It's just under a week ago now that I got invited along to the Little Tikes event in the centre of London. We were looking at there Light N Go range, which is a fabulously imaginative range where each toy is a feast for the senses of any growing baby and toddler. Complete with sounds, textures and lights all the children there were delighted with themselves as they explored the toy range strewn across the floor. I didn't take Phoenix along with me on this occasion to the festival of toys, which was a real shame for him but it meant that I could have a play all by myself and I happily did just that.
As you can see I was very pleased with myself in their adult size Red Coupe (yes it was adult size, I'm not that small). I also enjoyed watching all the children play and learn as they waded through the mountain of goodies.
What most impressed me was that by watching the children play, I suddenly realised the importance of it for all for our kids development and how clever Little Tikes are at making toys for that purpose, getting it just right for each of the crucial stages our own little tikes will go through.
For example their 'Light N Go' Activity Treehouse Garden would be brilliant for Phoenix at the moment, he loves to crawl (and he's super fast at it) but he just will not walk, even though he can. With the Activity Garden to play with I think he would find it so interesting with the lights, sounds and toys at toddler eye height and things to hold on to, that he would be encouraged to walk without even realising he's doing it, therefore building his confidence through play, so simple, so brilliant, so hard to see sometimes as a parent when you are buried waist high in washing!
Another thing LIttle Tikes were discussing at the event was a survey that they recently took called 'Giggles and Graft' the results were really interesting as you can see below...
I think what we can mainly take from this survey is that we all find parenting just as hard as we find it fun. At the event the brilliant psychologist and blogger Emma Kenny was there to talk us through it all.
Emma is the Little Tikes Play Expert, which is a genius appointment by LIttle Tikes and I believe will sky rocket their toys in to being the absolute best for your child's progress through play.
Emma was eloquent and fabulous, as she always is and was there to talk about the first year of your child's development. She spoke about the expectations other people place on you, once you become a parent and how that can completely knock your confidence, which lets face it, is the last thing you need.
I think that's the trouble that most parents face, the 'expectations' of others are out of control and in our already super stressful, busy and emotional journey of parenthood, it's just one pressure too many. If we just thought, fuck it, I love this little bundle in my life, I'm doing it my way, we would take a lot of the 'false' pressure that gets placed on us away and the whole job would become much more enjoyable and easier.
In her speech, Emma was very quick to reassure us that nobody knows better than the child's parents. We instinctively know what our children need and they know how to let us know what they need and they do so rather noisily most of the time, whether they can talk yet or not.
I look around at my friends children and I see that each and everyone of them are completely different, they are so similar and yet worlds apart and each of their parents know them so well, often better than they know themselves, which is a joy and actually magical to behold.
The Little Tikes survey found that most of us find that 50% of parenting was full of 'giggles' and 50% was full of hard 'graft'.
Here Emma reminded us of one thing, we are the most important person in our children's lives. As much as our world revolves around them, their world is completely in our hands. I think that pressure makes it feel even harder on parents but I don't think it has to, as Emma was saying, it's actually a great privileged and enjoyable if we just give ourselves a break and trust in our abilities as parents.
Most parents of older children and adults say how quickly it all goes by and my philosophy is to enjoy every moment every day, even the 'graft' because we all know from talking to our parents, it will be over in a flash and we will miss it. Yes, we will even miss the sleepless nights and the mountain of washing.
35% in the Little Tikes survey said being a parent was harder than they expected an yes it is bloody hard work - but again we will miss it. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, 'Thank the gods my kids have grown up'. Most people hanker after the time when they had their little ones at home (sleeping through the night or not) and we have that NOW, so make the absolute most of it, relish in the hard work, be proud that you are willing (most of the time) to do it and if you can't do it, don't worry. It's cool, take your foot off the pressure accelerator and the whole job will become so much easier.
38% of parents say it's the little things our children do that help us through the tough times.
Of course children bring us so much joy and as Emma said, there is a lot of joy to be found in knowing we have managed to create the perfect bubble to make our children happy. I think as parents that's all we want. We just want to know they are happy, we don't need money for that we just have to love them and spend time with them.
I was asked by LIttle Tikes to give tips to other parents about how to cope when parenting gets tough. I'm not sure I gave the best tips as I just refuse to let the tough times outshine the wonderful gift of being a parent.
Here are some of my tips though....
Don't sweat the small stuff. So what if it's messy or things don't get done perfectly. I know that Phoenix is at his happiest when I have time for him, when I am playing with him and stimulating him with new and exciting adventures, even if that's just letting him swish his hands through a hedge on a pram walk, he loves it and he thrives on my attention.
Try not to rock your new baby to sleep. I was told by my own mother to avoid this and thanks to her, Phoenix is a dream to get to sleep. Often he just crawls up beside me and falls asleep by himself.
Enjoy every moment, even the tough times. As I have already said, they will be grown up so quickly and we will miss this time and every other age they grow through but we will especially miss them being children, so enjoy it.
I've said it recently in a blog and I will say it again and again. We are their memory makers, the building blocks we build every day will shape the person our babies will become and these are the memories we will cherish so fondly when they are all grown up. the building blocks of the future can be found on the playroom floors of our babies.