I dread the holidays at daycare – Valentine’s Day , in particular. Why? Because I know I will find my daughter’s cubby overflowing, not just with little Hello Kitty paper Valentine’s Day cards (like the kind we bought), but with intricate, handcrafted gift bags full of stickers and bubbles and a heart-shaped straw and non-peanut treats that some child’s mom painstakingly made and assembled for the entire class.
I’m not sure when the holidays became a sport to see which mom can outdo the other, but that’s what it feels like — and I have several years worth of daycare experience to rely on. It doesn’t matter if it’s Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter, Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day. There’s always one mom who goes overboard, and every time, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, stress, annoyance and – yes – a bit of anger, both at her and myself. Why didn’t I think to buy special treats and goodies for all her friends? Are people going to think I’m cheap and lazy? Why did that mom have to show all of us up?
And then I think — aren't these TODDLERS?
I know some women are just naturally crafty and find joy in raiding the local Hobby Lobby for felt hearts and sparkly glue. As an admittedly non-crafty mom, I am in awe of that, because my brain doesn’t work that way. I walk into a craft store and break out in hives, and any creation I come up with looks like something my kindergartner could have made. So I certainly don’t want to begrudge them the joy of crafting.
But I think those moms are in the minority. So why do others go above and beyond?
My daughter is 20 months old; she's too little to really acknowledge her new goodies (most of which – like nearly all junky birthday party favors – will end up in the trash). But when my son was in daycare and was around 3 or 4, he’d proudly show me his loot, saying, “Look what so-and-so’s Mommy made us! It’s so awesome!” or “Wow, so-and-so’s Mommy gave us little teddy bears!” Ouch.
When it comes to the holidays, our daycare’s only policy is “no food items that contain nuts.” However, I wish they would just put the kibosh on the whole thing and institute a "no goodie bag” rule. None of us parents need that added stress and guilt, or that extra item on our “to do” list. Having a consistent and defined rule creates a level playing field, manages expectations and ensures one child’s “gift” to her classmates doesn’t steal the spotlight or take away from classroom celebrations.
There’s being fun and festive, and then there’s totally overdoing it, regardless of the intention. These are toddlers and preschoolers: do they really_ need_ candy, erasers and other trinkets for every holiday? Isn’t a simple Valentine’s Day card good enough?
Where do you stand on the great "goodie bag" debate?