The results are in! Based on the many responses from last week’s post, the top three wishes are:
- more time with our children
- for our children to spend more time playing independently
- less screen time
I can certainly relate to all three of them. So, let’s see what we can do about that.
More time with our children
We all only have 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Can’t change anything there. But what we can change is how we use that time.
Our days are filled with what I call little moments.
Imagine you are running on a path and along the side are little blue “Forget-Me-Not’s growing. You can’t see them because you are running fast to reach your destination. If you were walking, you would most likely notice them. Maybe even stop to admire them.
Our busy lives are like running along that path. We run right past those little moments and barely notice them because we are rushing to get to the next thing. And let me tell you, those little moments can make all the difference in our children’s lives and our lives.
I used to be one of those fast runners, always trying to get everything done on my to-do list. Now, things are different. I slow down. I stop. I take the time to savor those moments.
What does that look like?
Hug. Chat. Tell a joke. Sing a song. Tell a story. Be silly. Dance. Look up at the sky. Turn over a rock. Smell the flowers (literally!).
Now, imagine a day filled with 5 or even 10 or 15 of those little moments. Imagine how your child feels at the end of the day. Making that connection with our children is one of the most important things we can do. You can read all the parenting advice in the world and try to implement it. But it will likely feel like climbing a mountain if you don’t create that connection first and take advantage of those little moments. The ROI (return on investment) on them is exponential.
AND it will start you feel like you truly do have more time with your children even though, the number of hours hasn’t changed.
More Independent Play
Independent play, just like anything else in life, is something a child needs to learn. A child that is used to TV, you playing with them and being entertained by toys that light up and make sounds, needs our help. Independent play doesn’t magically happen overnight at a certain age. It’s not a milestone.
Helping your child with independent play does require some of your time and energy in the beginning but once a child gets started they catch on pretty quickly.
The best starting point is always a story. It’s a challenge for anybody to start with a blank slate. So, giving your child something to build on is the fastest way to develop this important skill.
You can either start with a story book or tell your child a story. And then think about how you can extend the story. Here are some examples:
- build a cave out of blocks for the bear in the story
- draw a picture about the story
- make the pancakes from the story out of play dough
- go outside and look for all the colorful leaves you read about
As soon as children make the connection and realize that they can bring the world around them into their play, they no longer need you to entertain them. And I think it goes without saying that we can’t expect a child to play independently for hours on end. This only works when we have taken the time to connect with them first.
Now, some children are already very good at independent play but their energy level gets away from them. Again, in those situations, use the power of a story to redirect and focus them on a calmer activity. OR send them outside to run it off. Sometimes, they just need to get it out.
If you’re struggling with screen time, this exact same approach works. Screen time is a habit that needs to be replaced with something else.
Start with small increments of time and build on that. And be sure to reconnect with your child at the end of their independent play. You showing interest into what they have done is the best reward and motivates a child to do it again.
Practice, Practice, Practice
We encourage our children to practice when they are learning something new, right? Well, we need to give ourselves the time to practice as well. Not all of us can whip up a story at the drop of a hat or come up with an activity to keep our children occupied while we are trying to cook dinner.
While I consider myself fairly creative, I’m not the spontaneous kind. I need to be in my zone. But guess what? I have been getting better because I have been practicing. Nowadays, I can come up with a story at a moments notice. I can turn any request into a tune. Getting ready for bed or getting dressed is sometimes quite the musical show, though badly out of tune. But my kids don’t care. We have a blast and EVERYTHING runs smoother.
So, if your creative juices aren’t flowing or you’re too tired and exhausted to embrace those little moments (they do take some patience and energy) or come up with activities, let me reassure you that it gets easier…and it happens pretty fast.
Now, for those of you that would like some help with storytelling and fostering your child’s independent play, I have the October pack of our Sophie & Max series ready for you. Yes, all the stories and activities are perfect for creating those special little moments and connections with your child while also nourishing their imagination and creativity.
Check out the October pack now and join the many moms that have already shared the previous versions of Sophie & Max with their children.
At only $5.95 it’s a small investment with exponential benefits. And remember, you will receive all the stories and activities I will add to next year’s October pack for FREE. My gift to you!
Get your copy today because they will only be available until next Sunday!
Savor those little moments!
P.S. I have loved receiving all your e-mails and comments over the past couple of weeks. And apologies to those of you that haven’t received a reply, yet. I haven’t forgotten about. And know that you can always send me a message to just say “hi” or if you have a question.