Last weekend Pete and I went on the first session of a parenting course put on by my church. I know – it sounds like something you get sent on by social services when you’re not doing a very good job at being a parent, but in reality its a course that helps parents to equip their children for life. It covers 5 topics over the course: ‘Building Strong Foundations’, ‘Meeting our Children’s Needs’, ‘Setting Boundaries’, ‘Teaching Healthy Relationships’ and ‘Our Long Term Aim’.
I found the first session really interesting, and pretty entertaining (there were some very funny snippets from children and parents on the DVD). The format included a couple of DVD slots, some exercises to do with your partner, and then some group discussions. The DVD is led by Nicky and Sila Lee, a frightfully posh couple from Holy Trinity Brompton church in London who have a lot of good stuff to say, and lots of parenting experience and wisdom to share, and although the course is made and run by churches, it is accessible to everyone irrespective of faith. The main point I took from session 1 was that family is a place for support, fun, to learn right and wrong, and to learn to relate, and that there are lots of things that can snatch our time away from our family. I’d like to try to change the way I do things so that when I’m spending time with the children I’m fully present, but I know that I still need to get things done at home too so I’m still trying to adjust the balance. I may need to start limiting the time I spend on my phone or the computer so that I can have some more time with the children where they have my full attention (unlike right now as I’m typing this blog post whilst bouncing Jacob in his chair with my foot and Natalie’s sitting next to me watching cbeebies!) – it’ll be a process!
I’d definitely recommend the course to any parents, whatever stage you’re at – I think it’s really important to invest in your family as the things you do while your children are young will help to shape the adults they become. You can watch the Parenting Children Course Promo Video here, and if you’d like to attend the course in future you can register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and telling them you’d like to be informed of the next parenting course.
Alongside the Parenting Children Course, my church also regularly runs The Marriage Course (watch the promo video here). Pete and I did this last year and got a lot out of it – it’s advertised as an MOT for your marriage, and we found it really helped to re-focus us on our relationship since having children as our attention had been mostly on being parents. If you’d like to know more about this course there’s some information here.
We’ve already started to do some things differently since the first session of the Parenting Children Course. At bedtime we’ve started asking Natalie 2 questions: ‘What was the best thing about today’ and ‘What was the saddest thing about today’, which we’ve found is a nice way to reflect on the day and gives her the space to talk about her feelings. We were also encouraged on the course to introduce a family ‘date’ night into our routines, so we’ve got our first date this evening after dinner where we’re all (well, all except Jacob) going to spend some time drawing pictures of our family.
The other night Pete and I started to make a list of other activities we can do on our family date nights and here are a few we came up with:
- playing a game together (such as Hungry Hippos)
- watch a film in mum and dads bed with pjs on just before bedtime
- cook a meal together
- scavenger hunt
- make ice cream sundaes
- go for a family walk
Do you already have a regular family date night?
What sort of things do you do for fun with your family? Let me know in the comments!