Happy Families


A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with Chioma on her blog, which is appropriately entitled lifehomeandaway. As someone who has quite recently arrived in the UK, Chioma’s focus is on creating a comfortable and caring home for her family – not an easy thing to do in a strange country where everything is different to what you were used to, and everyone you knew – including the family you grew up in – is many miles away.

One of Chioma’s main interests is in making sure her children will grow up in a happy home, so that in future years they have a store of happy memories to look back on. Having learned that I had six children, she asked me if I’d do a post to explain how I dealt will this as my children were growing up, so that is what this post is about. Of course I can only talk about the way things were in my family, and air my own opinions.

I have many happy memories from the years when my own children were young during the 1970s and 80s. How I tried to ensure they were happy is difficult to analyse but I do believe that one of the key things children need is a feeling of security. They all need to know they are loved and wanted.

Me and Tom

Me and Neil

Perhaps the best way to ensure that is by simply spending some time with them and talking to them. Yes, by all means tell them how much you love them now and then. It’s easy to assume that children know that, when perhaps they don’t. Hugs are good, too. Young children also love to be included in daily activities. Mine always loved to help me bake, perhaps roll out their own little portions of pastry or help to put the cake mixture into cases, perhaps decorate them later, too. Most of them loved to be given a duster, or – when they were a little older – iron some of the simple items, perhaps weed or hoe the garden. There are many jobs they just loved to do. I do realise how difficult this can be sometimes, especially mowadays, with both parents often out at work all day. But it doesn’t have to be for long and can often be incorporated into daily tasks.

Play is always a vital pat of any child’s life. In the 1970s and 80s kids played outdoors a lot more than they do today. There were no computer games or even DVDs to keep them glued to the spot.  They used their imaginations, invented situations or played out stories they’d read. And they ran about, enjoying the fresh air! Children’s imaginative play is a delight to watch. I’ve seen mine pretend to be all kinds of things, from strange, fantasy creatures to different characters they’ve come across. Dressing up is a great part of this, so a box of any old or cast off clothes and hats is great. (These old photos are rather blurred, but are just to illustrate my point.)

My two youngest playing in our back garden, 1988
My second daughter (afairymind) in a oicture which displays her love of making up stories from a very early age.
Playing at hobby horses in the garden

 As they got a little older and played away from the garden, I was always careful to know where they would be, and would never let them wander a long way off, or be out for hours at a time. Traffic danger was never an issue in our village. I would always go for walks with them, go blackberry picking, feed the ducks in the park or have snowball fights in winter. I’ve ‘ve always been an outdoorsy person, so enjoyed whatever we did.

A picnic in the park in 1980
A picnic in the park in 1980


Days out and holidays often leave children with happy memories. But this is sensitive territory, as many families can’t afford such luxuries. I know, because we were in that position during the years when I didn’t teach. Later on, when we had two cars, we started to do holidays, just around Britain to start with., then abroad later on. Seaside holidays, or just days’ out, were always a hit.


Family holiday in Norfolk in 1989. Dad with the four younger kids. The two eldest were watching the silly antics with me.
On a Norfolk beach in 1989

I have lots of photos to help us recall family times from years ago, but they would be on no interest to anyone else but us. Many are in albums, others just kept in a big box. They are old and not expertly taken, so look very poor compared to modern photos. But to me and my family, they are very precious.

One of the things Chioma stresses is that there are always compromises to be made in the process of making a home and bringing up children. In our case that was certainly true. There were a few years when I couldn’t go back to teaching, especially when the last two children were still small. So the biggest compromises were financial ones. But we chose to have six children and that was that. We also needed a rather large house, and had many years in a big, three storey Victorian house with six bedrooms. We all loved that house.

I’m really not sure whether this is what Chioma wanted but, as I said, I can only speak from my own experiences. Just being together worked really well for us.

all of us

52 thoughts on “Happy Families

  1. Love this post! I was fortunate to grow up in a happy, loving home – and didn’t realize at the time how special that was! Now I hope to pass on this gift to my own children…

    1. That is so good to hear – and it’s exactly the sort of thing that Chioma is aiming for. She’s just beginning her parenting role, far away from her family in Nigeria. Childhood is such a magical time, one that all children should be able to look back on with a feeling of joy and contentment. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case – as I’m sure you will have found through your work. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, John. 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading and liking it. 🙂 I always wonder whether I’ll just bore people to death with personal detail. But I did enjoy doing a little bit of reminiscing, 🙂

  2. Beautiful family memories! Thank you for sharing your story AND advice. My own children are grown now, but your blog sparked a flood of memories from the “good, old days”. Now, I prepare to embark on the grandparenting journey and pray to be afforded the opportunity to build even more memories!

    1. Thank you for that great comment,
      Angela. It’s hard sometimes not to dwell in the past, Isn’t it? I felt like the
      happiest person in the world when my children were all at home, and suffered from ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ for a long time once they’d all flown. Still do, at times, if I’m honest. And you’re right, the grandchildren will give us a whole bank of new memories – with better photos nowadays! Chioma’s at the beginning of her parenting role and is determined to get it right. Good for her, I’d say. Thank you for sharing your views, too. 🙂

  3. Millie, this is really a great post. Thank you for sharing your families experiences. My family can relate to so much of it and it’s wonderful for families to have such fun and loveable memories. You have a beautiful family and I’m quite sure they are very proud of their parents.

    1. Hi jessie. I’m glad my post meant something to you, too. Families are so important and I tend to become over-sentimental when I think of my children -despite the fact that even the youngest is in his thirties now, They’re all making their own way in life now, and it would be nice to think they were proud of us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, too. This post has been a lot different to all the flash fiction we do! It made a nice change, anyway. 🙂

    1. Thank you for that lovely comment, Shawn. I’m glad you enjoyed my little walk down Memory Lane. 🙂 Unfortunately, most of the photos didn’t re-photogragh too well, but I hope they hepled to explain my points. Have a great day. 🙂

  4. What you say about baking resonates strongly with me. My mother always let the three of us help – I’m sure in the beginning, our helping resulted more in mess-making than actually helping. When I was a bit older, though, I really enjoyed being in charge of a specific task, like sieving flour. We had a lot of fun, and all three of us still enjoy baking today. Now I’m trying to pass it on to my daughter – she’s still at the more mess than help stage, but she loves being able to ‘help’.

    1. I know what you mean about that age, Sonia, but she’ll enjoy every minute of it, I’m sure. What’s a bit of mess now and then? Haha. It’s funny how much little ones do enjoy helping to bake. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this. It’s good to know how more ‘modern’ mums react to what I’ve said. So many don’t bake nowadys – pressures of going out to work and so on, I suppose. 🙂

  5. Us too. We had family dinner every night, all of us being rowdy and opinionated around a bit table with humble food but good company. Nice, thoughtful post.

    1. Family meals were always the most chaotic in our house, too. Definitely rowdy – and a great get-together every evening. Thanks for sharing that, Jay! 🙂

  6. Beautifuly post dear Millie… Didn´t you feel as if memories were leading you back to those moments… I always feel that way when I look at photographs…
    Your have a beautiful family… Congratulations and thanks for sharing pieces of your life with us!… All my best wishes, Aquileana 😀

    1. Thank you for that lovely comment, Aquileana. Photographs evoke very powerful memories and I have to be catreful not to lose myself in the past too often. We all get the photos out, at times, and have a laugh at hairstyles and clothes of the 70s and 80s. 🙂

  7. This post is certainly warm and beautiful! ❤ I really love the way you raised your children with love and care. It is definitely what children need the most 🙂 These pictures would never look poor or old to me. They are full of love and memories made it incredibly precious and special. I'm happy to see your beautiful family. All the best to you and your family! ❤ Very well done sweetie 😉

  8. Wow, what a beautiful family you have and lots of wonderful memories. I can’t imagine having six children as I only have two, but would love to have more.

    1. That is such a lovely comment! Thank you so much. Louise is the little girl in most of the photos, and she’s not sure she likes my post at all! Still, I don’t think anyone would recognise her from them. They were taken thirty or so years ago. 🙂

      1. She’s always made up stories – usually fantasy ones. She’s got a series of nine novels partly planned. But knowing, Lou, she’ll be my age before she gets round to actually writing them!

      2. Louise has had that same itch for ever. It’s all a question of fitting it in with daily life and so on. Like you, I should have started writing my stories earlier, but family and teaching had to be my priorities. At least you’ve started a lot earlier than me. So, go for it! With Louise, I think she needs to start on something a little less ambitious than a nine-book series. She’s been talking about a collection of her short stories, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Hope your lovely sons are still well. They’re both at an age to be thinking about careers, so I wish them well in that. 🙂

      3. Thank you very much Millie. One of this days, we have to have a good chat. The boys are well, Nathan on study break and studying for his tests in the next two weeks and Chris is on holidays for another week. He is playing rugby.

      4. Rugby is Nick’s favourite game. He only played at local club level, though. He rarely played at all after we got married and moved about with new teaching jobs and so on. Glad to hear all is well and I wish Nathan lots of luck in his tests. (I will email you as soon as I can. It’s my birthday today, and we’re all going out for a meal later on. Lou is at Nicola’s at the moment – our eldest child. I just though I’d try to catch up on WP while I have chance. 🙂

    1. Thak you, Heena. Of course they all look very different today. The eldest is now 42 – which makes me feel so old! But, as they say, you’re only as old as you feel. 🙂

      1. OMG! Really… then what have you done to look this young!!! I would have never been able to guess that your eldest is 42… I thought you eldest might have been around my age (which almost half of your eldest, 23)
        You look fabulous Millie and the warmth which I always feel radiating through your writing is the same as that of your heart! ❤ (I hope that sentence made sense!)
        You're the best 🙂

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