As your baby grows into a child and becomes more independent, you'll probably find yourself thinking again about how you can balance the needs of all the members of your family. You might decide:
• That you need to have time when you are not 'on duty' as parents – free time either on your own or together as a couple without the children.
• That your children need to have more chance to develop as individuals, perhaps spending time away from you with friends or grandparents.
• That you would all enjoy spending more time doing things together. Most small children love to have both parents in the same place, at the same time:
• Cleaning the car together;
• Eating together, sitting round a table;
• Watching a video together;
• Going swimming;
• Playing ball games outside, or board games inside;
• Listening to a story together, or older children reading to younger siblings;
• Going out for a walk as a family;
• Clearing up the garden.
As long as they're not followed in a boring or rigid way, regular family traditions can make children feel secure. For example:
• Having a takeaway on Fridays;
• Visiting grandparents every month;
• Watching a favourite TV programme each week;
• Going to see the Christmas lights;
• A week at the seaside every year;
• Supporting a local football team and going to matches regularly.
An ordinary happy family is a loose structure, one that encourages change and growth in the family members, and gives enough security for them to risk that growth. It is open to the wider community and embraces new people and new experiences. Above all, an ordinary happy family is one where thoughts can be voiced and no topic is taboo. Children can say what's on their mind and know that their feelings can be expressed and accepted, even, or especially, when the feelings are difficult.