We sat down with Giovanna Fletcher, mum of two, author of ‘Happy Mum Happy Baby’ and Mother & Baby columnist to talk about sharing, screen time and raising her boys.
Giovanna is a spokesperson for Fisher-Price’s Little People Big Emotions campaign which focuses on developing emotional intelligence in children. According to research by Fisher-Price, children are hindering their emotional intelligence by spending too long staring at screens than socialising with one another. We asked Giovanna more –
Firstly, what inspired you to be part of this campaign?
I think it’s really interesting – as a mum, we want our children to be bright and intelligent but I think looking at things from an emotional intelligence point of view makes you see things differently. I love the fact that Fisher-Price are honing in on this in their Little People Big Emotions campaign in the way children learn to share, care and nurture through play, it’s just such a lovely campaign to be part of really. The toys help teach children lessons of kindness, sharing and caring as each of the characters has their own personalities and quirks.
Can you share a moment where Buzz or Buddy first showed emotional intelligence – did it take you by surprise?
I remember we were out doing something and Buzz said ‘this makes me really happy’ and it wasn’t a sentence we had heard before – it really stopped us in our tracks. It’s also cute to watch little moments with Buddy; you always worry when you have another baby that your children will be constantly bickering or that there’s going to be jealousy, but Buzz is so loving. We’ve always encouraged Buzz to share, but rather than telling him off when we doesn’t we ask him to show Buddy – he seems to take the role of a teacher and it’s really sweet to watch.
Did Buzz have trouble adjusting to Buddy’s arrival?
Do you know what he really didn’t! We included him a lot and spoke about what was going on as we wanted him to feel part of it. Buzz has always been the person Buddy looks up to as his idol, but I think this all stems from the care Buzz took with him when we first brought him home. We had a really sweet moment with the boys a few nights ago when we were reading them a bedtime story and Buddy was lying back on Buzz and Buzz was running his fingers through Buddy’s hair. That’s what you hope for as a mum and I really think making Buzz feel included was a big part of this.
Who do the boys take after more, you or Tom?
I’d say Buzz is a bit more Tom – he’s very musical and very cheeky. Buddy acts like I would like to act on a daily basis but can’t – he’ll feel something and act on it and I admire him for not having a filter! He’s like a little stunt man and has no fear whatsoever! If he sees Buzz doing something, he wants to do it. We’re currently going through a phase where he doesn’t want to sit at the table – he’ll eat a few mouthfuls then go crazy because he wants to be sat in a big chair or wants to use a fork because that’s what Buzz is doing!
A lot of the research behind this campaign focuses on screen time – is this something you worry about with your boys?
I do. I think our generation know a childhood without those screens – we know what it’s like to sit and play for hours or to spend the day playing outside, so for us we have to ensure there is more of a balance. Playing is really when a child’s imagination comes alive – when I look back on my own childhood I’d go walking through fields and have nothing but my imagination and those were the moments that really counted. Of course, there are times when it’s necessary to put the TV on, but I do think it’s important to limit screen time. Interestingly, when Buzz is watching TV he’ll play along with his toys acting out what is happening, so I think there is an educational element to some of the things he’s watching. This reassures me more than it would if he was just sat there zoning out.
Finally, how important are manners in the Fletcher household?
Good manners are so important – in fact some of the first words we taught the boys were please and thank you! That said, every child is different and they are going to have good days and bad days, so I think part of being a parent is riding the wave and just doing the best you can. There’s so much judgement around, but the person who judges your abilities as a mum most is you.