As a mum of three fairly grown-up kids (my youngest turned seven last week - where on earth does the time go?), I have to admit that I'm a bit blasé now when it comes to parenting. I know I'm not a perfect mum but I also know that nobody is and that as long as your kids are fed, clothed, stimulated, encouraged and made to giggle at least ten times a day, you're doing a pretty good job ! I do remember how nerve-wracking it all was the first time around though, and I read books on everything from baby milestones and educational games to healthy kiddie food and bilingual parenting, and regularly tuned in to TV shows like SuperNanny, Child Of Our Time and Honey We're Killing The Kids.
Lots of those kinds of books and programmes focus on what NOT to do as a parent and deal with the serious things like nutrition, health scares and disciplining bad behaviour, but they rarely focus on what is, in my humble opinion, the most important part of bringing up children : enjoying spending time with them and having fun ! If you're a bit sneaky, it's always good to combine fun and learning which is even better, but the important thing is finding ways of spending quality time together.
I've recently discovered some new DVDs which aim to help parents bond with their child, whether they’re a baby or a 12 year old, and which offer a fresh set of ideas on how to play with your children, as well as discussing the brain science behind it. You might think that interacting with your children is, quite literally, child's play, but recent research has revealed some rather worrying statistics : 6 out of 10 parents say they play with their child only occasionally; 1 in 6 fathers say they don’t know how to play with their children; and the average parent-child bonding time is 1 hour a day for mothers and 35 minutes for fathers.
These science-backed DVDs will equip you with a wealth of games and play ideas to maximize that time you have with your child and ensure it is meaningful, connected and positive. The lady behind the series, Dr Margot Sunderland, is a highly respected child psychologist and psychotherapist, Director of Education and Training at the Centre for Child Mental Health and author of best selling and critically acclaimed parenting book ‘The Science of Parenting’.The DVDs discuss the science behind childhood brain development and the benefits of play and games with parent-child bonding.
If you have a loathing of messy play and glitter in the carpet, never fear ! There is a wealth of ideas for you-me, small world play, messy, clapping, drumming and dancing games, all of which can be incorporated into family life, so whether you’re a new first time mum/dad or an old-hand to this parenting lark, there’s something for everyone.
As a busy parent, it's often hard to find the energy to pick up a book or sit through a heavy-going scientific documentary on how to give your kids the best start in life, but these videos are a joy to watch and frequently had me smiling. With three children, and a huge big-kid streak myself, I have a lot of experience of finding fun ways to play, but even so, I kept seeing things that appealed to me and seemed like a really good idea that I just hadn't thought of yet. Whatever your parenting style, you'll find things that will fit into your lifestyle, from making noise and mess to quietly reading a story or exploring textures and make-believe. I particularly liked seeing the dads getting involved, with lots of rough-and-tumble play that they will have no qualms engaging in ! Most importantly, all the parents seem to be having just as much fun as the kids, and as well as being an important bonding experience that helps with your child's development, playtime is above all a great way for parents to destress after a tough day at work when tempers can easily fray.
The DVDs are available to buy on The Centre For Child Mental Health website and cost £14.99 each or £38.99 for all three.
Disclosure : I received the DVDs in order to write an honest review.