This time last week were were all in my mum and dad’s caravan enjoying the last morning of our mini-holiday to North Wales.
It was raining and the Twinkles had just had breakfast.
Rather than watch TV, we decided to do some colouring. I’d bought some wax crayons and paper the day before so this was going to be a ‘first’ for my two little men.
The boys were fascinated by the coloured marks that the crayons left on the paper and there was much concentration as they completed their masterpieces. All in all, for the cost of a couple of quid, it was a lovely activity for them to do on a drizzly morning.
It was only after we got home and I went though the pics my mum had taken, that it struck me how old fashioned these images look.
Granted, the caravan decor is straight out of the 1980s; the upholstery fabric would probably have been sold on ‘Are You Being Served’. Plus the lighting is off and has that yellow tinge synonymous with old pictures.
But mostly, these images look old fashioned to me because my parents have got similar snaps from my childhood!
My little sister and I spent many family holidays in various static caravans in Wales. There’s almost 10 years between my sister and me but we always managed to find things to do to bridge the age-gap and entertain ourselves. Our parents have got almost identical photographs of us, sitting colouring at the table or sprawled out on the floor — felt-tips and crayons strewn about — often with a look of concentration, similar to the one my babies are wearing on these photos, on our faces.
And actually, that’s a lovely thing. Especially as I don’t see that same air of attentiveness and enjoyment when the children watch TV — it’s more a vacant, blank expression.
Let’s face it, these days kids are so bombarded with ‘all singing, all dancing’ toys, back-to-back TV programmes, video games, remote control gadgets, ipads, ipods and all manner of other techno-fayre that the simple things are often overlooked.
My childhood was pretty idyllic. I grew up in a village — my friends and I would play Sindys, build dens, play on bikes or rollerboots, pretend to be fairies and spend hours colouring and painting when the weather was grey.
It was simple but now, in my forties and can say it was memorable.
If I can give my boys a similar kind of upbringing — made of such happy memories — then I will have succeeded as a parent.
It’s so easy to stick our kids in front of the TV (or other device) these days – especially when we need to get on with things. God knows, I’m as guilty of it as the next person: Peppa Pig when I need to sort the washing – Waybuloo when I’m getting the tea on. And the odd TV programme is no bad thing, after all. A little bit of TV feeds the imagination… but back-to-back TV does not.
As a child of the 70s, I grew up on a diet of Playschool, Bod, Bagpuss and Fingerbobs. But there was no dedicated TV channel back then. Childrens’ TV programmes happened a couple of times during the day, then — when I was a little older — an hour after school.
So from here-on-in I’m going back to the future.
That doesn’t mean I’m going veto technology and pretend that the last 30 years of innovation haven’t happened. But I am going to try and be mindful of the simple things that made my childhood so memorable and ensure that my children have a good balance of wholesome, ‘old-fashioned’ activities together with the things that kids enjoy today.
After all, as my mum always used to tell me… too much TV will give you square eyes.
And that’s not a good look for anyone ;)