Thursday, 30 May 2013

Reinforcing your child's sense of belonging in their family home(s)

 Children crave stability, and a sense of belonging.  As parents there is only so much we can do to provide a home that doesn't move, a family that stays together and a continuum of schooling where the child sees the same faces throughout their education.  Realistically, for most people, the idea of living in the same home for generations and being embedded in a village style community isn't something we can, or even would want, to provide.  This is not to say that we shouldn't be aware of how much
change can upset our kids though, and there are many ways we can help to raise children who feel like they belong.  As a child my family moved a few times for jobs, and it always troubled me that I couldn't reply to the simple question in French classes 'where are you from?'.  I was born in Scotland, but left as a tiny baby, and my family and accent weren't Scottish, so I couldn't claim to be 'from' Scotland.  Likewise Devon, or
 Buckinghamshire, or Worcestershire, or Cambridgeshire.  My parents were however (and still are)  masters of making you feel loved and cherished and this is an environment I want to imitate as I learn to be a good parent myself.

One way I am attempting to do this is my making the children feel that they are at the heart of our home.  They have reminders of this in every room, from the pictures of them on the walls and mugs (from Tesco and Snapfish), the silly cows at the bottom of the stairs above Ollies throne area (not that he uses his potty any more, but it will be there for Toby in due course), the areas for toys and books all over the house, and in the artwork in their bedrooms.  No-one visiting us could have any doubts that our lives
revolve firmly around the children, and I hope in so doing that the boys will grow up knowing they are loved and we belong to each other wherever we end up.

Although I have painted a door mural, most of the environmental enrichment is completely moveable.  This has been a conscious intention from the start, because who knows where any of us can end up in the future, and if we need to move for jobs, we will be able to make the unfamiliar familiar with the personal touches from our old home.  The drawing I made for Ollie when he was a baby will go up in any bedroom he has, until he decides he's too old for it at least.  The map beneath it is a lovely new addition from http://www.paperthemes.co.uk/gifts-greeting-cards/personalised-posters/.  This company offers a range of personalised stationary, including fab posters which you can customise with your details. In our case I chose one that we can use to track our travels as a family, customised with our name and the date of our wedding.
The company also does posters for all sorts of events, such as to welcome a new baby, or for a christening (I was very tempted by these, but with four new babies arrived or on the way this year from close friends and family, plus a christening next week, I couldn't pick between them).

Our poster arrived this week, and I'm really pleased with the quality and finish.  I've mounted on corrugated cardboard so we can stick pins in of the places we've visited together as a family.  I think I'll look out for some tiny pins or stickers so we can colour code the places we've been and the places we dream of seeing.

For families where one parent works abroad, like those in the armed forces, this could be a nice way of tracking where the absent parent is, so children can visualize where mum or dad is at any given time.  Or perhaps for children who have family abroad, or an international heritage, it could be a way to place everyone.

However you do it, your little ones will surprise you by how much they notice and appreciate the new additions you make with them in mind, and in years to come I hope mine are mentioning how much they felt cherished as a child when they are my age now x

This post was sponsored, but the ideas and images are all my own (lets face it, much as we love it, you're never going to see my house in ideal homes!)