The moment I realised I've been doing this parenting thing all wrong

Our favourite blog from last week’s iBlog Friday has been chosen. Nami Clarke of Bubba Gum HQ has won with her post Stripping Back? Congratulations Nami! Your Cetaphil pack is in the mail!

Nami shares the moment she realised she’d been doing this parenting thing all wrong.

I remember the day that mum waltzed in the door of my childhood home carrying a video cassette player under her arm.  It was seriously fancy and I am quite certain that we were the very last family in the nation to own one.  It was strictly reserved for very special occasions.  We lived in a solar-powered house so even watching the colour telly was a treat; for the majority of days it was the old black and white job with its pull-out power knob that would clickety-clack through the channels.  This was the late '80s, not the 1950s, by the way. As kids we were taught to cherish everything that we had and on the occasions we were treated with something special it felt like Christmas.

On weekends my brother, sister and I would go yabbying and fang about on our BMX's.  We'd spend hours raking back leaves and sticks throughout our 20 acre property to create elaborate race tracks for our bikes, complete with jumps and hairpin bends.  We collected firewood and kindling to heat the water in our Copper so we could have hot showers and baths.  In fact, having a hot shower meant that our dear dad would climb a ladder with said hot water, fill a 44 gallon drum that was fashioned to the roof above our bathroom and the water would be gravity-fed down a pipe and through a shower head.

We lived in a shed while our parents built a mudbrick home with their own hands - not with tradies. Having three young kids and having to do everything without eletricity (such as washing clothes, sheets, towel, everything by hand) must have posed so many challenges for my parents and while we lived simply we never, ever felt like we went without.

We would go out to dinner only if it was mum or dad's birthday to the local Chinese restaurant or the pub.  That was it. For the year. If we went on holiday we would drive, whether it was 200 or 2000 kilometres away. After we piled out of the car at our destination we would pitch our tents and spend the week swimming and cooking and reading and getting grotty, without the distraction of iPhones or iPads or any other technology. And hotels? Ha!  The one time we stayed in one was enough of a special occasion to warrant a golden photo moment; it is night time and all three of us kids are dressed in our bathers, posing for the camera as we sit on a cheap and cheerful hotel bed. Even though it was the middle of winter we were determined, come hell, high water or hypothermia, to make the most of the hotel pool.  Not surprisingly we had the facilities to ourselves.  To this day I can picture all five us, shivering and giggling like maniacs, as we piled into the outdoor spa.  Life was good.

I have spent the last week holidaying in a small coastal town in New South Wales.  In the town there are two caravan parks, a petrol station and a general store. That is it.  We are away for just two weeks but you could be forgiven for thinking we are relocating permanently. We brought with us two car seats, a pram, two suitcases, and another small carry-on bag.  Plus the biggest handbag I own. During the time we're away we'll have celebrated Mother's Day and my birthday so within that there are two outfits plus shoes to go with each.  Plus an ensemble to fall back on should I not want to wear either of them on the day.  And earrings to match.  I struggle to pack lightly.  We have two young children.  The smaller they are the more stuff you need, I argued.  The reality though is that we simply have TOO. MUCH. STUFF.


As our son continued to put himself to bed most nights by 6.30pm, it became glaringly obvious.  Although he did not have his bedroom and backyard with bike, trampoline, pedal car, teepee, cubby house with miniature kitchen appliances, fake fruit, craft materials, textas, crayons, pencils, colouring books, blackboard, dolls, teddies, train sets, tractors, remote control cars, matchbox cars, puzzles, books, musical instruments, CDs, DVDs and various bits a bobs that have made their way into our home via numerous play dates - he was exhausted after having so much fun.

We sang silly songs and recited Hairy Maclarey.  We played Doctors and danced to songs that played on midday movies. Mannus played in the front seat of the (stationery) hire car and 'drove' to the petrol station, Nana's house and supermarket before detailing all the fruit and vegetables he planned to buy.  We swam and built sandcastles and searched for special shells and rocks.  We met families on the beach and chatted about our lives and children. We ate hot chips and chased seagulls and walked and walked and walked.

On our third night in the caravan park I watched my 10-month-old daughter have the time of her life playing with a soup ladle and plastic bowl on the kitchen floor. It was then I quickly made the decision that upon our return home I would be culling the 'stuff' that was taking over our house. Whoever stumbles upon our mother load at St Vinnies next week may make their children very happy. But hopefully they'll read this post first and see that everything they need to provide to their child, they already posses. Sometimes the very things we fill our lives and homes with in the name of fun stop us from having exactly that.

What are your favourite memories from childhood?

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The winner will receive a fabulous prize as well as publication as a stand-alone post on Monday. Good luck!