Blogger: Kate Blincoe
Parenthood can feel complicated at times. We become circus skills experts with all that plate spinning, juggling and tightrope walking as we try to do the best thing for our families whilst managing limited time and money. Having just returned to work following maternity leave, this is very much on my mind!
I’ve never been one for relying on a parenting manual to help me with these challenges. I had to fight a strong urge to burn a Gina Ford book in the early weeks of raising my son (who was not keen to be on any sort of routine).
No, I think instead we can look to the natural world for a few parenting tips.
Finding the perfect home
Outside, spring is on the way, the breeding season has commenced and busy birds everywhere are seeking the perfect home for their brood. We may struggle to get on the property ladder, but we can learn a bit from birds who are just glad to find a suitable, safe spot. Their requirements are simple; a hole in a tree, a secluded hedge or four wooden walls. February is a good time to put up a nestbox and give birds a helping hand this year.
People are always keen to upgrade to a bigger place, often painfully overstretching themselves with the mortgage in the process. However, I sometimes remind myself that 63 wrens were found in a single nestbox... and it’s not that crowded chez moi!
Babies fledge in the blink of an eye
Looking at the breeding cycle of garden birds shows you that most young fledge in a matter of weeks. At only two weeks of age most young birds are spreading their wings and flying away. It’s not quite that rapid for us, but it does make you realise how quickly the baby phase is over and that we should try and savour it before we have an empty nest.
Forget possessions and get outside
As modern parents, we get distracted by all the material things we are meant to provide our children with (‘what do you mean they don’t have their own iPhone, that’s practically child abuse!’). In the end, all they need is you, food, water and shelter.
Good old fashioned fresh air is something your average bird obviously gets plenty of, yet we often seem to forget this is necessary for our young too. Time outside leads to better sleep, increased fitness, improved concentration and even reduced short-sightedness.
When I’ve had another night of broken sleep and there is crayon up the walls, I’m just thankful that I’m not a blue tit parent, battling the elements to find caterpillar after caterpillar for my demanding brood. However, I will learn from them, and make sure my kids spend time outside, whatever the weather.
featured in the EDP on Saturday 25 February