I’ve always liked the phrase ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, it conjures up images of community and togetherness.
We had our first family holiday last week and it was the first time for me as the girls main care giver to have full time, round the clock shared responsibility for the girls for 6 full days including 2 days with Grandparents in tow as well. My husband runs his own business so can rarely take more then a few days off at a time, even for his paternity leave so this block of time together was a new experience.
Now I think most people will feel relaxed and refreshed on holiday but I was surprised at the effect on both adults and children at having the extra adult to child ratio, especially in an environment where we all felt relaxed. The girls definitely benefitted. They loved having so much time with Daddy to the point where the phrase for the week was ‘No, Daddy do it.’ when I tried to do anything for them. I think the whole time I did half a dozen loo breaks and got them dressed once or twice!
I don’t know if it was just a coincidence or having the extra people to talk to but their language seemed to improve over the time using slightly more complex sentences, expressing more ideas and just generally being more chatty. Screen time was hardly used as they always had an adult to play with them whilst jobs were done, and of course there was the stimulation and excitment of all the new adventures and activity.
And as for me, on this week where maternal mental health is being highlighted, it was so refreshing mentally not just physically to have some help. What a relief to not be running on empty or not be pushed to the edge of my patience, then just beyond by 2 tiny little tornados of emotion.
The holiday was like a micro guide of how to live happily as a family. Time on our own as a couple when the Grandparents arrived, time totally alone as individuals and time all together as a family. The first 2 were just snippets of time, an hour playing Badminton, a yoga class, a walk, a dinner but all were beneficial and something that I think we need to learn how to incorporate in our daily lives more, not just for a week a year.
I recently watched a documentary called ‘Happy’ (It’s well worth a watch!) which showed how for mental health it is beneficial to live in communities of different ages. After that week I get it. Community, shared experiences, wisdom of the ages, the wonder and excitement of childhood, helping others; these attributes are something that if we take the time to include in our lives can no doubt be of great benefit. After my first few days back to ‘normal’ life of solo responsibility I crashed and burned hard and the realisation hit, it takes a village to raise a child, or 2.