Mum in the Hotseat: What are the ingredients for a memorable childhood?

Today’s Mum in the Hotseat, Shae of Free Range in Suburbia, shares what she believe to be the essential ingredients for a memorable childhood.

When Christie asked me what I thought the ingredients for a memorable childhood were I got distracted and started thinking about recipes and how I am always adding or taking ingredients away rather than following them to the letter.

I parent in a pretty similar way. I’ve read plenty of parenting books which can sometimes be like recipe books – giving step-by-step instructions with little wriggle room for individual taste.

I’m a pretty creative cook. I substitute both with the ingredients I have on hand and what our family prefers to eat. I mix batter until it looks right, rather than with exact measurements. And mostly I get it right. Sometimes I don’t. But you can always start again..

I’m a pretty creative parent as well. I take the bits that speak to me and the parts that work. And I’m not afraid of saying that I’m wrong and starting over if I stuff things up. It happens.

But what are the ingredients I think are the most important? When cooking they are butter, sea salt and bacon – the best bits that can improve almost any dish. With parenting, they are…

Children are just smaller people and they deserve as much respect as any adult. A memorable childhood is not based on “because I said so” and feeling unheard. This doesn’t mean never saying no or being cross but thinking about how you like to be treated in any given situation. Respect each child’s likes, dislikes, mistakes and talents. Respect and connection go hand in hand.

This doesn’t have to mean sailing around the world on a sailboat. Adventure is everywhere! It can mean a walk to the park or a drive to the beach. You can even find adventure in your own home if you are open to seeing where the day takes you and trying new things. A bit of risk and the unknown is good for everyone. It helps you grow and creates fantastic memories.

Make the most of whatever time you have together. Be it an hour a day or 10.  Put the phone down, switch off the computer and TV from time to time and get involved. Find things that you like to do together and make time to do those things. Listen when they are telling you things – it’s all big stuff to your child. Play with play dough or paint a picture when they do. Invite them to help you in the kitchen. Watch them at their dance class or take an interest in their football team. Being present and interested in your child (without being a neurotic helicopter!) is so good for their self worth.

Find your ingredients. Even try some more exotic ones. Be creative when you use them and don’t be afraid to throw out the batter and start again if you need to.

 What do you believe are the essential ingredients for a memorable childhood?

Shae is a crunchy, unschooling Mama to 3 amazing girls. She blogs about her family’s free-range adventures and her veggie garden at Free Range In Suburbia.

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  1. Love this post, Shae. Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Great post! I totally agree with your key ingredients and I really like you analogy. I too am that kind of cook, and parent!

  3. Delicious! Adventure, presence and respect… can’t go wrong!

    I’d only add ‘curiousity’ – ability to ask questions about the world and be heard.


  4. I really admire your take on things, and look up to the words in this post. I try to live up to these ideals, but don’t always succeed. ‘Prescence’ is something that I think makes me most happiest and fullfilled (and makes my loved ones feel the same) but is the one I struggle the most with (as I sit here commenting on blogs….).

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