Take time out to meet baby’s needs
One of the most common messages parents take on board who come to our parent infant/ toddler classes is to slow down. The babies and toddlers love it too because they get to have their Mum or Dad’s complete attention for a while. This is a real gift to the child.
Have you ever noticed how much and how often a baby or toddler looks to their parent? It is many times a day and when their parent is looking back at the same time we can see the child’s obvious delight.
‘‘I see you’’ is something our babies and toddlers love to hear. They also love to bring things they collect or find back to their parent to notice and enjoy with them. Coming back to their parent way the pace of ‘‘life in the fast lane’’ seems to be increasing. Infant specialist Magda Gerber says: ‘‘In our society we are trained to do, do, do. And if you don’t, you must act as if you are very busy, because being busy is virtuous.’’ She adds that, ‘‘the more we do, the busier we are, and the less we really pay attention’’. I agree because I was raised to feel that being busy was virtuous.
Helping parents to experience the benefits of slowing down and giving their child their full attention at times, has taught me as much as it has taught them. I get a real buzz and learn so much when I hear how they develop unique strategies that work for their families.
Although it isn’t easy to slow down it can be done, as some of our parents have been discovering. One mum finds now that when things start ‘‘turning to custard’’ at home with her three under-5 year olds, she realises it’s often because she has been in busy, busy mode. To get things back on an even keel she applies her own strategy called ‘‘slow down and sit down’’. Instantly the kids come in for conversation, cuddles, rough and tumble and/or play and the stress levels and atmosphere improve. She clears her mind to give them her attentive presence and doesn’t worry about dinner or think about tomorrow. She stops and gives the kids her focus, listens and talks with them and genuinely takes an interest in them.
She says: ‘‘It fills them up emotionally and it doesn’t take all that long.’’ She’s happier, the children are happier and the household returns to normal quicker than it used to.
Another mum found she was spending any spare time she got while her baby was asleep racing around doing housework. Her four-year-old often watched TV so she could clean. When she realised that she was caught in the ‘‘busy trap’’ she decided to have one relaxing day at home a week to just be together and play together with her children. Chores and TV were banned that day. She looks back now and says it was one of the best things she has done for herself and for her family. She is a more relaxed person and mother and has more fun with her kids. That’s got to be a good thing.
And what about working parents? I was talking to a mum yesterday who has to go back to work very soon. Because she understands more now about the vital importance of the early years she has with her baby, she is adamant she doesn’t want to spend her weekends occupied with chores that will cut into the precious time they can spend together. She has decided to pay someone to do her cleaning during the week so she can slow down, relax and have time for her baby and partner when she’s not working.
When our parents grasp just how important they are to their child they come up with all sorts of ways to really BE WITH them, many of which start with slowing down.
SLOW DOWN: South Waikato News parenting columnist, Fran Thompson-stevens says toddlers and infants enjoy it when parents slow down.