The thing about parenting is “those” days. I’m sure you know them well: those days when you are feeling uninspired, overwhelmed and frazzled, and the idea of making parenting fun among the daily grind of “to do lists “ (and possible chronic sleep deprivation), is the very last thing you’ll want to think about. Especially for stay-at home parents, the hours of entertaining and catering for pre-school children can often lack that certain “je nais ce quoi”, and creativity and enthusiasm fall into the gaping hole left by never-ending piles of washing and dishes. In the daily grind of being pulled in all directions, a little bit of inspiration can go a long way.
Mum’s the Word: Everyday Ideas to Create a Fun Family Life, by Danielle Wright, is that little bit of inspiration that may just pull you out of a parenting rut. This well-organised compendium delivers more than the standard “how-to” mumsy manuals, especially at second glance where ideas and approaches are insightful and delivered in a simple and approachable way. The book provides easy and relevant things to do with your children, as well as thought provoking insights for parents wanting to go beyond just filling in the day.
The book is divided into chapters on play, healthy homes, eating and travelling. Throughout the book there is a subtle emphasis on creating time to enjoy being with your children, and enjoying being a parent. Amongst the various ideas of “what” to play with your child there is also the “how” of playing, which is a reminder that as adults we need to re-claim play times as something that we still have the ability to enjoy, if only we let ourselves.
The section on “Mind Games” gives advice on how to slow down, not just in our busy parenting day, but also how to get your children to slow down and live in the moment, something they are already instinctively good at, and which often gets lost in a world obsessed with doing and achievement. Simple techniques – such as telling a meditative story to calm a child, or the use of a happy jar, to fill up with moments that make both children and parents happy – are great reminders that parenting can be an enjoyable and conscious process that goes across all ages.
The section on eating highlights that cooking for children can be more than a daily chore, which instead can be made into a process that involves thinking and learning about food as a whole family. Apart from a standard recipe section there is also advice on how to deal with a “fussy eater” in a way that reduces stress for parent and child, and ensures that kids can be healthy even on a limited diet.
Travelling with little ones has some simple advice on where to go, and how to get there with the least stress possible, but also emphasises that traveling essentially means adventure, and that this sense of adventure can be found whether you are going to a local park or an exotic destination. Sculpture gardens, bike trails and even the tree in the backyard all make excellent places to take your children – and yourself – on an adventure.
Light-heartedness and simple enjoyments are at the core of this book – don’t let the title put you off, as Mum’s the Word will be the kind of book that can be used by fathers, aunties or grandparents alike in search of new ideas and motivation to daily child-caring approaches.