Today I was given a starter. Not the metaphoric kind, but the actual liquid goo that magically makes bread if you feed it daily.
I’ve always wanted a home that smelt of fresh bread so whilst I haven’t actually started yet (can’t start without the starter) I’ve got goals.
As I was feeding my new pet – seriously, I have to feed it daily with flour and water so it can grow and bubble – it occurred to me how alike my starter and I were.
You see, every day this starter stuff bubbles away whilst it devours the new layer of flour and water you heap on it. The more you grow it, the more loaves of bread it will make and the healthier, happier and rounder your cherub-cheeked offspring will be.
But neglect it and it flattens, ceases it’s happy bubbling and starts to lose its magic so it can no longer produce a hearty loaf.
See where I’m going?
This morning I was tired, bordering on flat, dull and uninspired. Then through my door came the flour and water – the Sprouts girls, Sharni with her (actual) starter and Julia with her neverending stash of green tea bags – ready to start work on our new show.
We spread our food goodies across the table, opened our Macbooks and got down to work.
And when I say work, we spent the first hour downloading on what was really happening in our lives right now. We’ve been creative partners for long enough to know that without this necessary and life-affirming conversation, any work we attempt will be inefficient. Like a post-it notepad, we have to peel off what’s top of our minds in order to discover the new ideas below it. And because we’re mothers, wives and/or solo parents, those note pads have some serious mental load scribbles on them that must be addressed.
So we do. And we all feel lighter as a result. My starter begins to bubble.
Then the creative work begins. This is the hot melted chocolate in the centre of my fondue. I LOVE THIS STUFF.
I’m going to have a self-congratulatory moment here. I managed to bring together two incredibly talented ladies that have skills that complement each other but don’t overlap. And I didn’t even know I was doing it. I approached them to start Musical Sprouts because they were my friends and they were musically and theatrically gifted, but their synergy was just a happy accident. Go me.
Now we have on board the Sprouts train a prolific composer of songs, stories and random dance moves (Julia). And in Sharni we have a secret weapon – her Masters in Psychodrama.
What the hell is psychodrama?? Glad you asked!
Whilst it sounds slightly scary – somewhere between ‘crazy’ and ‘theatrical’ – it is simply the practice of using roleplay to address challenges. (prob way too simplistic a description – Sharni will go into more detail on this in another post). My understanding is that it takes a therapy session from a passive conversation to a whole-body experience that delivers results faster and more profoundly by engaging the intellect as well as the body. You can imagine how effective this technique would be for children because they learn best when they actively experience.
So alongside an amazing voice and creativity on tap, Sharni has skillz. And I intend on working her – to the bone 😉
Between the 3 of us there are 7 children ranging from 3 – 10. Our conversations often come back to the recurring theme around how best to parent through night-time fears, fussy eating, tantrums, school friends, bullying, self-confidence and body awareness. After we’ve peeled off the top post-it notes around these issues the one that inevitably surfaces is emotions. How do we help them understand their feelings? Know what to do with them? Where to put them? Recognize them in others?
That skill is the ultimate superpower. Equip them with emotional intelligence and they’ll learn resilience and empathy. Big words for little kids. Big words for big kids too. But so vital to building a healthy, happy human don’t you think?
VicHealth agree with us, and I’m so so thrilled to tell the world that they are supporting us to create our new show. With their help, we will be taking advice from professionals in the early childhood sector (speech therapists, educational consultants and psychologists) and turning it into practical activities for teachers and parents to do with their kids. But it won’t feel like work because we’re mixing in a bit of music, a silly dance or two and a whole lot of funniness.
The best way to change neural pathways in a child’s brain is through repetition. Repetition is easy when music is involved. I’ve listened to Let It Go five times this morning and it’s 8:30am. If Sound Of Music had a song about the periodic table when I was little, perhaps I wouldn’t have given up on science so early.
Couple music with activities designed by psychodrama specialist Sharni to get children into their bodies exploring emotions in a safe space and you’ve got a wonderful tool for social and emotional development.
I’m SO excited about this project. Particularly because I’m hoping in the writing of this show I will acquire knowledge that will help me be a better parent. Help me know how to locate the flour and water and feed the starter in my little kids souls.
But Sharni, Julia and I don’t want to do this in a silo. We want you to be involved. We want you to share your parenting challenges with us so we can take your questions to the experts. What are your parenting issues you’d like some help with? Come with us on this year-long journey so we can create a show that provides you with solutions to real-life problems, provide you with a direct line to experts and deliver a bunch of helpful songs into your home.
The point of this show development is so I can feel like a good parent, helping my children capitalise on the plasticity of their brains at the most crucial time of their lives. So if you’re a parent and you want a shortcut to the tips and tricks we discover, join up here.
We’ll keep you up to date with new information as we find it – in short simple bursts so you can digest it as you gulp a coffee down on the run. Let’s feed this starter together – the possibilities are limitless.