Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2107

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Children's Amusements.—In spite of the fact that children have far more, and more beautiful, toys with every advancing year, we venture to assert that it is just as difficult to amuse them now as ever it was. A magnificently-dressed wax doll often seems to afford no more delight than a shabbily-dressed old one, and the most complete and perfect of expensive toys, be it what it may, lasts no longer than a shilling one in destructive little hands. The truth is, modern children are often surfeited with playthings. They are allowed to use them all whenever they like, and so they mix them up, and soon lose their appreciation, however beautiful the toys may be. The best plan is to let children have but one plaything at a time, and directly they weary of it to make them put it away. If it be anything that they can improve or add to, encourage them to do so; if it be a broken toy, help them to mend it; if it be a doll, let the owner be often making something fresh to add to its wardrobe. Modern playthings are often too complete when given to children. Dolls are dressed, boats are fully rigged, horses are harnessed, dolls' houses are as well fitted as real ones, so that there is nothing left to be done by the little ones, to whom making and contriving are pleasures in themselves, and, at the same time, develop their constructive faculties.

Games for children should be provided out of doors as much as possible whenever the weather will allow. Running and playing come more natural to children than walking, and in these days of high-pressure education it is most essential that when released from the schoolroom they should find healthy, active exercise, and games which try the muscles instead of the brains.

Children's Clothing should be a matter of care and thought with the mother—without which, indeed, it is impossible to have the little ones always properly clothed. We do not mean by this the mere consideration of prettiness and effect, but whether their clothing is just what it should be for the season and the health of each individual child. People are apt to think that what is good for one must be good for another; whereas, although all children feel the effects of heat and cold more than we do (although they may not always show it), they are as different in temperament as ourselves, and clothing that is amply sufficient for one child is quite inadequate to the wants of another. The main requirements of children's clothing are lightness, freedom and warmth. Children should never be encumbered with their clothes, nor, on the other hand, should they ever be allowed to feel cold. In winter, flannel or merino may be worn next the skin by all children, and in summer by many, while night-dresses of the same materials are fit for either season. The best kind of nighr garments for young children who are apt to throw off their bed clothing, are pyjamas. Light woollen materials are the best for the ordinary wear of young children; the garments should be easy and loose, so that their limbs are free. An overall of some washing material will be found most serviceable for wearing during play hours.