Tell us about your family
My family consists of me, my fiancé John and my very eccentric and loving two-year-old son Zeke. We’ve just moved to a small village on the outskirts of York. I work from home as a tutor on an autism course and John is a gardener.
What are the three words that define your parenting style?
Responsive, intuitive and forgiving (I aim to be these things but do fail regularly- that’s the reality of parenthood!)
What is your child’s current favourite toy?
Fire trucks, fire trucks, fire trucks. If I had a pound for each time I heard ‘fire truck’ I’d be a millionaire by now.
What is your favourite toy of all time?
I was always desperate for a Mr Slushy drink maker but (get the violins out) I was never allowed one because my mum said I’d be bored of it in five minutes. Now I’m a mum myself, I get it what she meant. So I used to spend a lot of my time making robots out of cardboard boxes when I was little. I think I’d read a book about a robot and it inspired me (that’s something not even my nearest and dearest know about me, I’m a closet robot enthusiast!)
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Apart from robot building, it would have to be playing make-believe outside with my friends. I grew up in rural Scotland and so was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the countryside. This is part of the reason I wanted to move to the countryside, because I wanted the same for Zeke. I think it’s a good start in life, to be out exploring nature. I remember playing in my friends huge garden and making ‘perfumes’ out of flowers and leaves. All the possibilities you see in the world around you when you’re little are magical and wonderful. I also spent a lot of my time writing stories. I wanted to create magical lands and places.
What have you found most surprising about being a parent?
My son’s fascination with everything around him. It has brought back so many memories of being outside and finding the smallest of things exciting. The other day he found a furry caterpillar in the park with his friends. Then followed a group huddle and lots of interesting prodding at him before we realised it was poisonous, and then they all had to rush off to wash their hands. He loved the drama of the whole thing! I hope I can preserve that innocence and wonder in him for a while longer.
Do you have any tips for other parents?
Be kind to each other. We are all just trying our best. Sometimes we feel like failures because we get stressed and we shout at our child, even though we know we shouldn’t. I think it’s important not to beat yourself up when this happens as it certainly does happen to every parent (even though their glossy Facebook pages may say otherwise).
I think we need to also understand that every parent does things in their own way, which may be different from our way, but it works best for them because they know their child best. We need to acknowledge that the parent knows their child more than anyone in the world and therefore knows what works best for them...less judgement, more support needed in this world. It’s always nice to pay a compliment to a parent you meet at the park or reassure them they’re doing a great job when their child has a meltdown, because that can be the difference between them having a good day and feeling capable, or having a rubbish day and feeling judged.
Oh, and put your phone down. Get outside and play, toys don’t have to cost a bomb. Sometimes the memories that last are from outside, playing in the mud and digging up worms.