Q&A and Plenty of Play - with Miriam McCaleb

Q&A and Plenty of Play - with Miriam McCaleb

On 12 September, teacher, writer and parent, Miriam McCaleb, joined families at Leithfield Playcentre, along with parents from around the community, for a casual, yet highly engaging discussion about all things parenting – covering topics like separation anxiety, sibling rivalry and self care.

Along with many parents from around the district, the Playcentre families had recently attended two presentations on infant and child development and parenting, by Nathan Wallis and Dr Jackie Blunt – the latter held at the Greta Valley Pub as part of the Hurunui District Council’s ‘Together Hurunui’ campaign.

On the back of such interest, Coordinator Kay Henson was determined to create a forum at Leithfield Playcentre – ‘in our simple little way’; and so invited good friend Miriam McCaleb along for the morning.

Miriam has presented at many conferences in New Zealand as well as internationally and is a regular contributor to various parenting magazines. A ‘voracious student of child development, and an obsessive thinker on issues relating to parenting and family relationships’, she loves nothing more than to provoke thinking about children's wellbeing.

‘It was a pleasure to bring my youngest along to Leithfield Playcentre for a super casual Q&A type session’, she shares.

As Playcentre mum PJ Thomson says, ‘Miriam was so approachable and no question was a silly question. It felt like I was having a chat with an old friend!’

‘We had new people coming in’, says Kay, ‘but the relaxed atmosphere ensured that people felt comfortable and happy to chat, and also ask questions’.

The talk attracted several new parents, including first-time mum, Bindy Rand, with four-week-old, Willow. ‘I felt nervous about meeting so many new people, but I was soon over my nerves and felt totally welcome.’

The morning was all about parents in the community getting together to chat about issues close to them. But the kids were well catered for as well. ‘There was an incredible raft of stuff for the kids, from obstacle courses to painting (their faces!)’, says Kay. ‘We even had a pet lamb join us on session.’

And speaking of catering, young Mason (nearly 4), along with Zena (4) and Delia (4 ½) handed around pink and yellow playdough cupcakes to all the parents, apologising graciously when they had run out.

‘Having all our kids in the room kept us grounded in reality’, says Miriam. ‘Our conversation was routinely interrupted by children passing around trays of playdough cakes, showing drawings or needing to be nursed. This is family. Beautiful, messy, wonderful, frustrating family life.’  

For Miriam, ‘Playcentre supports us to realise how 'normal' most of our mothering struggles are. Playcentre is such an important part of our landscape – being in a Playcentre makes me so proud to be a New Zealander!’ 

All in all, a wonderful morning of engaging conversation, playdough cupcakes and plenty of play – with real coffee and food as well.

 The KEY MESSAGES from Miriam:

-          Make relationships a priority.

-          Play!

-          Remember to sing and laugh.

-          Practise a spirit of “oh well” – often a shrug and a smile will suffice when you’re tempted to hook into another’s drama.

Check out Miriam's blog: baby.geek.nz

Q&A and Plenty of Play - with Miriam McCaleb

Posted: Tuesday 20 September 2016