The Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, has spoken publicly for the first time about her experiences of motherhood – and she’s remarkably down to earth.
Kate’s comments on parenting were made in the context of a longer interview about early childhood development with the “Happy Mum, Happy Baby” podcast. While a podcast is a modern medium for an interview, Kate makes it clear she is an old-fashioned, low-tech mother.
Kate describes her own childhood as “very happy.” She shares that her mother and father attended all her sports games and that her family took vacations together. However, in retrospect, she realizes that what she values most was quiet, one-on-one time with her parents.
Now that she is a mother, Kate does her best to provide the same experiences to her own children. “Sometimes the simple things like watching a fire on a really rainy day provides such enjoyment. And actually, I remember that from my childhood – doing the simple things, going for a walk together, and that’s really what I try and do with my children as well,” she says.
Kate relates that she had a special bond with her grandmother who also taught her the importance of sharing simple pleasures:
I had an amazing Granny who devoted a lot of time for us, playing with us, you know doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse, doing gardening stuff, and cooking with us, and I try and incorporate a lot of the experiences that she gave us at the time into the experiences that I give my children now.
In the interview, Kate repeatedly stresses the importance of taking your children outdoors. She hopes that her own three children will remember “those moments with me as a mother, but also the family going to the beach, getting soaking wet, filling our boots full of water,” rather than “a stressful household where you’re trying to do everything and not really succeeding.”
That’s not just talk. Kate and her husband, Prince William, are putting their beliefs into practice. At a recent public appearance, Prince William shared that the family had visited a farm to see the newborn lambs. He told attendees at the event that, “Charlotte wasn’t sure at first but George was straight in there. Louis loves the tractors.” He continued, “They love seeing the lambs and feeding the lambs.” He also said he believes it is important for his children to see both the country way of life as well as life in the city.
The royals’ approach is drastically different from the way many children today are being raised. Studies show that the average American child spends a mere four to seven minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play time. At the same time, American households watch nearly eight hours of TV per day.
As members of the British royal family, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge have access to virtually unlimited resources. They could buy their children all the latest gadgets or take them to spectacular concerts and shows. However, they are choosing simple activities that would fit even the smallest of budgets.
Next weekend, why not emulate the royals and take your children to your local petting zoo? If that’s too complicated, take a walk outdoors or bake cookies together instead. Kate is right. It’s these simple things that your children will remember in the years to come.
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Emma Freire is a writer living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has also been published in The Federalist and The American Conservative.