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Books children parenting reading supporting others World Book Day

Reading to children

Cartoon style pile of hardback books

After I posted my World Book Day post last week I was asked if I could include these statistics:

Did you know: Reading to your child for 20 minutes a day can increase their lifetime earnings by £280,000?

Despite this: Only 18% of new parents read to their children for 20 minutes a day (In The Book reading survey, 2020)

https://www.inthebook.com/en-gb/blog/benefits-of-reading-to-children/

But I felt like the topic was took large to just add to an already published blog post so I’ve written this.

I read to mine from the moment they were born, not only did I read picture books but storybooks, may of which were above their reading age. Also when they were babies, especially with my daughter who preferred to sleep in my arms, I would read myself whilst she slept. But I did not read to mine to increase their earning potential. I read to mine because I enjoy books and enjoy reading.

Even though I was a single parent I chose to home school both mine. This meant that there were a lot of reading opportunities. Every subject we covered involved reading and, as home education is a family activity so was the reading in it.

One of our most enjoyable moments in each month was when the Horrible Histories comic would arrive. We could sit on the couch, read through the magazine and then do the quizzes and activities within it together. I read to them most bedtimes until they were in their teens. I found it was a great way to settle us all down for the evening, but it also gave me a chance to read out loud some of my old childhood favourites, and read some of the children’s books they were reading. Often we would have a novel that I would read to them and then they would read to themselves.

So why do only 18% of new parents read to their children for only 20 mins a day? I think it is because we expect so much more from parents now compared to when mine were smaller. My husband’s friends are career people who work long hours, make sure their kids are having lots of extra curricular experiences but then when everyone gets home they are tired and ready to unplug, so TV is a go-to. And I don’t blame them. I think being a home schooling single mum I had two advantages. One I was not trying to fit in a career around my children’s lives but also I was not having to fit another adult relationship into my life. I had lots of space to read, both to them and for myself.

I believe instead of condemning new parents for not reading more to their children we need to spend time with them and find out why. For a working parent it is hard to get to a library that is open at a time that works for them, because many libraries only have done day a week where they open late and this may not be on an evening they are free. As has been found over lockdown many people, even though they have more time, have had less head-space to get lost in a book. Reading takes focused energy and many avid readers over this time have struggled to read. Imagine if reading is not your first activity to unwind, then imagine you are working all day and trying to run a home too? Where is the time? Where is the head-space?

So I do think instead of saying this isn’t happening we need to find out why, need to find a way to help these new, and not so new, parents, find time to read to their children, and also to be able to read themselves. As someone said the best way to get kids to read is for them to see their parents reading.

8 Benefits of Reading are:

Enhances their literacy and reading skills

Enhances their language skills

Creates a stronger parent-child bond

Better concentration and discipline

Improves performance in school

Widens their imagination

Promotes healthy brain development

Keeps them entertained 

https://www.inthebook.com/en-gb/blog/benefits-of-reading-aloud/

I don’t believe parents don’t read to their children because they don’t want to but because they cannot find that opening into reading themselves. There are many great websites out there to help.

But really as a society we need to ask ourselves how we can stop condemning and instead ask how we can support

How can we find a way to support them?

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adventure being me change creativity family God gratitude Greenbelt movinghouse parenting poem relationships review

So What Have I Done This Year?

I write the family Christmas newsletter but really it is just a snapshot of things we’ve all done and I miss out things that I’ve done and things that they’ve done too. So in reflection of the John and Yoko song “So this is Christmas … another year over and what have we done?” I thought I would look at what I’ve done.

It was at the beginning of January in my new journal diary that I wrote “Boldness to search for my true dreams and to walk them out.” To being with things didn’t go as expected …

  • I’ve had a poem published on a Mindfulness website
  • I’ve been hung out with some amazing writers in the South West and enjoyed some Sundays and a whole bank holiday weekend with them
  • I’ve realised that even though I’m a great encourager and youth worker, which makes me a great learning support mentor and assistant, I am a rubbish tutor and easily sidetracked – into youth working and encouraging.
  • Again I’m a great encourager and supporter but doing someone’s admin isn’t fun even if they find me helpful and my presence in their office encouraging.
  • I’ve been to Dublin to pray with the Interweave group
  • I’ve been up to the Isle of Arran and enjoyed time with friends and time alone and time with my husband
  • I’ve realised I don’t need to keep going to the end and if I stop one thing then a door can open to another – I stopped the Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes MSc at PGCert stage which then opened the door for Ian and I to do something together
  • And that something was to plot and plan and sell our house and make the move to Abergele in North Wales.
  • I’ve been in a play in which I wrote my own script and have been asked to collaborate with the director and other writer again.
  • I went for 2 interviews and got both of them but only took the one which actually led to a huge leap in confidence for me 🙂
  • I’ve had lunches and drank coffee with wonderful friends over the year
  • I’ve driven miles to support my children in what they do and will continue to be that sort of mum – supporting, encouraging and mentoring.
  • I went to Greenbelt and volunteered in The Tank again this year though without my daughter, but this time spent lots of time with a lovely friend I hadn’t seen in ages, and deepened a friendship with a fellow blogger
  • I’ve blogged intermittently over the year on things I want to share, gaining some friends through what I’ve written and losing others.
  • I’ve looked after 4 fish and 2 shrimps for 12 months now
  • Taken our last chicken to her retirement home before we move
  • Walked miles with my dog in all winds and weathers
  • And so much more that I know once I send this post that I will think of other things

So this is my year in bullet point. I’ve enjoyed it and wonder what will come of next year. The word I have written in my diary is “Blank Page – wait for the writer to write

I know each year never turns out how I expected but I must say that this is the first year I’ve felt like I’m standing on the threshold not having a clue. All I know is that at some point in the next 3 weeks we will be on the move to Abergele. I don’t even know the date for that. And what will our lives look like in Abergele? Who knows? But I do know it will be an adventure and I can walk with God, and with friends old and new.

WATCH THIS SPACE!

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empty nest family life Love parenting relational

Not Quite Empty Nest …

… Or is university good for parents?

I’ve got two children. My eldest went off working on outdoor activity camps and travelling about 4-5 years ago. We get confused as to when it happened because he just sort of applied and went. Apart from occasional coming back for a month or two, or to get some stuff out of storage, or very occasionally to borrow money, we really only see him when he comes for a holiday with us, a week at the most. He has left home. My youngest has gone to university which means she went with lots of preparation, a bit of a fanfare, a set date for going, a car full of stuff, keeps running out of money as her course is quite demanding and she struggles to find work that fits around it, and then she comes home for 4 months over the summer. She has not left home yet. But she is in her early twenties, two years older than when her brother left home.

So what I get though is that come mid Sept she flies off and we don’t really see her till Christmas. We get use to empty house, struggle a bit to begin with but use to it and like it after a while. Then she comes back for 2 weeks at Christmas. This is because her friends do the same. So all the time there is this ebb and flow of her not being part of our lives and then her being very much part of our lives. She’s also the child who likes to be downstairs not shut in her room. I think that’s why we never noticed her brother go, because he had been ensconced in his room for months beforehand only appearing to be fed.

But what this does, this ebb and flow, this empty nest but not quite, is that we, her and I, can forget that she is a young adult and can behave/get treated like a child.

We had an incident recently where I treated her like a child and actually she behaved like one. We were both out of order but it came about because we aren’t sure where the boundaries lie. I’m sure all us who’ve left home know that when we get back to our parent’s we behave like children again. I often laugh at my husband and the child-like voice he puts on when he’s on the phone to his mum. I’m sure I do similar. But most of us have our own homes. In fact the only time my son and I really fell out recently was when he was in between homes and not sure what he was going to do with his life. Thankfully it didn’t last long, but both of us reverted to teenage years; him as stroppy teenager, me as bossy parent.

So how do we deal with this? And it could be worse. I know of friend’s children who have come home after university to re-nest. Even though the parents complain I can see the old patterns emerging, and know that when those children finally fly the nest that the pangs of empty nest will not be any easier, even when there is that sigh of relief too.

So is this constant ebb and flow and lack of money good for anyone? Yes we may have a lot more people with more qualifications but at what cost? At the cost of maturity? At the cost of emotional strength? To think of Nelson commanding men at 15, William Pitt in parliament at a similar age, and other great leaders of over a hundred years ago, who were able to leave home and cleave to their destiny. I’m not saying my son is more sorted on his destiny than my daughter but I am saying that her coming and going, flying but not quite, causes emotional stress for both of us.