3 things every parent should know

Genius hot weather play: dirty, shave and wash toy animals.

There’s a tease of a title: three things every parent should know! When my first daughter was born I remember a lot of childless visitors joking how much easier it would be if newborns arrived with manuals. Not the manuals I’ve ever looked at I thought. This post is by Nicola Baird.

My new book (published on 1 July) Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise your child aims to be far more inspiring than an only do-it-this-way manual. That’s why it’s full of stories of families who have thought carefully about what they need to raise a baby in a world that has to adapt to the challenges of peak oil and climate change.

How do they do this?  Well, mostly they encourage their child to think for themselves by letting them learn through play and doing things together… But first there seems to be a steep learning curve for new parents.

Well no! Every child only really needs love, food and a safe place to live. To ensure families can give this to their children – and respect that every child matters wherever they are growing up – here are three simple ways to raise a healthy, happy child that isn’t complicated and does not need to put a strain on the planet or your purse.

1 Make less waste

Jude uses a bike trailer that converts into a buggy which is fun, keeps her fit and avoids the car.

“Since having a baby I’ve become more environmentally conscious, just because there is so much potential for waste and I feel guilty about producing extra rubbish.”
Jude with Oliver, one

During the nappy years you can use washables (but not everyone does, so don’t beat yourself up or try biodegradable options). There are other ways of cutting your waste that will create new life habits – mostly by buying less. Try borrowing more and sharing stuff. Even if you’ve never done this swap thing before it will make sense because babies grow so very fast.

 

2 Learn with your baby

Jo with baby Jess yelling happily at the wind!

“Going to a parent and child class gives a focal point to the day but I only go if I really like the class. Jess likes being outside really [s0] I lead a more normal life going to the shops, or the postbox or the park.”
Jo, with Jess.

Babies are the best change motivators in the world. As you work out how to care for your own child, and spend time with them as they explore the limits of what their body and brain can do be inspired to learn things too. If something you’ve been doing doesn’t work, or seems like it’s taking you down an expensive route rethink and find a better solution. No parent has all the answers for their own child, let alone your child. When your baby is really hungry, teething, feeling off colour or just having a grumpy hour you will need to be a more patient parent. But don’t let that put you off doing things together, the more your child is exposed to being with you and doing the things you do, the better they will fit in and enjoy their life.

3 Share the work (ie, value local life!)
Even if you are imagining a rota of childcare – mum can do the top half, their dad/co-parent/friend the nappy end, the easiest way to share the work or raising a child is to get to know your neighbourhood better. Can you make use of the facilities? Do you talk to the people who run the local shops? When did you last chat to neighbours? Do you help out and allow others to help you? Give it a try, you’ll be amazed by the results.

Oh yes, the book launch party
To celebrate summer – the coming school holidays – and my book Homemade Kids being published do please come on Wed 30 June to Freightliners Farm, from 4pm and if you’d like to come please do (with your baby or child!). And don’t forget your chance to win a free copy of the book (see last blog entry).  See you soon, Nicola x

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