Clarke Gayford, Television Personality and Fiancé of New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is standing with UNICEF to stress the importance of parents spending time with their children.
Clarke is supporting UNICEF's global campaign #EarlyMomentsMatter to help children get the best start in life.
“We are in a really fortunate position where I get to spend time with Neve and I know that not every group of parents, especially solo parents, have that opportunity. We know how lucky we are” says Clarke.
“Everyone jokes with you about not having any time or you’re not going to get any sleep and I don’t think you ever properly absorb just what that means until you end up being a parent and then you sit back and go, well I really don’t have any time and I haven’t had much sleep!”
Clarke believes time is the most valuable gift a parent can give their child.
Clarke’s face lights up as he describes the moment he taught Neve how to climb down off a couch all by herself. It’s these small milestones in a child’s life which are so important. The more a child explores the world around them through their five senses, the more they are able to learn and absorb.
“The best form of entertainment that a child has is actually you. They’re taking so many queues from you. They’re learning how to mimic, hand gestures and sound and they’re recognising facial reactions to things so the best gift that you can give a child is your time.”
Clarke stresses the benefits of child-friendly workplaces which enable parents to spend precious time with their children. Clarke set up a creche on the 9th floor of Parliament where Jacinda Ardern has her office and he takes Neve to see her Mum when Jacinda has a break in her schedule.
“There is no one more popular on the 9th floor than Neve coming out of a lift. The staff up there are just so happy to see her!”
While parenting can bring a lot of joy, it also comes with a lot of challenges.
"When you become a parent for the first time, you're quite vulnerable yourselves, because you don't know anything either. You get overwhelmed with so much information."
Clarke is calling on all countries to implement 'family-friendly policies'
“You feel so responsible for someone who is so vulnerable and so is looking to you for the things that they need in life.”
There is no time more critical to children’s brain development – and therefore their futures – than the earliest years of life. Parents hold the biggest stake in creating the nurturing environment their children need. #EarlyMomentsMatter .