One thing that is almost always true of parents is that they want their children to have it better than they did. That’s not to say we had it bad; I had a wonderful childhood and never wanted for anything.
My parents let me be me, let me explore the world, didn’t push me too hard down any particular path, let me make mistakes and helped me learn from them. They encouraged me to be polite, kind, and empathetic whilst sometimes punishing me, but sometimes by simply letting me see and feel the consequences of being the opposite; which every kid is from time to time. These are all lessons I hope I can pass onto Ella. Most of all though I remember being happy.
There’s a lot of information out there these days and certainly a lot of contradictory advice. There’s a whole lot of money to be made from first time parents, and some of the books and apps can be quite prescriptive – which isn’t the reality of parenting, nor toddler development in my view. As your parents what books they had on parenting and what they asked Google about and you will get a nostalgic tale of how you were brought up on nothing but love and intuition (and some whiskey on the dummy if you were ill). I suppose their Google or parenting books were their parents, or family and friends…things have changed. A world of information is at your fingertips these days and although I always laugh when our parents suggest something that is no longer common practice (normally on health and safety grounds), I feel that when it comes down to the basics of your child’s development, not much has changed. Chelle and I try to use this information not as guidance or advice, but perspective, which mixed in with a strong dose of common sense should be just fine.
Certainly the childcare a baby receives plays a big part in their development, but I will address that in a childcare specific blog.
Its human nature and to an extent, the social media norm these days to compare yourself and your life with other people’s, some of whom you’ve never met…I think it’s really important not to compare the development of your child with another. Whilst there are typical stages, paths and percentiles for children in terms of physical and mental growth, each child is unique and so whilst your child may take longer to develop one skill, it will be using that time discovering and developing another.
Our approach with Ella has been to lo let her go at her own pace, encourage new experiences and base it all around having fun, but don’t worry where she is against the crowd. To give you an example, Ella is quite small and so physically was a little behind her peers when it came to progressing from crawling to walking. She got there in the end, and we had enormous fun watching her progress. On the flip-side, her vocabulary is quite advanced for her age, significantly above average, but it isn’t as though we have over-focused on this or under-focused on the walking. We have just had fun watching her develop and with her speaking it is just something that she has been able to pick up more naturally than other things. Neither scenario is a success or failure, it’s just Ella.
There’s only one baby app that I use and it is BabySparks. I find it really interesting to see what things to expect development-wise over the various months, but alongside that it provides a tonne of activities relevant to the development milestones as well as some incredibly insightful articles on a whole host of topics from baby-proofing your home to discipline. I am not prescriptive in using all of the activities all of the time, but there’s certainly been one or two that we’ve had fun with.
Playtime with Ella is an incredibly sacred time for me. It’s the one time of day I can truly switch off from everything else that’s going on and I try to ensure that when she is playing with and interacting with me that I give her my undivided attention. In reality most of the time this involves me chasing her round the house or park trying to kiss and tickle her and her just shouting ‘no Daddy’!
Whether it’s reading books (my favourite), dancing, singing nursery rhymes, hide and seek, or just watching her play on her own, it’s such a great way to bond. It’s also a lovely release from being a ‘serious’ adult. It’s great to see her imagination come to the fore and to encourage her to learn in a playful and safe environment.
Screen time in this day and age is always going to be more of a challenge than it ever was for us growing up. I’ll put my hands up, we do use the iPad for when we need Ella to sit still and quiet for more than 5mins. For example, if we are getting ready for work or tidying up the house. It works a treat. We also have some TV time in the mornings for 10mins and at night for 30-40mins. Other than that, if we are in then CBEEBIES is mostly on in the background, but Ella wouldn’t sit and watch it all day, her attention span is way too short.Before Ella was born I was adamant we would be restrictive with screen time, but when you are scrambling around trying to leave the house in the morning with a young child wanting cuddles and playtime, needs must! As she gets older I do want to make sure we limit it as much as possible, but I get the feeling that it will be an uphill battle.
The best time of all is when we get out and about. It’s lovely to see Ella explore the world and for you to relive the world through such a happy and innocent lens. Ella loves the outdoors, and as soon as she’s out the pushchair she’s off. You wait for the best part of a year for your child to learn how to walk and as soon as they have they spend most of the next year running toward every single hazard you can think of. When you watch David Attenborough, most young animals have to develop a strong survival instinct, and quickly, because their life literally depends on it. With human babies, it’s the complete opposite…its as though evolution has taught them not to worry about falling backward off the sofa because Daddy will obviously be there to catch them.
Anyway, that’s it for this topic, hoped you enjoyed it and sorry for the wait. Not decided on the next topic just yet but will likely be about childminders or illness.