When it comes to parenting, there are books and websites and courses and various parenting experts, to the point where sometimes we are overwhelmed with well meaning information and advice. Often I’ve found it difficult to source down to earth, practical advice embracing old fashioned values.
I returned from Melbourne to find a copy of the West Weekend with parenting educator and resilience expert Maggie Dent titled ‘Voice of Reason’ with the caption ‘What I’m saying is not coming from a place of superiority. There is no perfect’.
Hallelujah! Finally someone who isn’t speaking down to those of us who are figuring out parenting as we go and just trying to do our best everyday.
I read the article with Maggie Dent ‘In The Kids Corner’ and was really struck with this line in particular;
‘If you can slow life down in those first five years, you’ll have enormous benefits later. We used to have pockets of quiet, where you were alone or engaged in something that you were able to continue without being rushed.’
When Ava was a few months old I started taking her to Gymbaroo which we absolutely loved and continued right up until she was a few years old. (It’s still the very best activity we’ve done and I recommend it to everyone!). I was asked what other activities we did, and I remember feeling a little guilty that apart from occasionally going to Rhyme Time at the library, we weren’t doing any other scheduled activities.
I was told about swimming lessons, music classes, dance classes, gym classes, play groups and more. And so we slowly enrolled in more activities to the point where we were racing out the door each morning. Sometimes I found it quite stressful, particularly because we weren’t getting much sleep.
Eventually I realised that between activities and play dates, we weren’t having much free time where Ava could just play, create and imagine or we could snuggle up with a book and just have fun.
When Chloe arrived almost ten months ago, I decided that I would aim to have at least a few free mornings or afternoons a week where we could either stay home and play and read books, or head to a local park and so far it’s been working really well for us so far.
Our weeks are much more fluid, we can walk into the city and explore, stay at home and have Disney extravaganzas or just enjoy the afternoon sunshine and play in my girls rooms.
When it comes to parenting, I tend to follow my heart and instincts and also draw a lot on how I was raised. I’m constantly gleaning information and tips from everywhere I can find it.
My Pop always used to tell us ‘manners cost nothing’ and to this day I’m still pretty big on ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ with my girls. There are a few things I won’t allow under any circumstances, including hitting or being rude and I encourage my girls to be problem solvers, after all life is one giant series of solving all sorts of problems both big and small.
I also encourage helping out around the house. Ava will help set the table, sweep up with the dust pan and broom without being asked and will even help me pack away groceries on her own.
We did a few terms at a Montessori playgroup which really encouraged problem solving and learning to do things for yourself. They had a toddler sized kitchen and the children were expected to set the table, serve themselves with tongs and wash, dry and pack away their dishes with help from parents of course. I really loved encouraging this sense of being helpful and a team player, I think it’s so important to learn early on as a life skill.
I’m also conscious about limiting screen time, whether it’s TV or the iPad, although most mornings I have to thank ABC Kids for allowing me a sneaky ten minutes to get ready!
For the most part, I really just want to give my girls a fun, old fashioned, magical childhood with singing and dancing, playing at the park, reading books and spending time with family and friends.
You can find out more about Maggie Dent here, and pre-order her new book 9 Things: A back to basics guide to calm, common sense, connected parenting birth – 8 here.
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What’s your parenting approach?
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to parenting?0