Two of my children were born in October, another just before Christmas. This is an expensive time of year for us, sandwiched between the summer holidays and the festive season.
I've always gone a bit to town on their birthdays. I love making a fuss – they usually get six presents each (one from each human member of the family, then the two dogs and the hamster) and they're allowed to choose a treat to enjoy with their friends.
(We've thankfully passed the party stage for now and can get away with sleepover, cinema or bowling). My husband, on the other hand, who constantly reminds me (yawn) how hard up he was as a child, used to receive a cardboard box if he was lucky and made do with it. Can't our children be happy with just one present?
The problem is that now their expectations have been set quite high and on a year when we're really struggling financially, I'm worried they'll be disappointed on the day. But I've warned them it's going to be a frugal year. Monty suggested flogging all the toys he no longer plays with at the car boot and then giving me the cash to buy new ones. Annie said I could use her pocket money to purchase presents. (I think she's slightly missing the point of where that comes from in the first place).
I know that in comparison to the majority of children in the world mine are incredibly privileged and don't – on the whole – do to badly. But this year is going to be a real test of my creativity to stretch the pennies (Thank god for Ebay) and a lesson to them that, sometimes, times are tough and we don't always get everything we want. Gulp. Wish me luck.