This year’s Easter egg hunt revealed more about the parents than it did about the kids, as Emily Jade cracked down on egg welfare.

Our family Easter egg hunt this year inadvertently showcased the very different parenting styles of my relatives.

My house won the rights to host Sunday lunch and as I have a small, quiet park at the end of my street, I decided the Easter egg hunt could take place at this picturesque location. Unleashing 12 eggs-tremely keen cousins on this park made it anything but picturesque for a fast fifteen minutes of furious egg collecting, but it wasn’t the kids who were in heated and uncomfortable discussions — it was the parents, as we negotiated what would be a fair hunt.

Millie is only three and until this year was pretty much petrified of the big old Easter Bunny, so it was my first time as a parent orchestrating an egg hunt, and I had no idea there were rules to this magical moment. As the parents and kids descended on the park, talk turned to hunt rules and making the collection fair, and I started to wonder if it was an AFL game I was about to referee.

Suggestions came thick and fast and all seemed reasonable, but for some reason didn’t sit comfortably with me. Suggestions like:

  • Big kids have a five minute handicap before they can start so that the smaller children have a chance before the older ones, with more searching skills, swoop.
  • Each big kid must be partnered up with a smaller one so they can search together and share.
  • Create a base. Each child must return to it once they have collected five eggs, stay until all the kids have returned, and then set out again.
  • It doesn’t matter how many eggs you collect, at the end they will all be shared out evenly anyway.

Whilst I understood the motivation for no child to miss out and to learn the art of sharing, mean old me decided as the umpire of the egg hunt that I didn’t want to create an egg welfare system. It was going to be a free-for-all and whoever had the most won. My reasoning? That’s life!

There will always be someone bigger, faster, and better, and this hunt could be a lesson in life for our offspring. Not only that, but big kids eat more chocolate and each child would naturally collect the amount appropriate for their consumption size. I didn’t want Millie eating her body weight in chocolate and then dealing with the toddler sugar high and nightmarish low.

My egg hunt style revealed that I fall in the category of parent that hates putting a gift in every wrapping of pass the parcel, not keeping the score in a five-year-old’s soccer match, and seeing kids get certificates of participation when they came dead last.

I wanted to arm my child with the reality of life, to learn resilience, to be happy with what they have or work harder next time. Other parents in my group wanted to hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’… or, to put it more charitably, they wanted to teach the art of sharing and learning to be fair.

At the end of the day we all agreed that both were important lessons to learn but it was what unfolded during that egg hunt that surprised and delighted us all. With no rules in place at all, the kids went hell for leather — but the big kids stopped and helped, and all of them shared at the end anyway.

Sometimes we just don’t give our kids enough credit. We should.