The very hungry toddler


I have a three-year old. And she is always hungry. Well, she thinks so at least. Most of the time it’s just boredom, or tiredness, but hunger seems to be the default. And it’s not just food. She’s hungry for attention. For activities. For STUFF. So much stuff. She’s just so hungry, for so many things. She’s three years old. That’s just what they do I suppose.

I fear that I’ve been failing her. Don’t we always think we are doing something wrong as a parent at some stage? I’ve been busy and I’ve been fitting her in, not the other way around. I’ve been lazy and thrown my phone or iPad at her so I can get stuff done, or get some peace and quiet. I buy her little things, so many little things along the way because I can, and because sometimes I don’t want to deal with the tantrum and drama that will follow. Filling her up with stuff that doesn’t seem to making any difference at all, in fact, it just makes her want more. More treats. More things. More games. MORE. MORE. MORE.

There are so many kids out there in the world who have nothing, want for nothing. Happy to play with some rocks, making up games as they go, using their imagination. I worry about our lazy kids. My own daughter who thinks she wants so much, and me as the Mother who isn’t giving her what she really needs. We’re making some changes and we’ll get there, mostly it’s me that needs to shift my mind-set, they don’t need more STUFF, I’ll be strong and just say no for a change. Treats will be that, a one-off, given from a well-meaning Grandparent. I want to get back amongst the trenches, get into the parenting while I can.

While she still needs me to.

Do you worry about this stuff too?
Imagine a month of saving from all those little ‘things” like treats and shitty toys that break and using that towards something better? An activity. A donation to a charity.
How do you teach kids the notion of ENOUGH?


  1. I hear you Beth, it’s so bloody hard. Even when we are fairly tight with our money, giving treats to the kids, buying new things etc.. they still want more. I just keep plugging away at trying to teach the notion of enough – maybe I’m doing it wrong?! x

  2. Melanie Ann Tarr says

    kiva is awesome! once I did it with the kids when they got a gift certificate for Christmas and we had to go on and peruse who we would give money to. The lady weaver in Africa or the one in Peurto Rico etc. It does bring it home a little. But I don’t know if Harps is old enough for that? You could donate and they when she asks for a toy say should we buy this or give it to kiva – but name the person you donate to so it makes it more personal. Just a thought…
    PS – no she doesn’t need more stuff. She needs to invent more “stuff” to do with her clever brain that needs exercising. when they are bored its great because then they are on the verge of inventing something to do themselves. Put up with the bordom if you can stand it, because pushing through that is growth.

  3. Gibbergunyah says

    Yes, yes I do, particularly this week. My three year old has just had three weeks of birthday events and a holiday with his doting grandparents, aunties and cousins. This morning he asked if he had any more presents! Not surprising as he’s been given something almost daily lately. I wish I knew the answers, I SHOULD, being a child psych, but, being a mother, I have to admit that I don’t and am fumbling as much as anyone (except with higher expectations of myself and him). For me part of it is accepting NOT getting stuff done. A bit of underachievement and some dirty floors are called for here, I think. I’m working on connecting more with him. And that is all I have to offer, really.

  4. It is always a work in progress! We have consciously cut down the stuff, especially treats at regular intervals and we’ve started to talk about how much things cost and what may be a better choice in the longer term. My kids are almost 5 and 7 tho and it has taken LOTS of talking for them to kind of get it. On the plus side I am forever grateful that they are in a situation that they don’t know the opposite and think the world is theirs for the taking. Having experienced not asking because it was not possible I am hopeful that the chats will eventually make sense and that they will be able to see that hard work will benefit them.
    I found the three-nager a very difficult beast to negotiate with, such determination. God I hope that confidence lasts!!!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Three year olds are something else aren’t they? You KNOW I have a sticker chart in action…choices and decisions and making her own a bit of it. We’re 5 days in though…

  5. I ponder this as well. I have an almost 9 year old and an almost 3 year old. Let me tell you the 9 year old – WOAH!!! She can want for some stuff… It is my fault. It is what I have shown her. We are “saving” for our overseas holiday. I was desperate to show her that you had to sacrifice for something great like that… But I am not sure if 90% of the world would see our sacrifice as anything but laughable. We go out to the cafe for morning tea rather than lunch. Buy slurpees instead of Boost Juice. Get Pizza instead of Thai. We are pathetic. I am not sure how to change it. I certainly do not buy my younger one as much as I did my first. But I can feel that building. He is asking and wanting and I find myself giving in. My daughter goes to a school where the kids have a lot. Our family is hysterically one of the “poorer” ones and we aint poor. What am I teaching her? Where will she think she can live when she is older? Will she ever have the value of a $$ in her? I think I need to deal with that after the trip. Which in not turning into a lesson of frugality, let me assure you.

  6. teaspoonsandtinsel says

    Our 3 young kids have bedrooms filled with ‘stuff’ so this year I have told them that they can each ask for 3 things for Christmas. I have explained that it is because they already have so much. Rather than being upset, they are embracing the idea, and are getting quite excited about their “three things”. They have long conversations which start “for my three things, I am choosing…..”. I know it’s early, but I wanted to give them time to get used to the idea.

  7. Emily Webster says

    I deliberately say no A LOT to my daughter. She asks for a lot but I say no. I probably say yes more than I should still though. I have no idea how we are to manage this materialistic epidemic that is taking our children by storm. I try to explain (she’s nearly 9) about money and how we have to work and save to be able to buy the nice things that we have, but all she sees is us doing the buying and the ‘things’ turning up…… I’m at a loss. I’m just going to keep saying no apart from special occasions as often as I can to teach her the joy in new things and to appreciate them. We can only do our best Beth. The mere fact of worrying about it means you truly are trying.

  8. A few months ago I said enough stuff. I’ve found avoiding shops if you can helps. They are allowed to choose a small chocolate or lolly at the end of the grocery shopping if they’ve been good, but no toys. On the weekends we’ve been doing more outdoorsy things, packing a picnic from home.
    I try to shop online as much as I can, and if I have to go to the shops or do errands bakers delight works a treat as a distraction!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Good idea about avoiding the shops – might try and get all my shopping done on Preschool days. Thanks Averil!

  9. Emma Steendam says

    I’m not a mother, so I’m going to tread lightly here…
    I don’t know the secrets, I don’t think anybody does, but I do know that my husbands family seem to parent very differently from how I was brought up, or how my siblings are parenting their kids. I’m not saying any one way is right/wrong, but boy is there a difference.
    My husband gets very excited about little things that I take for granted because as a child he never had it. Not because they were poor or wanting of anything, just careful choices by his wonderful parents which have shaped the man he is. His family give home baked biscuits to each other for Christmas and get SO FREAKING EXCITED about it. Seriously. The first few years I was aghast. Now I GET it. Our niece and nephew (his sisters children) want for nothing, and yet have very little. Not out of lack of funds, just conscious, careful parenting by my amazing sister-in-law. For their birthdays they get veggie seeds to plant in their own garden plots or a secondhand pair of jeans from the op shop, you should see their faces light up. And I kinda love it.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I kinda love it too. Thanks for sharing Em x

    • Wow that is awesome. I’m also not a mother but I definitely want to try and soak up all the advice I can so I can start right and having kids who appreciate what they’re given and creating things themselves would be so great ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. yes yes and double triple a million yes. my 3 year old is the same. My 7 year old can be saited with a “no” and a pout but I have the same thoughts. My house and especially their room is a cluttered shit heap full of junk. My kids don’t look after what they’ve got, so why should I buy them more? And yet I do.

    I am hearing you loud and clear on this.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Daisy has gotten so much better, and she is almost 7, I think a lot of it has to do with age and maturity. Good luck Deb!

  11. OMG yes and I have a 12 yr old girl and 14 yr old boy. AND I homeschool them (and try to work part-time). I never feel like I’ve done “enough”. We are past the “toy” stage and now mostly they just want time – time with me. Plus a STACK of food for the 14 yr old boy. Hang in there – we all do feel this way.

  12. I have a 17 (going on 25 year old), it is never enough – time, money, pets whatever. I feel that I have failed her by so rarely saying no and she is never completely happy. If there were 100 rides at a fun fair and we rode 99 she would lament the one missed. I actually feel sad because I am easily content, with very little. Is it nature or nurture? I cannot say but if I could start again with this knowledge I think (hope) I would say no more often. Best of luck, whatever we do as a Mum it is never quite right is it? Denise x

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Oh Denise, I know what you mean. We are just all wired differently you know, some of it has to do with how we grow up and are taught, and some of it just is. Who we are. In us. Thank you for your comment x

  13. Priscilla says

    I wrote a blog today about the joys of parenting (well the busyness of it) and mentioned that I have to say no sometimes. My (just turned) 4 twins have an insatiable appetitie for both food and attention. So much so, that I ended up having a nervous breakdown just over a year ago. I spent time with a psychologist and had a lightbulb moment which embarrassed me a bit. Mostly because I hadn’t recognised what was wrong. She asked me why I thought they were behaving badly and I realised it was because I wasn’t engaging with them. I was meeting their daily needs, but not really “playing” with them. I was busy. It’s so easy to get caught up with the daily grind. At that session I agreed to spend 10 minutes a day with each child one-on-one with no distractions and it really worked. Pretty simple really. Thank you for sharing this post x x

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Thank YOU for your comment Priscilla. Great advice x

    • Priscilla, is your blog public? I too have twins (3 year olds) and may find some solace in your writings!

      • Hi Suzie! Believe it or not, I haven’t written alot about the twins yet. But I will ๐Ÿ™‚
        My blog is on WordPress and it is called and2makes7. It’s new and not fancy at all. You will also find me on Instagram under the same name x x x

  14. ahoy.jenni says

    Yep, you know what the answer is… More of your time and attention. I know it’s hard, especially on the days when you just need that head space to yourself….
    My girl was addicted to iPad and not sleeping well so we decided it had to stop in the evenings, but now we have to engage with her and the little fella (oh no!) but we are having a hoot now. We play hide and seek, tip (chasings) we dance, we keep finding more things to do and it’s addictive…last night we set up the Xmas tree for Xmas in July. Why not I say! Tomorrow night it’s the Xmas party!
    Do. I sound completely bonkers?

  15. Reannon Hope says

    A couple of years ago I stopped all the buying crap because they asked for it. I done it because I felt like they were spoilt, like they lacked appreciation, like they couldn’t tell the difference between a need & a want. Plus their shit was getting EXPENSIVE!! A video game for 98 bucks x 2 kids= stupid!
    They still complain I don’t buy them stuff & their friends get everything but I’ve stood firm. They get enough for birthdays & Christmas plus I make desls with them – you save x amount & I’ll pay x amount. My then 9 year old saved HALF the money needed for an iPad mini & we paid the rest for his 10th 13 year old paid for his Xbox we bought him a tv for his bedroom. I think our system is working pretty well ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. You are her role model – how able are you to be with your own hunger for distractions from the discomforts of life – or how quickly do you need to turn to new stuff, things to buy, places to be, food, drink etc?

  17. We def need to debrief on this. Your first two paragraphs have hit me like a brick. Hungry, yes hungry for me but so is the house. Help.

  18. ‘I’M HUNGRY’ – makes my ears bleed every day! I have two standard responses: “Hi Hungry, I’m Mummy” which never goes down well; and “it’s ok to be hungry”. They seem to think that their tummies need to feel full all the time, so we need to teach them otherwise.

    As for all the stuff, I regularly do a cull and talk to them about giving to kids that don’t have anything (a bonus is that I don’t have to tidy up all the crap). And for us, a treat is usually flavoured milk or art and craft stuff. I often feel like a mean mum always saying no to everything, but my eldest is only 4 so I feel like I need to nip it in the bud now.

  19. You’re doing great, Beth, you’re doing great. And so are all the mums here as well. I like the suggestion that’s been made of spending at least 10 minutes one-on-one time with the little one each day with no distractions – dancing, reading her a book, or just sitting on the couch and letting her slide down your legs like a human Mummy slide – may be enough that she will stop asking for the other things so much. I don’t know, it could work. Human beings are born to want things all the time, our whole entire nature is to want to receive something. At least that’s what I read somewhere which sounds just about right to me! But on the other hand, it’s good to not receive things just because we think that we want them all the time isn’t it? It makes us appreciate what we have that little bit more. And so that’s my other suggestion for you and dear little Harps. Be convinced in your own mind that saying no and not giving her stuff once in a while if not quite regularly actually does her good, if not the best kind of good. And hopefully she’ll sense that from you and she’ll stop nagging, and play with and appreciate the toys that she already has. Fingers crossed for you both! x

  20. My kids have learnt to hear the word No over the last 2 years. They used to be spoilt rotten and it was without intention, it was just what happened. Then I got sick and had to go home overseas, I had to put a plan in action to raise the funds and the word NO was born.

    Things got even tougher when we had no choice but to knock down our house and rebuild, part time working mummy quickly became full time working mummy and although I would never recommend working full time if you had the option of being with your kids, i have seen major changes in them. They are learning the value of money (they are between 8 and 11), they are learning to work for their money (small chores) they are learning to save, and they are much more appreciative for the things they do get – including time with me.

    What I love even more is the excitement I see in their eyes when they do get things now, instead of just randomly saying thanks and then five minutes later looking for something else. I tend to order things by post for them these days, the added excitement of waiting for the delivery is great..

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