August 09, 2020
Kia Ora ! Ko Beckie Toku Ingoa. I am a 29 year old theatre nurse, Mum and step Mum to two incredible little boys. Little Charlie is 18 months old, and his big brother Parker is 6. With their fabulous dad and hubby to be, Theo, we are situated in sunny Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. We spend most of our days sea side or playing with nature’s toys.
Motherhood has meant being both the most vulnerable, and strongest versions of myself. If I had to summarise this into just three words my top picks would be privileged, unpredictable and full. To be a mum truly is the single greatest feeling I have ever known.
As a first time mum, I felt the volume of advice was overwhelming, and often questionable. When Charlie came along he very quickly assured me that it was okay to learn as we go, and that I didn’t need to know everything in the many text books I had on how to parent “best”. I found believing in this, I was then able to foster a much more personalised, and functional approach to my parenting. I think this is the best piece of advice I could share with any mum to be. In reality, it’s likely the person that knows what your wee ones needs or wants most is you yourself. Trust in yourself and your connection with your children.
A closely followed second piece of advice I received (and loved!) was “Be present”. It’s so easy and near impossible to not, at some stage get so caught up juggling the tasks of Motherhood and everyday life that you can loose sight of time. Time and moments that you might never get back. Ignore the huge washing pile that’s always going to be there. You will never regret it I definitely don’t.
Heuristic and open ended play is BIG in our house, and something I’m extremely passionate about. We strongly believe the benefits associated with each are second to none. While modern day toys often look and sound appealing to younger people’s eyes and ears, the reality is, most of them serve only one or two different functions. The toy has then served its purpose and often (definitely with our kiddos), is never to be picked up again. Often resulting in extra waste and some very under stimulated little minds. Heuristic and open ended play see that kids use toys which don’t serve a specific function. They often consist of everyday objects used around the home. The kids then have to think for themselves in order to play with them, or use their imagination to manipulate the object. This allows a lot of expression in play, and allows me to see where my children’s interests are growing. They are timeless. Charlie’s favourite toy at 6 months was a wooden spoon I brought as part of a heuristic play set. At that stage he loved to explore the shape and textures of it with his hands and mouth. A few months later he used the same spoon as a drum stick on various items exploring sounds. Now at 18 months he still uses this same wooden spoon almost daily in his mud kitchen. Another upside of these types of play, I find is language. Having everyday objects or replicas of actual things (as apposed to a modern day cause an effect toy that can’t be likened to anything) eg; spoons, buttons, pegs, tea cups, tongs, animals, pretend fruit etc benefited his vocabulary and recognition of things hugely. I guess when shopping we are always conscious that the more a toy does the less our children have a chance to guide their own play. Another huge upside of these types of toys is that they are usually made from, or if not usually available in eco friendly options like wood. Metals or natural rubbers.
The hopes and dreams I hold for these boys are endless. One thing that’s really important to me, is to encourage them to always be themselves, and to celebrate that. There is so much in the media now influencing, particularly younger children, to believe they need to act or be a certain way to fit into society. I want them to always understand they are the best versions of themselves, and that is more than enough. I hope they never stop dreaming. I hope they always remain the big hearted boys I know them to be. Above all else I hope they always always know how loved they are.
I think one of the main issues surrounding this is education or lack thereof. There has been a positive shift in recent times which has seen the world start to make more positive choices in terms of being eco friendly. While most of us are aware of this shift, I think there is still a lot of us that don’t understand why and it’s not our fault!! For most of us, we were brought up in a generation where almost everything was plastic and no one knew any differently. I had NO idea the ramifications this meant on the environment up until recent years. I would give anything to go back and know the things I know now. Even after the wonderful changes we have currently made worldwide to combat our carbon footsteps, we have a long way to go. That journey can only continue with educating our children. Without telling them the purpose and importance of choosing sustainable living we can’t ever expect them to be passionate or promote it.
Again I think education needs to be at the heart of everything. If you don’t know a lot about it strive to learn a little more, and if you do share, and share and share it with everybody, and anyone who will listen. There are great educational videos, books and other resources around to help (for adults and children). A quick google search also showed us there’s some great age appropriate activities for kids regarding the topic. We tried out a couple over lock down and it was great! One activity had me and our biggest boy collecting small pieces of rubbish from around the house. We then made a pretend recycling centre (three desert bowls labeled paper, metals and plastics), which he then had a go at sorting out. It gave us lots of opportunity to chat about why recycling is important and how to do it. By the end of it he was more than keen to help out with recycling in the future and loved the opportunity to “save the world”.
Strange times they are. Lock down for us came at a very busy time of our life’s. I had not long started back at work, we were planning our wedding in Bali, Charlie was still adjusting to daycare, Parker was going through a lot of developmental changes and Theo was inundated with work from his recently developed business. If 2020 taught us anything, it showed us that life was short and how it could change at any given moment. Collectively as a family we discussed what this meant, and decided to make a pact that we needed to make the most of our situation and every situation from there forward. It reminded us it was important to take a step back from our busy lifestyles and be present, be grateful and prioritise what matters most in our lives. We don’t often have times where all of us are together for such an extended period of time. We all became very grateful of that opportunity. Each day though, as we watched the news, we were shattered by some of the things other people/families from around the globe were dealing with. It sparked a discussion, which included our eldest, to be aware of how differently this experience has been for everybody, and the importance of being kind. Not just to ourselves, but to our friends and family, and to everyone else too. Being conscious of these things lead to a relatively positive experience, which has continued to better our life, even since things have almost gone back to the way they were. We also consumed a lot baking which I have no doubt helped immensely 🙂
Image supplied by Rebecca via her Instagram account @along.came.charlie
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