It takes a village to raise a child
Tricky stuff

It takes a village to raise a child

As the African proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Clare Tully from The Tully Tales tells us about her personal experience of learning to use and grow her own village. 

Growing up, I remember being surrounded by siblings, cousins and friends. Endless afternoons spent outside playing, and calling over to friends houses without a second thought. Our house was always full of kids, and we regularly went to friends for sleepovers. Cousins spent nights in our house when their parents were away, and vice versa. If kids were in our house at dinner time, my mother fed them. There was a village, and we all had a place in it.

These days, the village seems far away. We’re expected to juggle it all on our own – raising kids, holding down a career, keeping an immaculate home (if only!). We ferry kids to playdates, supervise homework, and spend our weekends shuffling from football practice to dance class – all in an effort to raise active and socially responsible individuals. We try to keep fit, stay up with office demands, and have a presentable meal on the table at dinnertime. And all the while making it look effortless.

No wonder we’re all exhausted, burnt out, and stressed out!

From my own experience, we lived in the US until our son was 6 months old – some 5,000 miles from most of our family. We were very lucky to have my in-laws nearby, but that was as far as our village went. While I was on maternity leave, it was isolating and overwhelming to juggle raising our little boy with the day-to-day tasks that life brings, and keeping it together. Since we’ve moved home, we definitely have more help, with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles around. However, I still regularly find myself in the mindset of having to do it all myself. God forbid, I would show any weakness and ask for help. Particularly now that I’m a stay-at-home mum.

It takes a village to raise a child

Part of the problem, in my opinion, is the pressure that society places on parents these days. In a shift from our parents era, life is now played out in public on social media platforms. There has never been so much pressure to keep up with the Joneses, with their picture perfect family photos on Instagram, making it all look so easy (guilty as charged).

Another factor is the battle for equality. Women have come so far in fighting for their place on the workforce, that we feel like we need to keep up. Any slip of the facade makes us feel weak, and any semblance of family responsibilities affecting our jobs makes us feel vulnerable.

But it really shouldn’t be this way. Aren’t we all in it together – mums and dads, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends?

It’s time to bring back the village. It’s time to ask for help, and to help out others. If you see a mum at the park trying to wrangle a toddler off the jungle gym while balancing a baby on her hip, give her a hand. If you have friends who are new parents, offer to watch their child while they go for a meal, a walk or even a much needed nap. Watch out for that mum in your life with too much on her plate – take her kids out for an afternoon and give her a break. If you’re lucky enough to have people in your life like this, reciprocate. None of us have this parenting gig down, we are all struggling. Build that village, support each other, and know that everyone is in the same boat.

 Find more from Clare on her blog The Tully Tales

ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
MUST READ

ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….