When my kids could first sit up and graduated from tummy time to being able to PLAY it was an exciting milestone.
In an effort to be PRESENT in their lives, I thought I should always be sitting down with them on the floor, giving them ALL of my ATTENTION.
And logistically I wasn’t sure how to get ANYTHING ELSE done while they were awake.
Then I would spend nap time frantically trying to get the next meal prepped and plated, the laundry switched and folded and the house semi-cleaned up.
I learned much later that sitting down to play with your little one is just ONE aspect of being fully present in your child’s life.
After some research, a toddler class with my children and lots of practice on the logistical front, I’ve learned a better approach.
If I’m fully present in my work, my kids will be fully present in their work – PLAY.
Children really only learn through IMITATION & DOING, focusing on movement and physical activities. What they often imitate is your level of presence.
If I am calmly and peacefully completing normal day to day tasks, immersing myself in my work, my children often imitate that behavior by immersing themselves more deeply in play.
This is when you get the REAL gift.
You actually get to witness moments of intense concentration from your toddler – he may be working extra hard to drive that dump truck over the arm of the couch or she may be thoughtfully setting up stuffed animals for a tea party.
Those beautiful moments of wonder and excitement on your child’s face are happening right in front of you.
I often alternate short periods of completing routine tasks like making lunch while my kids have unstructured playtime with periods of group activities like reading, singing and walking – at their pace.
I never knew that singing and doing the motions to ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM could provide so many hours of entertainment. 😊
Yet this doesn’t mean there isn’t any chaos in our house.
My kids still get in fights. My kids still disobey instructions. My kids still get fussy and whiney.
Just like everyone else’s kids. Just not as often as they used to.
I still crave alone time. I still get frustrated. I still raise my voice.
Just like every other mom. Just not as often as I used to.
The overall tone and energy of our home just FEELS BETTER.
Sometimes the boys want to help and household chores are completed together at a much SLOWER pace.
And that pace is okay because they are learning and because I now have nap time free!
I love taking this more integrated approach to providing SECURITY, LOVE and LEARNING.
And the results are more enjoyable for all of us.
My kids are growing by doing, working on their sensory-motor skills, learning healthy habits of doing and developing their brains through imaginative play.
I am enjoying the slower pace and am able to watch my kids discover the world, and of course I love the freedom during nap time.
Help your kids learn healthy habits of doing.
Don’t save it all for nap time.