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Having babies close to your birthday is bad planning, not least because 2 weeks post-partum isn't exactly party time and even if it was, what would I ask for? Clothes for a temporarily wobbly body? Toiletries I won't use? Days out I haven't got the energy to attend?

The same applies to gifts for second children. I know this baby is a different flavour, but really, we have so much of what we need and are so picky about the additional things we want that we've made it virtually impossible for anyone to buy us something we will truly treasure.

And then I worked it out, and I know what will be the best and most valued gift that anyone can give us: Time.

I'm only off work for 3 short months and that time will get filled too quickly and pass too quickly. We did far too much during my time off with Alfie and it felt like I spent no time at all just being, and appreciating, and enjoying. I wasn't selfish enough with my son and while he socialised with a huge number of people from an early age, it was at the expense of my time with him.

I want to try a different way this time. I want us to spend acres of time together as a new family just getting to know each other and appreciating every last moment before it is gone forever. I don't want to share my new baby, my toddler, or my husband and I don't want to gallivant all over Europe. I want my world to be the four of us.

Clearly I'm not alone in thinking like this. Gloria Lemay's article gives a fantastic list of ideas and for my birthday I will mostly be asking for vouchers for a local laundry and cleaning company. If anyone does feel like they want to help us celebrate the baby arriving, or my birthday, please take the time to read the list of ideas because it will mean more to us than the most expensive toys, or elegant clothes could ever do.

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