The best thing about our Playful Path is that it is a reflective and ongoing process that empowers parents to attune themselves to their family.
It’s not a one size fits all.
All the information in the world will only help you if it takes you closer to your own values.
Before we go into the different tools we’ve created in our Playful Path, there are a few important ideas that Playful Families has been built on that I’d love to tell you about…
Playful Families Foundational Values
- Children learn through play
- Empowered parents raise empowered children
- Connection not perfection
- Everyone is unique and individual, with different interests, needs and strengths
Children learn through PLAY
Our first value is what started me on this journey.
As a former teacher who went on to have four little people (under the age of five), I have seen time and time again firsthand the incredible impact that play has on little minds and bodies.
We have an entire membership dedicated to it – called Play Squad!
So WHY is play so important?
In a nutshell…
It’s the way children are biologically wired – it is central to a child’s learning and development. So much so, that play is recognised by the United Nations as a child’s fundamental right.
When a child plays, it gives him/her lots of different ways and opportunities to learn.
- builds confidence and resilience
- helps develop concentration
- helps a child feel loved, happy and safe
- develops skills (social skills, physical skills, fine motor skills, language and communication)
- helps a child learn to care for others and the environment.
I will write another post about the importance of play – but until then, know it is a BIG DEAL for our little people, and my entire business is built on how important it is!
Empowered Parents Raise Empowered Children
My children may have their books rainbow-ordered on a ‘shelfie’, but here at Playful Families we are about so much more than ‘pretty’.
We recognise that parenting playfully starts from the inside out.
What does that mean exactly?
We grow ourselves, we grow our children.
Parenting is one area we all have a deep desire to ‘get right’.
It’s not just about us anymore – we are literally raising another human (or four in my case), equipping them to the best of our abilities with tools and strategies to help them navigate their life.
While the stakes to ‘get it right’ or ‘not stuff it up’ may be higher when viewed through the lens of raising a child, one of our foundational values here at Playful Families is that we are all learning and growing alongside our children.
We believe in parenting with a Growth Mindset.
A Growth Mindset is the belief that abilities can be cultivated.
NOBODY knows all the answers.
Nobody is born a mother.
We BECOME mothers.
This process of becoming means that we all have the capacity to learn and grow, starting from where we are RIGHT NOW (and yes, even if you screamed at the kids before reading this).
Having a Growth Mindset means you are always learning and it’s never too late to make a more positive choice.
It takes the pressure off feeling the need to be ‘perfect’ or to get it right.
(And hint – we have a saying about perfect around here… check it out below ????????)
When you make a mistake, if you do not know how to handle a situation or wish that you handled it better (as we ALL invariably do)….
….it’s not an indication that you are a ‘bad parent’ doomed to be a failure.
It’s an opportunity for growth and learning.
And just quietly, want to know what the only constant factor in this crazily amazing parenting journey is?
What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, so adopting a growth mindset ensures that your parenting approach evolves and changes as your children do.
Choosing growth means freedom from the old, embedded, habitual reactions that don’t serve you OR your child.
Freedom from patterns that end in stress, that can end in peace instead.
We also believe that by viewing parenting through this lens of continuous growth has a powerful impact on our children, too.
When we speak candidly about the struggles and mistakes we’ve made (as well as what we’ve learnt from them), it shows our children that taking risks and making mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.
Growth blossoms in the mess of life.
Failure is not an identity (I am a failure), it is an action, one which you can repeat (this happened, I can do it the same) or change (this happened, and next time I will do xyz differently).
Connection (NOT Perfection)
At Playful Families, the third of our core values is CONNECTION.
There are two important parts to this:
- connection to your child
- connection to yourself
In a world where ‘compare despair’ is on the rise, where other people’s highlight reels are put on a pedestal and compared to behind-the-scenes and messy aspects of real life, it’s more important than ever for parents to seek CONNECTION with their children and themselves, and not ‘chase the unicorn’ (aka try to be perfect).
When we are looking externally for what we should do, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not enough.
‘That mum is always doing activities with her child! I haven’t done anything.”
“Her daughter is writing already? Maybe I need to get those types of alphabet toys too...”
Here’s the thing: at times it can feel like the list of things we ‘need to do’ can get longer and longer when we compare ourselves to others.
But when we prioritise connection? It simplifies everything.
BUT… before you add ‘one on one play session’ to your to do list – please hear me out: I’m not advocating approaching connecting with your child as a duty or something to add to the list of alllll the things.
I’m talking about capitalising on those micro moments of connection that exists in the day-to-day.
Those little micro-moments already there are simple, beautiful opportunities to connect.
Simple things like:
- smiling at your child when they first wake up in the morning
- putting a silly voice on when reading a favourite story
- giving them a tickle or a raspberry on the neck when putting their seatbelt on in the car
- talking candidly when preparing food
- smiling when your child walks in the room
- sharing ‘best thing, worst thing, funniest thing’ at the dinner table
- a simple pat on the shoulder so they know you’re thinking of them
- looking at photos of when your child was a baby together
- having an impromptu dance party when you hear a song come on that you all enjoy
- singing together in the car
- playing ‘remember when’ – fondly remembering a fun time you’ve had in the past/when your child was younger
Children are more likely to cooperate when they believe we are on their side. They feel seen. They feel heard. And they feel like we have their back!
The second part to this:
When we have little people that are entirely dependent on us, it can be incredibly challenging as you are ON, 24/7.
Another important part of connection is realising that WE – the mothers, the parents, the caregivers – are humans in our own right.
We need to carve space and time to connect with ourselves, and ensure that our own needs are met.
It’s extremely hard (slash almost impossible) to be a constant source of presence, understanding and connection to support your child when you feel that your own needs are not being met.
We need support, so we can be supportive.
This was a HUGE one for me – and one that is a constant work in progress.
Everyone is Unique and Individual
In the first minute that a baby is born, they are tested and get a score. (Ahhh the APGAR test!)
Mother’s Groups talk about how long babies sleep for.
How regularly they are feeding.
We look to those around us to see ‘how we are going’.
When you are a new parent, it’s so natural to compare your child with those around you.
We look towards benchmarks to gauge how our child is going.
In a world where information is at your fingertips at the drop of a hat, it’s easy to compare what other people’s children are doing compared to your own.
This can also happen between siblings!
And yet, there is so much fear surrounding our little people and their capabilities. We try to hurry development along instead of championing it at every point along the way!
Of course, this is often easier said than done. Not only are we constantly bombarded by advertisements preying on our insecurities, but recent studies show that social media sites actually feed jealousy by creating the illusion that other people are living happier, more fulfilled lives than our own.
It is also easy to compare your child to what you thought they’d be like!
- a baby in your mother’s group starts sleeping through at 10 weeks (while you are still up eleven millionty times every night)
- The extroverted mum who thought her daughter would love being around other people.
Honour the inherent timeline of growth embedded inside your unique child. Development should never be hurried for the sake of convenience OR competition.
Hey - I'm Amy! I help Mums ditch perfection and embrace the joy and connection that exists within the messy, ordinary moments of family life.
Find out how to ditch the ‘shoulds’ of unicorn parenting, build more joy and connection with your little ones, and have fun doing it!