Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Finding our inner child leads to joy

Finding our inner child leads to joy

Laura Brand: Mum’s Night Out, town hall

THE town hall was busy with a completely female audience and a lively atmosphere in the build-up to the Mum’s Night Out.

Laura Brand’s book, The Joy Journal for Magical Play: Easy Activities & Creative Crafts for Kids and their Grown-Ups, has helped many mums through lockdown, or the early days of motherhood.

The general consensus from the crowd was that it is not easy to raise children and it’s even more difficult to get down to their level and actually enjoy playing rather than feeling it is a chore.

Brand, who was in conversation with Steph Douglas, said that as parents we all need to go easy on ourselves, and push aside expectations.

She explained that the book is more about the process of creativity rather than the end product.

Nostalgic about her own creative childhood, Brand hoped to capture the magic of children and their willingness to have fun without an end goal.

Asked by Douglas to define what joy is, Brand said it is a “warm and comforting feeling”.

She said things that make her joyful are her kittens (she currently has 16 cats at home), nature, and more complicated things like being creative or casting aside the restraints we place on ourselves as adults. But it isn’t easy to do.

With a five-year-old and a three-year-old, Brand said that in her experience “joy was reborn in motherhood”.

It has taught her many things about herself, but after years living in London and working in uncreative jobs, motherhood, most importantly, brought her back to being creative.

Of course motherhood, or parenting, has its difficulties and she laughed at the fact that she and her husband now call holidays “challenges” and that she now knows she is a “late person” because they never make the school run on time.

More seriously, Douglas raised the issue of “mum guilt” — laughing that you can even feel guilty for not feeling guilty.

And that is why Brand’s book, which helps us to reconnect not just with our children but with our playful, creative selves, has been such a saviour for so many parents.

Lockdown, for all its negatives, had positives — it taught us how to play, our daily walks reconnected us with nature and there was simplicity to life.

It was heart-warming to hear audience members open up about their experiences and to tell Brand how important her book was to them during lockdown.

The evening was a fun one. There was a lot of laughter about the hard work that is parenting.

Brand shared parenting tips, suggesting that “positive redirection”, where you offer alternatives, is better than just saying no, but also admitting it doesn’t always work with a strong-willed five-year-old. Spontaneity is another key to joy and often so hard with children.

Mostly, though, it was a night to remind us all to embrace the fun our children see in everyday life, which we are too busy to notice.

It’s about stopping on walks to look at rocks, twigs, flowers or listen to birds, embracing creative mess and not worrying about the finished product.

Laura Healy

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