Children nowadays face a lot of societal pressures. We expect them to be achievers in school or sports, have many friends and be better than the next kid. Parents tend to push their children to mingle with other kids, putting them in the spotlight. However, this does not only increase your kid's shyness, it also makes them feel insufficient and affects their overall confidence level.
I don't often get called effortless: In fact in a stand up contest with a one legged emu I reckon I would still come off looking more awkward. It's a natural gift of mine, my hair is never tidy, my clothes are always creased and I never, ever look like I have my shit together. This is especially true of birthday parties...
I have grown up with both my parents and still live with them today, I have always been allowed to go out with friends and even trips up London without my parents for almost 5 years, but why is it that so many parents are so protective over their children. Is it because they're worried that their child may get kidnapped? Murdered?
I have never seen any dads in the hub. Not even partners. The hub is usually a child-free zone too, a place of mothers in conversation while their children fend for themselves. This day there were lots of crying and distressed pre-school children who needed the attention of scattered lone parents, before their actual parent in the hub noticed.
As I recalled my earliest memories I was keen to impress on the group that I don't look back and see my time in foster care as a negative, my expression wasn't from feeling sorry for myself, I completely understand that in the absence of my biological father, my very young mother, too young to even consider a woman would want to get herself together after having me at the age of 15 and, in some respects I think it was very brave decision to take. I didn't say this in front of the room of kids but I'd prefer to be fostered than to have been aborted and to not have had the privilege of life in the first place!
I see gender differences in attitudes to competitiveness in my own family. My kids running down the stairs, shouting "last one down is a rotten egg" and the would-be rotten egg usually cries. So I discourage the competing, in a bid to avoid the tears. My husband on the other hand actively encourages competition - though usually as a means to an end.
I remember a work colleague of mine from some years ago, who regularly told me that work was easier than looking after his kids. "The office is a break for me," he used to say, "I'm heading home now to the real job". I didn't have children at the time and I assumed he was exaggerating. In fact, as the work we were doing at the time was very challenging, I thought it was a form of self-praise - a humble-brag of sorts.
If you have particularly excitable or boisterous kids with short attention spans, there are plenty of educational attractions that will keep even the most hyperactive child amused this summer. Here are some fun, child friendly days out in the UK where there's plenty to learn about: but there's also plenty to see, play with and do.