Raising children as a village effort
May 25, 2017
By Chantelle Scruggs
To mark the Global Day of Parents, the Wycliffe blog invited Chantelle Scruggs to write for us about what it's been like for her and her husband Lane - Wycliffe's residence don - to parent here. Chantelle and Lane, together with their three little ones are pictured at left. The children are, from left, Elise (11 months), Hudson (5) and Cadence (3).
We arrived at Wycliffe as a married couple with no kids, with plans to be here for two years, during which Lane would complete his MTS program. So family life in Toronto and at Wycliffe wasn’t really on our radar. Three kids later and nearing the end of the ThD, things have changed!
Neither of our families live nearby, which has been difficult, but we have found Wycliffe to be such a supportive community, particularly for a family with young children. So many of the students, residents, faculty and staff genuinely appreciate having children in the community, and find ways to be welcoming and helpful. From friendly greetings and high fives in the hallway, office visits, weekly Chapel (with childcare) and community supper, play group, fall festivals with kids’ activities, a fenced-in playground, and our very own private “hockey court” (tennis court) for the kids, the list goes on and on.
We have had the unique blessing of living in one of the few family apartments at Wycliffe. Although of course there are challenges that go along with tight quarters and living within a diverse community, we wouldn’t trade these years at Wycliffe for anything. Living here has given us so much “bonus time” together as a family (like coming home for lunch between classes). We’ve enjoyed being part of the “apartment dweller” community (potlucks, games nights, looking after each other’s kids), and it has allowed all of us to be extremely involved at Wycliffe.
Raising young kids in this area has made us aware of how many resources are at our finger tips. Wycliffe and the University of Toronto are a fairly quiet pocket within a busy downtown. Everything we need is within walking distance; we simply pop the kids into a stroller and go, and get exercise while running errands rather than worrying about strapping them into car seats and dealing with traffic. The kids have taken music lessons at the Royal Conservatory just up Philosopher’s Walk. They’ve participated in swimming lessons and other programs at the U of T Athletic Centre down the street. The public library is nearby and Nathan Phillips Square is our spot for both skating in the winter and the Farmer’s Market in the summer. Even our doctor is a mere 10 minute walk away. We have lasting memories of biking down to Blue Jays games, walking through the beautiful campus, taking the kids to tee ball in the bike trailer, enjoying a picnic supper in one of the many parks nearby, or hearing bagpipes and heading outside to find a random parade going right by our building.
Parenting is hard. Parenting without an extended family in the vicinity is harder yet. But communities like Wycliffe that intentionally incorporate families, make raising children a village-effort, and that is a huge blessing to parents like us.
Chantelle Scruggs is a homemaker, looking after three young kids. She also assists her husband Lane with the Residence Don work, has planned and hosted the Wycliffe Play Group for the last five years, and enjoys auditing Wycliffe classes.