Our generation parents a lot differently than the generation before us. Yes, we’ve learned a lot about toddler development in the last few years. We know more about screen time and more activities to help our toddlers prepare for the school years. More about the “right” foods to feed them, books to read to them, lessons to teach them.
But, one thing I think our generation sometimes gets wrong, is the fact that we think we have to constantly entertain our children. We try to make everything a learning experience. We’re forever researching activities for them.
“How young is too young for sports?”
Should she be doing a letter recognition activity instead of coloring? Should I be reading to him instead of doing something for myself?
Maybe I should plan out preschool activities for every day?
“”Little Timmy’s” mom has him do school prep activities every morning, they sing and dance, and then make a healthy snack of fresh veggies.”
“Am I screwing up my kid by not planning out his day, and making sure I spend all of my time preparing him for kindergarten?”
The answer is no.
I’ve found that my toddler behaves better, learns quicker, and listens more intently when I give him time to himself. Most days after breakfast, I tell him, “Mommy’s going to get some work done.” And I send him to his room to play.
He has toys in there, books to read, and plenty of options to choose from. He can do puzzles or build blocks, play cars, or pirates.
He makes the decision on what he gets to do. He takes control of what toys he plays with. And if he keeps yelling for me, I explain that this is his time, and that he can play with whatever he wants.
During this time, I’ve heard him do the cutest things. I can hear him talking to his toys, and using his imagination. Without me taking over and directing him how to play, as we as parents often do, his possibilities are limitless.
We DO NOT have to entertain our children every second of every day! We need to give them the opportunity to be in control. Give them a safe environment, and step away. Let them play. Let them be little.
And this time that he has to himself is sometimes a sanity saver for me, because I can get some things done that I need to get done.
This DOES NOT make you a bad parent!
I have spent a lot of time with older kids who have NO IDEA how to entertain themselves. Without someone telling them what to do, or without the aid of television or video games to entertain them, they are completely lost as to what they should be doing.
It makes me sad, because when I was a kid, we could go outside and entertain ourselves for hours.
So, I am reminding myself, it’s okay. To not be overbearing and over schedule my child. To remember that he needs time to himself just as much as mommy does.
We will both me more sane because of it.
Do you give your child “alone time”?