We currently have a house guest. I’m not sure how long she will be staying, and sometimes her friends turn up unannounced. It is quite hard to keep track of her as sometimes she takes to zooming around the house in her ‘Vroomster’ (a jet powered sort of plane/pod racer). Today I sat down next to the eldest child to give her a kiss, ‘Mummy, don’t squash Xulie!’ was the loving response I got. Yup. The three year old has an imaginary friend. Meet Xulie (zulie), who was invited for tea last weekend (by the 3 yr old, over the toy phone) and has yet to leave. Her friends Kian, Lars and Foz sometimes drop by, but they tend to say their goodbyes at some point. Kian went to work with Daddy today apparently. He was waved off in the morning and this afternoon he had his shirts washed for him.
The thing is, these ‘imaginary’ friends, while not actually real, already sort of exist. They are characters in a Cbeebies cartoon called the Go Jetters. The eldest child loves them, she sings the theme tune and laughs at the villain. For the uninitiated here they are. As kids shows go, it’s not bad, there is definitely far worse out there (I’m looking at you Kerwhizz), and if one of the Teletubbies had come to stay I would have booted him/her/it (no idea) out long since. She has even learnt things about Mount Everest and Big Ben, not bad.
BUT. Now I am worried that too much TV has been watched. Imaginary friends have appeared before (one was a woodlouse…) but Xulie has already outlasted them all.
Normally I’m not sure that I would do much about it. They don’t watch that much TV (do they?) and we are limited to Cbeebies due to parental laziness on the technology front, but half term is looming, the days are shorter and darker, wetter and colder. All things which mean the daily TV quota may sneak up if left to itself. Coincidentally, these things are also what leads to spending money. Entertaining kids during the holidays, away from the house and out of the cold/wet/dark, can add up. Soft play, shopping centres, cafes and places like ‘Peppa Pig World’ are the main culprits.
So I have a plan. I don’t want to spend any money on entertainment for my two this half term, but I don’t want to stay at home where the seductive call of the tv may prove hard to resist (I actually think the Go Jetters are quite amusing but we will forget that I said that). I have decided that I will myth-bust the common conception that children are expensive things to run. I have always thought that the accepted view of kids as money pits was not necessarily true. Undoubtedly they do have an impact on household outgoings but they don’t have to be the leeches they are often portrayed as. Especially when entertainment comes into play. And I’m not even talking toys; a few days ago my two spent most of the day playing with the sofa cushions. Building houses, playgrounds, bunk-beds (I only know this is what they were making because the three year old kept up a running commentary to Xulie while doing so), and bouncing on the naked sofa base. The boxes of actual purpose made toys were left untouched.
So what is the plan? Here are the things we will do next week:
- There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, and everyone knows if it ain’t raining it ain’t training [insert other cheesy weather cliche here], so muddy welly walks here we come (dependant on health and severity of weather conditions, I’m not an idiot).
- Some friends will come to play. Little ones, not mummy’s friends unfortunately.
- We will be making ourselves welcome at Granny’s, (Mum, can we come over please?!)
- Our village does an amazing bonfire and fireworks night, which we will be going to. Its free.
- Finally, for the days when we really are confined to the house, we will do wholesome things like baking. So I can eat cake.
Luckily we don’t really ‘do’ Halloween anyway so I don’t have to plan for that. Trick or treaters who call by will be disappointed (scrooge aren’t I?). Last year I genuinely forgot to get any supplies in, this year I think I will ‘forget’. They can have an apple from the fruit bowl or my ‘sorry I’ve run out already’ line.
Now, I’m sure TV will be watched, and Xulie will probably still be with us, but we have plenty of things to keep us entertained for free this coming week. It will really help with our savings for October, and let’s face it, I’m not working so can’t really go splashing the cash anyway. Rest assured I will let you know how it goes, I’m sure you will be wondering!
With impeccable timing, I have just been informed by the eldest child that Xulie is hungry. I had better go and make lunch.