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Making time for tamariki: The key to raising happy children

How important is it for parents to feel connected to other parents in their neighbourhood?

We believe that positive community connections are so important for many reasons, not least of all parenting.

Our Selwyn region boasts strong foundations and established roots, mixed with new fresh faces and young families that may be here for shorter periods of time. Having a great connection within the neighbourhood can reap its rewards with resources shared, lifelong friendships formed, a sense of belonging and an overall connectedness. As the old proverb goes, it takes a village to raise a child. We want our children to interact with many positive influences in order for them to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment, and therefore we must lead by example through embracing community spirit in its many forms.

When parents feel connected within their neighbourhood (and the wider community as a whole) it opens a whole network of additional support to their lives: a listening ear, someone who understands the challenges that can be associated with day to day parenting, and most importantly the ability to feel able to reach out and ask for support – whether it’s a quick question to an online community page for advice, or something more longer term.

Tell us about a successful initiative or event you held recently.

On Sunday 3rd March we held our Annual Children’s Day event from Foster Park in Rolleston. Children’s Day is recognised nationwide across New Zealand on the first Sunday of March, for families to come together, spend quality time and celebrate our tamariki.

As always there were plenty of smiles from the thousands of attendees who came along to enjoy the various activities and entertainment of our three hour event which included mini ride ons, ‘have-a-go’ sports activities, Pedalmania Crazy Bikes, pony rides, farmyard animals, inflatables, free sausage sizzle, dance groups performing, pop-up drama classes and a huge hit this year: short Double- Decker Bus Tours! We are always thrilled to be able to bring this totally free flagship annual event direct to the families, parents, caregivers and children in the Selwyn region. Families from remote rural parts of wider Selwyn, along with those from the surrounding towns and villages descend upon Foster Park to forge new connections, create new memories with their whanau, explore new activities and enjoy entertainment from across the region. Being able to offer this event totally free is just wonderful, and is only made possible through having the underpinning support from our key funding organisations including the Rata Foundation along with local businesses such as principal partners Faringdon.

The support from our dedicated committee of SPN volunteers along with many other volunteers on the day cements our values of connectedness and exclusivity and bridging the generational gaps between all of those involved is wonderful; we have so many youngsters putting their hands up to volunteer.

SPN Children’s Day is certainly an event that is coordinated with community at the heart of everything we do: a day where lifelong memories are made, new activities are explored, entertainment is enjoyed and we celebrate our tamariki together in a fun, free, safe and enjoyable environment. This event is definitely a highlight amongst our SPN calendar as we thrive from seeing families, parents, caregivers and children come together whilst we ourselves collaborate with various community partners and service organisations to showcase what the wider community has to offer.

What is your best tip to for raising a happy child?

We all want our children to feel loved, to feel understood, to feel wanted and feel acknowledged and so our immediate answer would be that the greatest gift by far is giving our tamariki our time – Time to listen, time to understand, time to appreciate how they see things - even if we may automatically want to chip in with our own opinions, we need to let our children have a voice and grow the confidence to share things with us.

Every child deserves to be provided with a loving, happy, healthy and safe environment in which to grow and prosper, and of course we would hope that through implementing a solid foundation and leading by example, this could lead to happiness. We also need to appreciate that we don’t have full control over our children’s happiness though. We can provide opportunities for connectedness and we should not try to make our child happy.

If we put our children in a bubble and grant them their every wish and desire, that is what they will grow to expect as they grow older, and of course we all know that the world doesn’t work like that. Through teaching and empowering our children to have coping mechanisms (for when they are faced with circumstances that may challenge their happiness) they will grow lifelong skills to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks.

As a parenting network we enjoy being able to connect parents to local service providers who offer empowering parenting courses; workshops that upskill and reinforce successful techniques around so many different areas of parenting including well-being. To this end, nurturing our own happiness is something that we can be accountable for and because our children absorb so much from looking up to us, our own mood and wellbeing counts for so much.

One of the best things we can do for our child’s emotional well-being is to attend to our own: Make time for relaxation (as unlikely as that may sound to many!) - make time to rest or do something for ourselves, and nurture every relationship that our children are exposed to as much as we possibly can.

What events or initiatives do you have coming up that can’t be missed?

As we forge forward in 2019 we have a number of upcoming events and events that we encourage everyone to enjoy! We are thrilled to have two different guest speakers lined up for this June and September:

  • Dr Sue Bagshaw – A champion of Canterbury Youth - will be presenting an event talk entitled ‘OMG They’re Teenagers’ on Wednesday 26th June and will speak about the joys of parenting teenagers and how understanding the changes in their bodies and brains will help parents assist their children to develop well.
  • We have our Kids Cook Mondays Campaign running throughout the month of July – This is something that we piloted last year and it was incredibly well received throughout the region and beyond. Our Kids Cook Monday’s initiative encourages families to set aside the first night of every week for cooking and eating together as a family. We recognise that when children get involved in making their food, they are empowered to consider things such as where their ingredients come from, tasting new foods and learning life skills that take them through into adulthood.
  • Parenting Week runs from 9th – 19th September and on Tuesday 17th Sept SPN are delighted to be hosting 2019 New Zealander of the Year and Mental Health Advocate Mike King. With his determination to shine a light on the affects and impacts of mental health, particularly among Maori and young people, Mike will give parents and youth the chance to hear his insights around family mental health and having a community-wide approach to health and wellbeing. He will share ideas about how we can empower our young people to help them develop resilience and live happy and productive lives.

In addition to our regular Play & Connect events (for parents and caregivers of children aged 0- 5), our Annual Family Fun Day in Lincoln this October, and an incredibly passionate, forward thinking committee evolving and developing our strategic plan, we are delighted to be able to continue empowering and strengthening families across the Selwyn region .

Tell us more About Selwyn Parenting Network.'s often described as the hardest, yet most rewarding, experience a person can have! An opportunity to nurture from infancy - promoting and supporting all the physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs of our children, and empowering them into adulthood... and yes: it sure can be a busy rollercoaster of incredible moments, euphoric highs, and of course more challenging and tougher times too.

Selwyn Parenting Network (SPN) was born from a desire and belief that all families should have access to active support, resources and understanding. We know that parenting can be tough, but we also know that with the 'right help at the right time' the lives of parents, carers and children can be transformed.

The purpose of our work is to strengthen Selwyn communities by providing support to local parents and caregivers of children of any age. We are fast becoming a local 'parent advice bureau' within Selwyn: a network that can facilitate your needs as a parent/caregiver and put you in touch with the many specific service providers and wider community organisations that can support and empower you to fulfil your role with the skills, resources and contacts that you need.

Selwyn Parenting Network Inc was born from a need that many of our own committee members encountered when new to the region - and new to parenting! Many of them did not know where to turn to for local advice for themselves and their families, and this first-hand experience paved the way to what has now become a recognised, hugely supported resource. The Selwyn District continues to be one of the fastest growing areas in NZ attracting a large number of new families. Our community is also relatively fragmented with lots of small towns across a vast geographical area, and so we have collaborated and consulted numerous strategic partners to allow us to determine the extent of what is available and forge forward with breaking down the best line of response as a collective group. SPN has evolved over the past 5+ years and is constantly witnessing the difference that we are making to families within Selwyn. We are very fortunate that this view is shared amongst many of our stakeholders who embrace our vision to strengthen families and communities by supporting parents and caregivers.


10 April 2019


Charlotte Rapley