Last month, I headed to Soho’s swanky Groucho Club for my first Mothers Meeting. Mothers Meetings, if you don’t know, is a pretty incredible movement of creative and inspiring women who happen to be mums. They host relevant, interesting events across the city with amazing guests, chatting mama AND non-mama related stuff (shocker!) I had been following Mothers Meeting on Instagram for a while and was itching to get to an event and this one felt like the perfect one for me.
The event was in collaboration with Fruit Shoot to celebrate their new #ItsMyThing campaign, which champions individuality in children by encouraging them to find the thing that they feel passionate about and go for it! The panel included the fabulous Anna from Mother Pukka, broadcaster and super cool mama, Edith Bowman, parenting expert Livvy from Let’s Ask Livvy, NHS and television doctor, Dr. Ranj and the gorgeous Jenny Scott, founder of Mothers Meeting.
I arrived at The Groucho Club and was, admittedly, a little overwhelmed at the amount of inspirational women that were in front of me, many of whom I’d followed through Instagram. Luckily, Malala hit it off right away with little Jasper and we settled in quickly. The room was full of stylish, chatting mamas and their little ones and we were soon welcomed by Jenny and introduced to the rest of the panel, ready for a good old natter.
Before I had Malala I’d spent the past 3 years as a primary school teacher, teaching children between the ages of 3 and 5. Nurturing self-confidence in children is something that I feel passionately about and it was exciting to see such an influential brand promoting creativity and independence in children this way. We know that whether it is a long-term hobby, or something they just dreamt up last night, the benefits for children that come with being passionate about something are endless. This is because when children are are doing what makes them them, they are at their most creative, independent and brilliant selves.We spoke about overcoming the pressures facing children today, such as doing well academically and growing up too quickly. So many mamas explained the struggle of finding the balance between encouraging their children to do well at something and pushing them too hard. I’ve written a list of different ways that you can support and encourage your child to find their special thing. I hope you find it useful!
Talk to your child
An easy way to find out what your child is interested in is to ask them! Encouraging your child to try something new is much more exciting when it has come from them. Speak to your child and ask them what they are interested in. They might just surprise you!
Nurture confidence from the start
Reassure and encourage your child to try new things. Self- confidence is key and grows when children see that good things come from their efforts, for example, trying hard equals making progress. Show them encouragement and remind them mistakes are fine and help us to learn.
Don’t compare yourself with others
Many mamas explained that they felt pressure to fill their child’s diary with extra curricular activities after seeing their peers doing after school clubs and classes. Try not to compare yourself with others. Instead, listen to the things that your child enjoys doing and encourage those things rather than the things that you think they should be doing. Extra Latin might sound good but does it make your child feel good?
It doesn’t have to be structured
Having a ‘thing’ doesn’t necessarily mean investing in lessons or extra clubs. Sometimes the most creative fun can be had at home with a couple of sticks and some paint! Imaginative play and unstructured activities are amazing for nurturing creativity and individually in children. It doesn’t have to be competitive, take some time to get involved with your child’s play and get to know the free-thinker inside them.
Give it time
Once your child has found their thing, don’t panic about rushing out to buy the latest equipment! Set a target for a number of lessons before buying that drum kit. Children change their minds just like us (okay, maybe a bit more often!) Setting a goal encourages children to try hard at something and teaches them about progress and commitment.
When to stop?
Knowing when to let your child stop doing something is a difficult task. So many of us remember wanting to give things up when we were little and yet, so many of us have wished that our parents never let us stop so that we could be great at it now! Try not to worry too much about this. If your child stops, they can always try again another time. One mum told us about how she let her son stop the piano only for him to return to it later when he was ready to thrive at it, and he did!
Hearing different opinions and ideas from such a range of women was truly inspiring. If you’re a mama living in or around London, find a Mothers Meeting event that tickles your fancy and book it! You won’t regret it. I have no idea what Malala’s thing will be as she grows up but it is such an exciting prospect to imagine her doing something that she loves. So, what is it that makes your little one tick?