This week (1st-7th February!) is Children’s Mental Health Week here in the UK. And with the theme this year being ‘Express Yourself’, we thought that it was only apt that we share our interview with Molly Oldfield. A published author and creator and host of the family podcast ‘Everything Under the Sun‘.
Can you first start by introducing the podcast.
‘Everything Under The Sun’ is a weekly podcast answering all the most pressing questions children have about life on earth! I’m the host and I bring years of experience of researching answers (and questions) as I was the original ‘elf’ or question writer on the BBC TV show QI, for all the years it was hosted by Stephen Fry. I wanted to use all my experience and share it with children – when I had two of my own – and so began Everything Under The Sun. It’s free to download wherever you like to listen to podcasts, on itunes, spotify and more.
What was your inspiration behind starting the podcast?
I had the idea when a friend’s daughter, named Bea, read one of my books called ‘Wonders of the World’s Museums’. In it I write about the blue whale in the Natural History Museum. Bea went to see the whale for herself and I asked her if she had any questions and she said, ‘can blue whales talk to killer whales?’ I thought that was such a fantastic question I decided to answer if for her with help from the Natural History Museum and I recorded the answer – the podcast was born! That question and the answer became the first one ever on the podcast.
Who has been your favourite person/special guest that has collaborated on an episode?
I’ve loved all the guests! Everyone has been so generous. I love it when experts in their field share their knowledge with children. Recently I’ve really liked Grayson Perry talking about clay and Lauren Child, creator of Charlie & Lola talking about daydreaming.
How have you and your children coped with lockdown?
We have been mixed! We struggled in the first lockdown mainly as there was so much fear around the virus. This time around is a lot better as there’s a vaccine and I feel more relaxed now as I’ve got used to all the changes – social distancing, masks and so on that seemed so scary in lockdown 1. My children have coped brilliantly! They’re young so one is too small for school anyway and the other has just started at a new preschool which is mostly outside on a farm, so he’s very happy and it gives us a nice structure to the day dropping him off and collecting him. They’ve been brilliant.
What impact do you think the pandemic is having on children’s mental health?
I imagine a lot of children are suffering from not being able to see their friends and play with children their own age. Being stuck at home with parents all day must get a little boring. But this time will be over soon and children are resilient, I hope schools will reopen soon and children can get back to playing and learning with one another rather than in their own homes.
What would be your top tips for helping parents to manage the current situation with home-schooling?
Take each day at a time, don’t worry about what’s for lunch, something simple will do! Try to enjoy this strange time as it really will end and we’ll look back on it as an interesting time, where most of us are spending more time with our children than ever before. It’s a great chance to learn about what they’re learning at school and soak up the time with them while you can – before things get back to normal a little more and the world speeds up again.
How can children send you questions for your podcast?
All they need to do is ask an adult to borrow a smartphone. Then open a voice recording app, then say their name, age, a bit about themselves and ask their question, then send it into me at email@example.com.
Do check out www.everythingunderthesun.co.uk for links to listen and subscribe to the show!