Mamahood is stressful, right?! Kids are stressful, especially the ones of the small variety. There’s so much to worry about, all of the time. Are they eating enough, clean enough, developing well. Is their behaviour ok, is our parenting style ok, do other kids melt down this much?
There’s a whole new world of pressure on modern mums to do all the stuffand I’m far from convinced that it’s all necessary or even worth it. There are a lot of things from bygone eras that are definitely better off left where they are (those Adidas trackies with the poppers up the sides? No ta) but I have no problem looking to previous generations for Mamahood inspiration.
Leave Them To It
I don’t know about you, but my mum only ever got herself really involved in my life if it was something educational or something that she really wanted to do. She helped me with my homework, and we read together. She yelled words out for me to spell randomly, and on our summer caravan holidays she loved nothing more than an epic game of hide & seek at dusk with ALL the kids from the site. She was great at fireside scary stories in the evenings to.
Aside from that, my childhood memories consist mainly of the following words;
“Out of the house and play! Take some lunch, come back at dinner time!”
followed by hours of uninterrupted fun. We fell in rivers, picked apples and fed them to horses, built dens, and wrote ‘rule books’ (for the den, obvs). We argued, played chase, and we were resourceful. We came across an abandoned box of anti freeze cans one year and sold them to our neighbours for £1 each, and spent the money on Christmas presents for our mums.
My mum wasn’t interested in joining in with our games, and we didn’t want her to be. Mums are too sensible, and who wants to be sensible when you’re a kid?! Sometimes we would regale her with stories of our day, and sometimes we very sensibly chose to keep our antics to ourselves. On the occasions she got the ‘craft’ stuff out (pens, paper and paint if we were lucky) she put down a mat, made damn sure we knew what would happen if we got it anywhere we shouldn’t, then left us to it.
But Times Have Changed… Haven’t They?
Yes, to a certain extent, times have changed. The world is different, and I was lucky enough to grow up on a quiet cul-de-sac with a river and field opposite the house. Before we moved in July, we were living in a first floor flat in Croydon. Not exactly ideal for chucking the kids outside and letting them get on with it. It was one of the main reasons we chose the West Country, where we’ve been able to cut our rent by 20% and gain a huge house with a garden.
But even in Croydon, the principles of my mums parenting never left me. Ok, so we didn’t have a garden to chuck the kids in, but we did spend a lot of time outside in local parks. And it was very rare that you’d see me hovering over the kids while they played; that’s what the benches are for!
When we’re at home, my attitude is much the same. Let them get on with it. Admittedly this gets easier as my kids get older, but the reality is that right now as I type this, my nearly 17-month-old is playing in the garden. There are balls and a whole shed full of garden toys out there, but he’s playing with a puddle and some sticks. In fact, he’s been at it for about 45 minutes, and I can hear him chatting away to himself. Every now and then he comes in for a high five or a kiss, and then he wanders off again. When I pick up my nearly 4-year-old from nursery at 3pm, they’ll play together for a bit while I make dinner, then its chill out time before bath and bed.
They Need You!
Kids need their mums for lots of things, thats true. They need us to be strong and stable, to put plasters on their knees. Our kids need us to provide them with food, warmth, clothes and above all – LOVE. But they also need us to help them to grow and learn, and I’m a firm believer that the best growth and learning is achieved by doing. By making mistakes, through trial and error, and by exploring the world around them.
Imagination can’t be taught. Not in the traditional “here’s how you do it” sense, anyway. Imagination and creativity develop naturally, and yes, through boredom. I’m not saying you should just start ignoring your kids all day. Having conversations (yes even with the yet to speak 1yo) is what helps them develop their own language. And obviously there will be things we need to do (anyone else get yelled at to “wipe my bottom!!!!!”?!), but there are also lots of things that we don’t need to do.
When they’re left to develop it naturally, kids resourcefulness never ceases to amaze me. My littlest already knows to get a stool if he can’t reach something, and my daughter is able to sort her own cereal out if I leave the box, a bowl, and the milk out for her. She lays the table for dinner, and scrapes her plate when she’s done.
Don’t Underestimate Me!
I speak to people every day who tell me that their kid just cant do that. I’d bet my last quid that they probably could, if you left them to it. (Of course there are situations when this isn’t the case, understandably.) And I’d also argue that the earlier you let them get on with things, the earlier they’ll do things.
Way before kids can speak to us in a language we understand, they understand a lot more than we give them credit for. Small toddlers understand humour and know way before they speak that certain actions will make others laugh. They imitate, and they are always watching and learning from us.
The capacity for absorbing information in kids is nothing short of immense. The very worst thing we can do is stifle that. Once these years are gone, they’ll never be able to go back and re-do them. Creativity, resourcefulness, and imagination are things that will form part of their personality, and if they don’t develop and embrace it now, its highly unlikely that they’ll be things they can ‘learn’ in later life.
So, Have A Coffee!
So what better reason than to put down the Duplo brick and go and make yourself a coffee?! And actually drink it, while its still hot! There’s no better feeling in the world than watching in amazement as your kid does something they’ve never done before. It’s an even better feeling if you have a hot cup of coffee in your hand while you watch them doing it, wondering where the hell they learned to do that?!