Over the summer I came across a blog post from parent blogger Jo Goddard (acupofjo.com) on the topic of Slow Parenting. It wasn’t something I’d heard of really but I was intrigued. Only 10 months in to ‘being a parent’ I know that I don’t subscribe to religiously following any type of parenting methodology. But I do think that help and guidance can be lifted from most things. Jo’s post certain struck a chord with me.
By the age of 5 months, H was doing 3 classes a week, on top of any ‘mummy-baby’ meet-ups we had scheduled in. Admittedly many of these were also for my benefit so that I could get out the house, but even to this day it does sometimes mean I am trying to ‘encourage’ her to nap or feed in order to accommodate an activity.
One of the activities I was keen H to do was swimming. I really liked the idea of her learning to be comfortable in the water from a young age. For the first 7 weeks of the 11 week term she was reasonably fine with it. Then she started to get upset with her underwater swims. Then she would get upset just being in a normal swimming position. Swimming can be a lot for a baby so I hoped she’d be happier again after the summer break. But no. After 3 weeks of her crying the moment we got in the pool, we swapped classes. After one week of the new class I decided I’d had enough. The classes weren’t cheap but we haven’t been to any since. It was too stressful for both of us.
From a young age, babies and children have a lot going on. Sometimes they don’t need activities forced upon them; They just need things to explore and play with. Whilst the articles I have read about Slow Parenting mainly refer to children of 2+ years of age, over the summer I really started to feel it applied just as much to babies. A quotation mentioned in another blog post I found summed it up well for me:
“In early development, kids are still wiring. They need to have moments of doing and moments of being for integration to happen. If they don’t take space for integration, that leads to meltdowns and overtiredness.”Carrie Contey, cofounder of Slow Family Living
Knowing my daughter as I do, I know that she needs a couple of days in a week where we take things easy, where she can play without time constraint. As if to remind me, last week we were meeting friends, at classes or hosting visitors on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Coupled with an immunisation jab on Saturday, plus dealing with some cutting teeth, by Saturday night she was drained and slept terribly. On Sunday she was exhausted and by yesterday morning she was visibly a bit run-down.
So we stayed at home and played. We went for a walk. We listened to music and watched some telly whilst eating snacks. Today we plan to do the same. Because nothing needs doing that urgently and in less than two months we’ll have enough routine thrust upon us when I go back to work.
I will take this knowledge forward in to H’s second year. After worrying about what classes we would do on my non-working days, I realised recently that she would be getting plenty of stimulation and play at nursery. So those two precious days a week when it will be just us can be used for doing what we like. And in reality those days will be as educational for her as any ‘structured’ learning.