I’ve been waiting for a couple of weeks for a break in the weather. We wanted to see if all four of us could fit in our tent for a camping trip we’re hoping to take next month. As soon as I mentioned it, of course, we were immediately instructed by Katie that we would be sleeping in the garden that evening!
Now it should be noted at this point that I’m susceptible to stress, one of my less favourable qualities. If things don’t go as planned, I become uneasy, tetchy even. So when my eldest wanted to make my technical exercise (tent measuring) an adventure in the garden, it took me a while to agree to it but when I gave in to my freaky controlling ways, it became an amazing experience!
Through pitching the tent, with Katie assisting, I learned a lot. For anyone with toddlers and pre-school children, you’ll know that every day can be very different as they deal with the physical and mental developmental changes they are going through.
I’ve put my top 5 things I learned whilst camping in the back garden. Follow these and I guarantee no matter what activity you are doing, the rewards will be infinitely better than turning into a psycho stressed out bunny!
You don’t have to plan to have fun. Just because we have kids doesn’t mean we have to have rules and conditions on everything we do! There’s no reason why we should be able to react and adapt to our children’s creative needs as we would for their health and well-being. So try going with the flow now and again, it can be quite liberating.
Cooking lunch, packing the car, tidying up, pitching a tent? These are just a few of the several hundred things we do as adults but there is no reason why (when it’s safe to do so) we can’t include our children in these relatively mundane tasks. Giving small tasks to the little one gives them a sense of belonging, achievement and if you follow point’s 3 and 4 it can be really fun for them too!
It really is a virtue, be prepared to wait to receive your reward. Seeing your little one’s face light up when they take part in an activity or if they succeed in doing something solo is the best thing ever. It’s the taking part that counts, not how fast we get it done!
If what you are doing is complex or takes a long time (like painting a wall and watching it dry), consider that your child’s attention span is far shorter than your’s. Verbal encouragement reassures them that they are doing well, which in turn strengthens their sense of achievement and helps to keep them engaged in the family activity. Did you put the toys away in record time, celebrate with high fives and run around the room, which ties nicely into number 5!
Go crazy, turn enthusiasm up to 200% and be vocal. If it’s boring for you, 9/10 times it’s going to be pretty dull for your kids too!
Upon reflection, I think I learned that I can be a better parent for my kids and enjoy the experience of play a lot more by letting go of those controls I have put into place as an adult. I’m so used to things being a certain way and at times it’s been a battle between my life before and after children. Without doubt, it is far better today than ever before and if I ever feel a little stressed out (often brought on when I step on a toy), I just take a breath and focus on the positive in every situation.
Here’s the video of us pitching the tent with Katie and with Connie watching, let me know what strategies you employ when dealing with stress, or on how you create a positive environment for your kids to play in the comments section below!