticks and running around whereas girls will be happy sat doing a quiet activity. And this is one of the main reasons why boys tend to do worse in school as they’re at a disadvantage from the start as most schools expect them to do just that for most of the day. Boys are designed to wear their parents (and teachers) out!

Maya’s a tomboy and I guess this was inevitable as all her cousins are boys. She’ll climb trees and wrestle in the dirt with the rest of them, but still the difference between her and kiran at the same age is pretty clear.

What do you think? social conditioning or genetic programming? And how can I stop this kid tearing up books and scribbling on the wall? Answers on a postcard….


In which I break my little girl’s heart and other tales of bad parenting


Today is Monday. Monday is my Day to Get Stuff Done as it’s my mother in law’s day off when she usually takes the kids all day and I have an entire day to get as much work and other stuff as I can done without distractions.

This morning i got up just after 5am (super early for me) but didn’t get straight to work as I knew i had the whole day. Instead a had a long shower and just browsed around online until Kiran woke up at 6 (also super early for me but he always wakes up early when I do). Made is out doing a tour today and was leaving at 7 so he took Kiran straight over to the inlaws. Maya was still asleep so the plan was for my father in law to pick her up later.

Now Maya is going through a phase where she only wants to be with me and never wants to go to her grandparents house. We usually get around this by me hiding upstairs and working, Made tells her I’ve gone into ubud, she has a tiny winge and then goes off without complaint. This is much easier than the torment of trying to make her leave when she can still hear me… usually…

So after waking Maya up, getting her breakfast and bathed and playing for a bit it was 10am, i still hadn’t got any work done and no sign of father in law. 聽I decide as i’m not going to get anything done anyway, I’ll put maya in the sling (yes, 3.5 year-olds still fit in sakura bloom slings!), we can walk into ubud, she can play with the toys at Bali Buddha while i have a coffee and she might even eat something (she’s also going through a no eating phase). Maya brightened up at the idea of going out and got herself dressed (she’d been refusing to put any clothes on up until this point) and brushed her hair and teeth.

Just before we’re about to head out of the door, father in law turns up to take her over to their house. Of course she doesn’t want to go and even goes inside the house and shuts the door. I take this opportunity to hide around the corner, at which point Father in law tells her i’ve gone out and scoops her up. I can hear her wailing all the way down the road. Guilt guilt guilt.

Of course she doesn’t want to go when she wanted to go out with me and now she thinks I’ve gone without her. Sigh. I can’t even concentrate on work now, I feel so terrible, hence blogging instead. I want to go bring her back.

During this last month or 2 when the internet has been down so much and I haven’t been able to work, i’ve been spending a lot more time with the kids. Maya is at such a fun age now and i really like spending time with her. I can take her out in public without worrying about her trashing the place and she’s also happy to sit and play on her own for ages. I’ve really enjoyed this time of doing very little work, even though it means we’re kind of broke now. Ideally our plan would be for made to work more so I can do less but that’s easier said than done (i have a whole other post on this still in draft).

So for the last few weeks i’ve been prioritizing sleep and children instead of work and it does make a very nice change, even if it’s not terribly practical as a long-term solution. I read this post from jodi this morning and it makes perfect sense to me. We’re still working on it.

But for now, i’d better go and actually do some work so breaking my daughter’s heart wasn’t a total waste. sigh.

Education, Dreams, and The Future


I wonder a lot whether I’m doing the right thing for my children by raising them in Bali. Sometimes (ok, most of the time) I get frustrated about living in this little dirty unsafe village house (as I imagine it when my brain switches into negative mode). And I feel like I need to get us out of here into a space that’s big and bright and full of air, that we can really call our own.

I find these amazing learning and playing space on Pinterest and I want them so badly for Maya and Kiran. I have dreams of creating them somehow, at some point in the future.

Things are not so bad here and on the whole, most days, I think I am making the right choice. I certainly don’t think the educational system in the UK has things 100% right and the more I read about the origins of formal schooling and the negative aspects of it, the less good things I have to say about it. This is not to say I don’t believe in schools – on the contrary, both my parents were teachers and moving to a country where education is a privilege, not a right, I appreciate it even more. I have no plans to homeschool but I get the feeling i may well be doing a fair bit of 聽supplemental home education in the future and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I don’t have an awful lot of faith in the local schools for being stimulating and inspiring. The ones that have a good reputation are very focused on academic results which is not what I am interested in (for at least another 4 or 5 years anyway). I was shocked at the sheer weight of text books that Maya’s cousin was taking home as a 6-year-old. His English text book was teaching grammar that we wouldn’t even touch in the uk until high school. My friend’s 3-year-old recently had an IQ test at school (wtf?)

My firm belief is that children should be allowed to learn through play. I do think reading is important and finding learning opportunities in play and everyday life but tests and sitting at desks with books for 5-year-olds? Nope.

The positive thing is that this part of the world tends to attract free thinkers and creative types and in terms of international schools we actually have some promising play-based pre-school options that we wouldn’t in the UK (like the world-famous Green school – although paying the fees would be another matter!).

I’m looking forward to exploring a few of these options when Maya turns 3 at the end of the month. It’s been over a year since she first started at playgroup – she loved it at first and then refused to go back after Christmas. I don’t’ know what happened to turn her from being happy and enthusiastic about school to crying every day until we came to pick her up, but i wasn’t going to push it.

So these are some of my dream spaces to play and learn in the hopes that i can manifest some aspects of them into our reality 馃檪

learning1 learning2 learning3

Branches Atelier – Reggio Emilia inspired preschool in Santa Monica, California


Global Village Preschool, Miami, Florida


Children’s Library, Singapore


Children’s Library, Karewau, New Zealand

And in the interests of fairness, here’s one closer to home of Green School – I couldn’t find many pictures of the actual classroom as most sites are just raving about the architecture but here’s one I borrowed from – i hope to visit there very soon and maybe i’ll get some photos of my own 馃檪


p.s. I know good preschools are about much more than pretty classrooms, but it does help 馃檪

I nearly have a 3-year-old. Plus Bali is trying to kill me and other stuff…


hello blog. Long time, no see. I thought I’d do a bit of a random catch-up post now that I’m actually able to sit at my computer and type without feeling like my brain is dripping through my ears. So you know that time I had dengue and was horribly ill? Well that was followed by a further TWO illnesses, the second of which I’m only just recovering from now and actually felt worse than the dengue.

I have no idea why I’ve been so unlucky to be ill so many times in such a short space of time and with 2 hospital visits (I never actually went to the hospital with the actual life threatening one). I hate doctors and hate hospitals and generally avoid them at all costs but I’ve been feeling SO ill, I finally dragged myself there as I couldn’t take another night of crazy fever-induced dreams and my poor kids were getting tired of having an invalid mother. The doctors did the usual indo thing of not diagnosing me with anything but sending me off with a huge bag of medicine. Oh and I had a blood test as they thought it may be some other horrible mosquito illness or typhoid or something but luckily not.

So yeah I’m almost better now but my brain still isn’t quite working properly, I feel like I’m in a bubble where I can’t hear or think properly. Also it has robbed my ability to understand Indonesian. Someone came to the house for something the other day and i swear he was just saying “blah blah blah blah”. I had to send him away in the end.

As I’m so ridiculously behind with all my work now I’ve just decided to kind of give up and go with the flow. It’s kind of nice. I’m not taking on any new jobs for the rest of this month to give myself some breathing space but I still have loads to do. Now we have a couple of other income streams I’m hoping to cut back and spend more time with the kids before i lose my mind. i always say this but I’m really doing it now and it’s nice just sitting with Maya and watching her draw instead of stressing that I have to go and finish another article or whatever. I’ve given up on scheduling and i’m just fitting in the work where i can.

oh and then both my computers broke again. Kiran jumped on my lap while i was holding a cup of tea, most of which then ejected itself into the keyboard. So now I can’t really type on my mac. Or I can as long as i don’t need the letters g,h,y,u,l or c. Then my brand new pc laptop crashed today and decided it was totally broken so i had to reset it, losing all my files in the process. Luckily all my work is backed up to ‘the cloud’ (my computers have broken too many times to not do this) but it took me all day to get it going again and install dropbox and picasa (which is pretty much all I use these days. it didn’t come with office so I’ve switched to google drive).

Wow I’m even boring myself now, what was the point of this post again?

Oh yeah so apart from Bali trying to kill me with its various tropical illnesses, September has kind of crept up on me. As did August. But that means it’s October next month and Maya is THREE in October! Three! I can’t believe I’m going to be the mother of a 3-year-old.

The last few months she’s been amazing me with her ability to do random stuff. It’s like a switch flips and she can just suddenly do things that I never noticed her learning. She’s drawing actual things like lions and spiders now instead of just circles (eggs!) and scribbles.

Also a couple of months ago, she suddenly switched to speaking Balinese 90% of the time. I always knew she could understand Balinese but she’s grown up speaking Indonesian and only said the odd word in Balinese. One day she just randomly started speaking fluent Balinese, much to the amusement of everyone and she hasn’t really stopped. It gives me hope she’ll do the same with English.

I worry that I’m not doing enough activities with her – I’m not one of those flashcard mothers and I don’t push her to learn the alphabet or things like that. I’m a big fan of free play but still I wonder if i should be teaching her things. When do kids start learning to read? How on earth do you even start teaching a child to read? She reads herself some books – the ones’s she’s memorized and sometimes she makes it up from the pictures. usually in English as I’m the one who reads to her most of the time, which pleases me.

She can suddenly count now too – I mean she’s been able to count from 1-10 for ages but she didn’t really get the concept. Now if i give her 5 objects, say, she will count them one by one and say “there are five!” i certainly didn’t teach her to do this – did she teach herself?

a few months ago she would build towers out of her duplo blocks but there was no method or understanding of balance. now she builds perfectly symmetrical constructions, matching up the colours on either side.

I’m fascinated just watching her. I’m sure this is all developmentally perfectly normal but I’m amazed at how she seems to just suddenly know how to do stuff! I guess this is what 3-year-olds do? Or rather what she does when she’s not driving me crazy by being soooo deliberately naughty or giving me a heart attack by putting her life in danger (she knocked the motorbike over today by climbing on it, I heard a huge crash and thought she was dead). Oh and we’ve still got Kiran’s terrible twos to get though. Fun fun! Tell me how people with huge families cope?!

The great weaning debate


It was World Breastfeeding Week this last week and I’m late to the party again (today is the last day). However I’ve been planning this post for a while so I figured now was as good as any time to publish it. A number of blogs I read like this one and this one have been publishing weaning-related posts recently. I guess it’s because our babies are similar ages and we’re all getting to the point where we’re wondering how long we’re going to continue breastfeeding.

When Kiran was born, I didn’t really have an idea in my head of how long I wanted to breastfeed, beyond making it to a year. I was gutted when Iwas advised by my doctor to start weaning Maya when she was 8 months old as I was pregnant again, but to be honest she was never that interested after she started eating solids anyway and at 8 months she was only feeding at night and for naps. It was still emotional weaning her but I did it gradually, cutting out one feed at a time and she had her very last feed a day or two after her first birthday.

Kiran is different. He’s 18 months now and still very attached. He asks to be fed multiple times a day and will very often just come and try to help himself, whatever I might be doing at the time. I’m keen on the idea of child-led weaning and I like the fact that breastfeeding has helped me fit into clothes that have been too small for my entire adult life, but even so I’m getting to the point where I want my body back.

Maya and Kiran have always been very different. I guess as he’s the youngest, he’s always going to be the baby but it’s really crazy comparing them at this age. Maya was like a little kid already, independent, talking in full sentences and we’d already started looking at nursery schools for her. Kiran only has a few words, is very shy and clingy and very much still my baby. He’s definitely growing up though – he’s taken to toilet training like a duck to water and I think with a bit of luck he’ll be fully day trained within a few months.

The last couple of months I’ve started refusing feeds to him during the day time. He gets quite angry about it but it’s usually fairly easy to distract him and often if I suggest he gets a glass of water instead, he’ll toddle off and get it. 聽I think day feeds for Kiran are both a habit and a comfort – if he falls and bangs his head, he comes over immediately and asks for “nyum nyum”.

I’m feeling the pressure from others too, which surprises me here were long-term breastfeeding is traditionally the norm. I was praised for weaning Maya by 12 months, only in a supportive way, but still – nobody has had anything positive to say to me about the fact that we’re still breastfeeding at 18 months. A shame considering the official advice is to continue until at least 2.

For now I’m continuing to try and cut out the day feeds but I have no problem with the night feeds for now. This may very well change in a few months as we’re already thinking about moving Kiran to his own bed – Maya was in her own toddler bed at one year, right after we’d fully weaned. Feeding at night when you’re co-sleeping is not so much of a hassle but getting up and out of bed is a whole different story.

Bike shopping and the poor neglected second child

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Yesterday morning the wheel snapped off Maya’s tricycle and she was heartbroken. I can almost remember how it feels to be 2 and have something you love broken or lost (god forbid we ever lose her cuddly) so in between her sobs we promised that we’d go out and buy a new one as soon as papa came home. The tricycle has actually not had a bad run, being Indonesian and mostly plastic – it was one of her 1st birthday presents and it’s gone through a lot of abuse lately (Kiran likes hurling it on the ground as a form of anger management).

So later that afternoon we headed out to the bike shop with promises of buying “a blue one like the ones at kids world” and a vague plan to get one for Kiran as well. 2 kids and one tricycle just doesn’t work and while Kiran hasn’t quite got the hang of pedalling, it probably won’t be long. Maya learned to pedal 2 or 3 months before her second birthday.

At the bike shop, Made found the perfect pink princess bike, complete with stabilisers. It was a little more expensive than we were planning but I figured better to spend a little more on something that will last her a few years, rather than another little tricycle that she’ll outgrow in 6 months. It was still a little big for her but she was happily riding around and even managed to work out the brakes. We were all set to buy and even got the guy to adjust it to Maya’s size.

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I found a cute little tricycle in primary colours for Kiran… or so I thought. Of course as soon as Maya saw it, she decided that she wanted that one and the pink big girl’s bike was forgotten. As it turns out it was a little big for Kiran anyway as his feet couldn’t quite reach the pedals. Rather than getting him a super cheap flimsy plastic one that would probably break within weeks, we left without one.

Now Maya has been happily riding around on her new trike and not letting Kiran anywhere near it. Poor Kiran was making do on Maya’s old trike with a superglued wheel until it fell off completely this morning and we gave it to one of the people who go door to door asking for scrap metal, plastic and unwanted items. Poor Kiran watching the man take his tricycle looked at me and pointed with a trembling lip and said “brrm brrm?” I think my heart just about broke in two!

The boy loves his brrm brrms. I remember Maya being the same way at this age but I think he is even more so. He’ll go and get the motorbike key by himself and hop on and scream until someone takes him for a ride. He picks out his own pyjamas – always the ones with the car on the front. He points to his chest and says “brrm brrm!” proudly. Whenever we go to an indoor play area, he heads straight for the cars and shows little interest in anything else. The wooden toys from the train set are his favourite toy by far.

I am feeling so bad about him not having his own bike, we’re going to go out and get one that’s small enough for him tomorrow, even if he does outgrow it within a few months. Poor kid is doomed to a lifetime of hand-me-downs from his sister and hardly ever gets anything new for himself. Don’t worry Kiran, this time you shall have your brrm brrm.

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p.s. these photos are from my new phone. It’s 2013 and I just got my first smartphone, ha! So I can finally start contributing to Instagram instead of just observing. My username is howtoescape. I may have to write a whole post about the wonders of having a smart phone – I can check my email while I’m eating breakfast! I can track how little sleep I’m getting! I got an extra 48GB of dropbox space just as I’d reached the limit of my free 2GB limit! Thanks Samsung (this post is not sponsored by Samsung. I wish.)

A simple childhood


Work is just not happening this morning so I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a bit of structured procrastination and continue my discussion about first world vs third world attitudes to money and life.

It never fails to amaze me the huge deal that is made about how much babies ‘cost’ and how everyone rushes out to spend thousands on expensive strollers, brand new clothes and other ‘must-haves’. This fairly recent article from the Guardian suggests that it costs 拢222,458 to raise a child to the age of 21 – 0ver 拢10.5k a year! Now I know that childcare isn’t usually free and there are some necessary costs in terms of clothing, food etc, but that is just ridiculous.

I know I’ve talked about this before but I was glad about living out here when I was pregnant that I wasn’t expected to buy everything on those lists that are included in every ‘preparing for baby book’ with everything from bottle warmers to baby food makers. How ridiculous. We had no cot, we had no pram, we had a cheap baby bouncer but no expensive automatic swinging contraption and I never felt for a second that our kids were deprived in any way.

Things just get worse as they get older with the pressure to buy toys, clothes and other kid junk. I’ve noticed a bit of a backlash in recent years towards this and there does seem to be an increasing trend to buy second hand clothes instead of getting everything new and focus on real play, rather than buying plastic flashing toys.

So you don’t need to be rich to raise a happy kid. On the contrary, it seems to be a trend that a lot of well-off families actually spend less quality time with their kids. Are the children impressed with the fancy clothes? I doubt it. With the fancy toys? Maybe but I’m sure they’d be just as happy with a stick and some dirt. And being on a budget forces you to be creative about the activities you do with your children. I was really inspired with Georgia’s pledge to spend nothing for a year, despite preparing for the arrival of a new baby and you don’t have to take long looking through her site to realise how happy her kids are and how they get out and about and explore and paint and do other stuff that kids should be doing. One of the major steps she took which sort of made me gasp, was getting rid of all the toys. Extreme? Maybe, but maybe not. Rather it just proves the point that anything is a toy for kids and they’re often happiest playing with things that don’t have a primary function of being a toy.

Made tells me stories of growing up in his little village in Bali which I can’t even get my head around as they are so far removed from my own experiences. Every 6 months on the Kuningan holiday, our village hosts a market on the football field next to one of the temples. This is a source of great entertainment for the kids who love shopping for new t-shirts, toys and knick knacks.

He spoke with some sadness over the fact that this event wasn’t so special for kids any more as they get so many things day to day anyway. When he was a child, he got new clothes only twice a year at this market when he was allowed to go and pick out a t-shirt. The village kids were so excited by the crowds and entertainment that they’d run around playing well into the night, whereas now they’re happier indoors playing computer games.

Another story he told me was that they had no money for toys, even a simple ball. So when Galungan came around and they slaughtered pigs for the ceremonial feasting, the village kids would blow up the pigs bladder and use it as a football, providing days of entertainment.

I’m not saying I want my kids to wear the same outfit every day for 6 months and entertain themselves playing with the internal organs of pigs but I think it’s just proof that children don’t need much to be happy.

There are a number of different world happiness indexes that are published yearly, including a few that are focused on the happiness of children. I think that the results of these surveys always need to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially when countries with extreme poverty come out on top – you need to check what data they’re using to compile their indexes, but it does provide some interesting food for thought. I found this study which seems to be a fairly well balanced view on what makes kids happy worldwide. The verdict? Family, friends and playing came out as the top three sources of happiness. No聽surprises聽there.

I think back to my own childhood and what are the most intense memories. Do I remember the clothes I wore or the toys I had? Not really (although I still have a soft spot for the magic treehouse). What I remember: picnic lunches in the garden on sunny days, yearly camping trips to France, getting to stay up late on the annual New Year’s Eve party that rotated through my parents friends, woodland walks and water fights. This is what I want for my kids, making memories, being happy, having fun. My yearning for the simple life is still pulling against my yearning for pretty things and I’m still working on balancing work with home life but we are getting there little by little.

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