In this new series, we talk to our readers and contributors about the joys and surprises of life with young children.
Tell us about your family.
Once upon a time we were two, enjoying adventures to far off lands, into jungles and oceans, discovering exotic wildlife. Then two became three - our little girl, Daisy, joined us. Our adventures are less far-flung, but no less enjoyable. We live a simple life and treasure our moments together as a family. Every outing is an adventure when viewed through the eyes of an (almost) one-year-old. It has been so special to discover that Daisy loves plants and animals as much as we do, and everyday she reminds us that there is always time to stop and smell the flowers.
What are the three words that define your parenting style?
Loving. Relaxed. Creative.
What is your child’s current favourite toy?
At the moment no game is greater fun than unpacking. The tissue box, a bag, the laundry basket, or anything that can be unpacked. Now she can walk, Daisy finds wonder and enjoyment in everything around her but she gets most enjoyment out of her books. We keep them on a shelf that is accessible to her and she unpacks them and pages through them independently.
She also has a little fluffy hedgehog that we hide around the house for her to find on her adventures. She is very observant and squeals with excitement when Hedgy pops up on top of a door or the back of the sofa.
What is your favourite toy of all time?
I grew up in sunny South Africa so I spent most of my time outdoors, playing with things rather than toys. I always loved nature and animals. Every birthday I requested a new pet. It started off small with goldfish, then a hamster, a puppy and eventually a horse. I never got the horse, but I did have a broomstick with a stuffed sock on the end, that I spent many hours galloping around the garden on.
For indoor play, wooden construction toys cannot be beaten. We love Jenga: in our house it doubles up as extra wooden blocks and sometimes becomes a domino rally.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
When I finally got a puppy for my 11th birthday. Every school day felt like a year when all I wanted to do was get home to explore with Cassy, my dog.
What have you found most surprising about your children and about being a parent?
When you think it’s impossible to love anything more, your love for them multiplies.
Do you have any tips for other parents? About toys, learning or anything else.
Spend more, buy less. With a young baby we are still at the stage where everything is exciting, the peg basket, a pastry brush; you name it and Daisy will find wonder and excitement in it. For that reason, I’ve learnt that investing in really lovely toys with long term appeal is a better idea than wasting money on cheap, semi-disposable toys.
And finally, anything else you wish to add?
Everyone says it, but you don't quite get it until you have your own: treasure every single moment. The time passes by so quickly.
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