One of the wonderful things about having a child is how generous people are when it comes to birthday and Christmas presents.
My lucky son has received gifts from family friends he's never met, relatives we didn't know we had, and neighbours we talk to for a combined annual total of 45 minutes.
And it's easy to see why. Children are fun to buy for: their clothes are small and cute, their toys are bright, the books are imaginative, and it's all much cheaper than what you'd buy for adults, who are also much harder to please.
But one of the hard things about having a child is how many thank-you letters you have to write. Children may be four or five until they learn to write; even older if we're talking about the kind of writing which would make a thank-you card charming and legible. Children get an average of 16 Christmas presents a year and double that on their birthday. So that's about 50 thank-you letters per child, per year, for what could be seven or eight years, and that's not including Christenings or Naming Days.
Now, my son is at an age where he's sleeping pretty well, which means I can sleep well too. And although I am busy, I can't blame him for that: I edit a website, dance in a 60s troupe, and suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), so can't say no to anything. I have no excuse not to write thank-you cards.
But spare a thought for new parents.
You can take an educated guess that the average new parent is not getting very much sleep. They're tired, they're shell-shocked and they have a lot to learn and to remember. They will love that their new baby is being showered with presents, and use and treasure these lovely gifts. But do they always need to commit that praise and gratitude to paper?
When you're sleep-deprived, nothing is a simple task
I will admit that when I was on maternity leave, as I accepted every kind gift given to my son, I was also thinking about the logistical nightmare of finding a card, an address, a stamp, and a string of words to convey how much we would enjoy the present, and how much it meant to receive it. It sounds like a simple task, but when you're sleep-deprived, nothing is a simple task, and you have to prioritise accordingly.
The parenting site I edit is all about making life easy and fun for parents. As a result, I decided to make some digital photo filters for parents to mark their babies' milestones without having to buy them or deal with memory cards or photo albums. I've just introduced one saying 'thank you', which I hope will help new parents who want to show their baby enjoying/wearing their gifts but for whom writing a card is just too much.
I think that is enough, don't you?