The beautiful bond between my mother and daughters
Fay Karpouzis is a retired health professional, former researcher in Paediatric ADHD, and most importantly, a loving mother of two beautiful girls, one of whom was diagnosed with ADHD. Fay coupled her personal, clinical and research experience to create a series of evidence-based children’s books, called But why…?
As parents, we are always looking back on our children’s lives and wondering whether we could have done things differently. I know I do! From what I hear, being a grandparent gives us the perfect opportunity to do just that. A grandparent has time to reflect without the anxiety of having to get it right, immediately. However, the world is full of new technologies and with that comes a plethora of advice about health and well-being. The question that is often asked of me is… “Where do I start?”. The short answer is… go back to basics.
Allow me to share my story and to give you the long answer. My journey into the world of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) started 27 years ago when my first daughter came into the world. When Georgia was born, I was overwhelmed with the feelings of love, joy and awe. However, they were quickly eclipsed by frustration, tiredness and hopelessness. Georgia was a beautiful baby with dark thick hair and big, dark chocolate, inquisitive eyes. Unfortunately, those eyes were so inquisitive they actually did not want to close at all, not at night and certainly not during the day.
In those early days I turned to my beautiful mother, yiayia Dina (that’s Greek for grandma), and for the record, I still do that to this day. My mother was and is still, my rock. I learnt about unconditional love from her. I learnt that being a mother is one of the most important roles a woman will ever take on in her life. I learnt how to raise my girls on the Greek Mediterranean diet and much much more.
By the age of four, Georgia was diagnosed with ADHD. However, it did not stop there, she also had eczema, food intolerances, dyslexia and dyspraxia. Raising Georgia was challenging and I experienced daily dramas. I often felt lost. Fortunately for me, Ihave a background in health and sciences that enabled me to find healthy and creative options to help Georgia, without medicating her. Education aside, my mother was there to reassure me. My mother also gave me the much needed, “time out” to do something for myself.
When I would come home and I would hear my girls giggling away with my mother it would bring me a sense of peace and joy. I loved it, when I would walk in to the kitchen and they would be making Greek biscuits together and my mother would allow the girls to make the letters of their names out of the dough instead of the traditional Greek biscuit shapes. Other times, I would find her making Greek spinach and feta cheese pie and the girls would be busy ‘painting’ the olive oil onto the filo pastry. I also loved it when my mother would tuck into bed with her granddaughters and she would read Greek stories to them.
Since then, I truly believe that grandparents enrich a child’s life. However, some grandparents may feel overwhelmed by the fact that they think they have to entertain the grandchildren using technology. What I am here to share with you is that it is more important to get back to basics. The research studies that I have read, explicitly point to the importance of free playtime and the importance of getting children away from gadgets.
Here are some suggestions:
- Get into the garden and make a ‘mud cake’ with your grandchild and decorate it with leaves and flowers. You can take the opportunity to teach them the names of the flowers and how the birds and the bees pollinate them.
- Make cookie dough and let them role out the letters of their names, your name, the dog’s name and anything else they want to spell. Then, bake the cookies and have a teddy bear’s picnic in the garden and drink peppermint tea and eat the cookies.
- If you play a musical instrument teach them to play. If you love to sing, sing together. If you speak another language, teach them that language. Lie under a makeshift tent that you create together and read to them. Expand their imagination. Inspire their love of learning in fun and creative ways. And remember, love, laughter and cuddles build magical memories for them.
They say your children are your greatest teachers, and I know mine certainly were, and still are. This journey has culminated in the creation of the But Why…? children’s book series. I used my personal, clinical and research experiences and combined them with my passion for the creative arts, to help parents who have children diagnosed with ADHD. My books are designed to entertain whilst educating not only young minds but, the whole family. The fun activities outlined in the book series are all evidence-based and will give you and your grandchild many ideas about how to get your brain and body fit and healthy, whether you have ADHD or not.
I’m not going to write about the science that backs all of these activities as frankly, there is way too much of it, to cover within this article. If you are interested in which activities help children to grow up healthy in body and mind, you may want to go to my blog page. If you want to download a free copy of my first book, to read to your grandchild, click here.