In this new series, we talk to our readers and contributors about the joys and surprises of life with young children.
Tell us a little about your family…
We are a complete and proud family of 3 - Mum (Gem, running a little creative business from home), Dad (Si, an electrician) and 2.5yo (Gracie). Gracie loves rabbits so I think we'll be adding a fur baby to our little family soon!
What are the 3 words that define your parenting style?
Respectful, unruffled, silly.
What is your children’s current favourite toy?
Wooden play food - Gracie will 'cook' food in her kitchen and hold tea parties with her bunny (and us) for hours!
What is your - and your children’s - favourite toy of all time?
Gracie's is her sand pit. She plays in it every day, in all weathers! We both love to play with her wooden blocks, I build the towers and Gracie knocks them down!
What is your fondest childhood memory?
We practically lived at the beach when Si and I were kids, and we are lucky enough to have a holiday cottage in Whitstable, Kent, so we have regular beach days. Nothing fancy, just playing with the sand and pebbles, crabbing, walking, paddling in the sea and enjoying the fresh sea air. Life is very simple at the seaside!
What have you found most surprising about your children / about being a parent?
We really struggled with how much life changed after having Gracie. The first year especially was so, so hard and at times we didn't think we could survive it! But we all did, and having her in our lives makes us better people - more appreciative, more supportive, kinder, sillier people!
Do you have any tips for other parents? About toys, learning or anything else…
Fewer, better toys for sure - ones that encourage open-ended play. Gracie is such a creative child and doesn't need masses of toys. We've also found that being screen-free makes a huge difference to her concentration and behaviour - she loves to read, draw and play, and doesn't seem to miss TV at all.
And finally, anything else you wish to add?
For any parents struggling - it will pass!