Latest research reveals that our kids are in danger. We are not only giving them too much, they are too busy. Planning play dates with precision and enrolling them into an array of classes and activities is leaving them frazzled and confused. We have lost the balance.
I find it both refreshing and encouraging to see this evidence. I constantly have a little voice of guilt nagging in my ear. I call the voice “perfect mum”. It says things like “should you not be booking your daughter in for piano lessons after nursery?” or “get off that sofa and go to the park”. Some days, though, I ignore this voice and follow my mother’s gut instinct which says: “The kids are shattered today, we are just going to relax”.
Research shows that children need down time to feel in control. They need free play to help with their imagination and bring out creativity. Whilst routine helps them to thrive and grow, too much of it can be detrimental. We spend hours thinking about our children’s safety – helmets for bikes and scooters, car seats and the Green Cross Code. What about nurturing their emotional wellbeing? Take a look at the figures concerning mental health in children. They are frightening.
There is a fantastic free course available in Edinburgh called Raising Kids with Confidence. I found it invaluable. I am yet to meet a parent or carer, auntie, uncle, grandparent or friend who doesn’t want to play a part in raising a happy child. We all have a “perfect mum” voice of guilt. As Robbie Williams sings in his latest track, we want our kids to be able to say to us: “I love my life”
My kids have so many educational toys and a social life of which Katie Price would be envious. So why do I feel guilty for the days we slow it down a little and keep things simple? Why do I feel pressure to talk about world peace over the dinner table? My children are four and one. They are not interested in the news. Let them be little is what I say.
Jojo Fraser is a mental health ambassador and author of the popular blog mummyjojo.com