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Lots to share: from ways to play to sensible products for kids

Speech and Language Therapist and mother of two, ZAZI HENDERSON, started blogging about play and communication when her firstborn was six months old. Three years later, she has over 30,000 followers on Instagram and has turned her attention to designing resources to support children’s development. From Durham in the UK originally, she now calls Christchurch home. Our editor, KATE BARBER, caught up with Zazi to find out more about her family, her business and her passion for supporting parents. 

Tell us about your kids.

My son August is three and a half. He’s inquisitive, caring and brimming with big ideas. For a year, he was obsessed with bins and bin lorries. Now we’re in our dinosaur stage – I have learned so much from him because you need to be able to identify every type of dinosaur to have a conversation!

Etta is one and a half and so incredibly independent and outspoken. I’m wowed every day with the things she’s coming out with and the ways she’s communicating with us. Etta loves to dance and get up to mischief. She’s just a fun little thing. 

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Why did you start blogging?

As a first-time mum, my life changed from working and managing a multidisciplinary team to nappies and making lunches – I was cutting a lot of veg! I wanted to use my Speech and Language Therapist brain again and keep parents out of the ‘google-hole’ when they were concerned about their child’s development. 

I started sharing how I was playing and interacting with August to support his communication development. It was heartening hearing people say, “That’s achievable – I’m going to try that!” I am most passionate about empowering parents to understand that they’re their child’s first teacher and so capable of having a huge impact on their child’s development. It’s not about making time for something new; it’s about working strategies into the routines you already have. 

When it comes to parenting, what challenges are you facing now?

I have a real toddler! He’s battling some big feelings and at any given time he can throw things and scream. Plus, my kids fight sometimes! My little one bites the bigger one, and now the big one thinks, I’ll bite you back – that’s how they are communicating. 

Do you share your own parenting struggles with your followers?

I try to be candid with what I share, messy house and all, but I don’t share my kids when they’re upset, as that’s when they need me the most. I have to be mindful of telling my followers that my kids have tantrums too, and that I won’t share that out of respect for them. No parent is perfect, and I’m far from that.  

What made you start designing your own products?

As August moved through each developmental stage, I began to realise that the sorts of products I wanted and understood were good for development were not easily accessible in New Zealand. So I started teaching August to sign and created posters and visuals for my family that I could share.  

I became more frustrated when we started our solids journey – there are so many tricky-to-use spoons and plates with divided sections on the market! Therefore I decided to take things into my own hands and design my own feeding range. We have just launched our Clever Spoons®, and I’m so proud to have created something that makes sense to kids.

How do you find time for your blog and business? 

It’s chaotic! It’s just me and my partner, Jon. We work so hard each night when the kids are in bed to build the business. I dread to think how many unpaid hours I’ve put into it, but it’s all been worth it as I’ve built such a wonderful, supportive community around me. 

What’s your biggest piece of advice for parents?

It boils down to respecting your child and trusting that they are going to get there in the end. They all do things at different speeds, and if we kindly support them and give them some grace, they’re going to turn out to be awesome people. They’re already awesome! They’re just bumping along the road. Remember – all behaviour is communication.

If you want to learn more about how to support your child’s communication, development and feeding journey, you can find Zazi and a link to her Instagram at zazi.co.nz.

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