With Australia’s temperate climate, my childhood was spent outdoors, playing until the sunset with neighborhood kids, running with my athletics group, and playing endless games of netball.
Moving to New York meant a lot of adjustments, the biggest one being getting used to life in an urban environment. An active, outdoorsy lifestyle comes so naturally to me, and I hope to impart some of the things I loved about my own Australian childhood on my daughter, by following my own international parenting tips.
As a child, sport was a huge part of my life, just like it is for most Australian kids. My husband and I had such a focus on being active and fit as kids – a start to life that we think has set us up for a healthy life in general. We feel that encouraging our daughter to be similarly involved in sports can be beneficial to her in many ways. She is extremely energetic, so we spend a lot of time running around in parks and playgrounds, and we are teaching her basic ball-handling skills with large toddler-friendly balls.
Being laid back.
Australians are renowned for their “laid back” approach to life. We try to bring this quality to our parenting, and into our child’s life in New York. For us, this means trying not to sweat the small stuff. Letting our child’s interests guide the activities she wants to do (she wants to kick a ball instead of dance class? Great!), and taking every day as it comes. We particularly try not to compare our daughter to other children and the milestones they are reaching – instead we embrace her unique path and know she’ll get where she needs to get in the end.
The great outdoors.
We are lucky to have a lot of great parks and playgrounds in our neighborhood. Every afternoon is spent outdoors when the weather is favorable – running through sprinklers in summer, slipping down slides at playgrounds, and playing in Central Park.
Keeping schedules open.
While I enjoyed participating in dance classes and the odd music lesson when I was a kid, I spent most of my time after school just playing, either with friends, or our family pets. We created elaborate make believe games in our backyards, climbing trees and starting up impromptu games of cricket or soccer.
With my daughter, I encourage the same mix of structured classes (mostly to meet other kids and parents to expand our social circle) with the freedom of just playing. I’m enjoying seeing her creativity developing as we offer her tools to express herself -- chalk to draw on the pavement, dress-up hats to pretend to be a fireman or engineer.
We also enjoy the spontaneity of our time together, like deciding each day to do things like catching the subway for afternoon trip to the Museum of Natural History or taking a spin on our local carousel.
Christine Knight is an Australian expat and mother of one enthusiastic toddler. Now living in Brooklyn, NY, she is co-founder of brunchwithmybaby.com, a site dedicated to helping parents navigate the NYC and Sydney food scenes with their offspring.