Raising children can be both rewarding and exhausting in equal measure, and it’s a task that certainly doesn’t come with an instruction manual. You will have received many unsolicited pieces of advice of the years, and whether you followed them with success, or discarded with resolve is of course totally up to you. As with cooking, it doesn’t always work out! Ultimately we all want to promote a happy childhood and what makes each family ‘happy’ is totally unique.
You do parenting your way. But of course, your little one does ‘being a child’ their way too.
What do we all want? For our children to be happy, of course. In this article we share our experience to help offer context around what your child really needs, and how to gain balance.
How to have a happy childhood – A GO GO Makers Recipe
These simple ingredients will help your child be at their best:
- A big dollop of self care (that means you!)
- 9-12 cups of sleep
- A pinch of independence
- A topping of FUN FUN FUN!
Start with looking after yourself, and work out from there. If you need to, ask for help from neighbours, family, and friends – after all, it takes a village to raise a child! We go into more detail on each of these ‘ingredients’ below.
Self Care – Look after yourself
When was the last time you put yourself first as a parent? It’s important to practice self-care as much as it is to look after those around you. According to Psychology Today, children are not capable of understanding the need for balance. They expect us to have endless amounts of time and energy for their every need, which can be exhausting. The good news is that there is a solution, and it involves setting boundaries. This doesn’t have to mean not responding to emergencies, but it does mean having a limit and making sure the little people in your life respect those.
It’s like the safety announcement on a plane – look after yourself before you help others. The beautiful thing is, that when you can learn to do this (however little) the extra energy you have for your children will be rewarding for both you and them.
Let your child sleep
Children expend plenty of energy during the day as they explore the world around them and learn as they go. In fact, the brains of young children could take up to 43% of the total energy used by their body. This means that rest is even more important for learning minds, and that a good sleep routine will help them both short, and long term.
As a guideline, a child of primary school age needs between 9 and 12 hours sleep per day.So how can you encourage good sleeping habits?
There are 3 areas you can focus on to help your child get the sleep they need.
- Turn off screens an hour before bed (do this gradually if you need to!) and remind them when bedtime nears.
- Agree a simple bedtime routine – bath, teeth, bed, book. Keep to the same bedtime every day, even at the weekend.
- Reading together is a great way to bond at bedtime, and help children to go to sleep feeling safe and happy.
Why is sleep so important for kids?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 50% children suffer from a sleep disorder at some stage. Our brains need to reset overnight – so to support a happy childhood, it’s good practice to promote rest through a simple bedtime routine. You’ll know if your child is getting enough sleep as they’ll be better able to self-regulate, better manage their emotions and reactions, which we can all agree is a positive thing!
Help your child to be Independent
Independence in children can be key to maintaining a happy family life. That means letting them have a go, make mistakes and learn from them themselves, with guidance where needed. It also means allowing them to carry out appropriate tasks, and trusting them to see them through.
A simple way for a child to learn independence is by following a routine – like coming home from school and putting their shoes and coat away, washing their hands, and getting their own snack. Helping them to learn simple tasks like this can build trust between you and your child. In turn this reassures them that they are safe and secure. You’re literally showing them by example.
Keep the tasks simple for young children, and be on hand to guide if needed. For older children you could even introduce rewards for tasks carried out unprompted, to help instil good habits!
Let them have FUN!
In a world dominated by screens it can be hard to encourage time outdoors, taking part in sports, or playing with ‘real’ toys. Screens are a big part of modern society – they help us learn, socialise and relax, however they also over-stimulate the brain. Children need help putting screens down, because their brains are not yet developed enough to resist the obsessive behaviour that self-playing videos (for example) can promote. It’s worth balancing it out with fresh air, real books, and even a pinch of boredom.
Allowing children to be bored can help them grow. It really is amazing what you can do with chalk and a bit of pavement! According to Paediatrician Michael Rich, “Boredom is the space in which creativity and imagination happen”. So don’t feel that you have to fill every moment with activities, leaving a pencil and paper on a table might just be enough to kick start their imagination. If you prefer more structure, try some STEAM activities to promote active learning. We also share lots of ideas in our Earth Day post to help you enjoy the great outdoors.
The GO GO Makers way…
We believe in letting children be their best selves, experience new things and make great friends along the way. That can only happen if they feel confident, happy and safe to learn with us. Our holiday camps are based on the above principles and more.
- By promoting self-esteem, we’re instilling the importance of self-care. We’re all valuable members of the community and can make a difference, no matter what that looks like.
- Break time is our version of sleep! It helps children wind down, let off steam, and spend time however they want. We see value in offering space to just shake it out. There are no screens at holiday camp, so they get used to playing instead!
- Independence builds confidence. Each child must look out for themselves, and each other at holiday camp. By working independently and in a team, GO GO Makers children will build confidence and feel comfortable trying new things.
- FUN is what all children crave and seek out, no matter what form that takes. We promote all interests and personalities, and celebrate the little joys of life.
At GO GO Makers we work hard to find ways to help our young clients be their best selves, and enjoy their time with us. We often find that home-time comes a little too soon!
If you’re looking for a way to keep your little one(s) nurtured and entertained during the school holidays, check out our holiday camps section where you can learn all about the activities we offer, and what makes us special.