Slowing. It. Down: A New Approach to Raising My Toddler

Wednesday March 4, 2015

We got back from Portland yesterday afternoon, and the three of us are completely wiped out. Aside from all the touring and hiking and eating we did, the trip gave me some time away from the stay-at-home-mom routine of my days to think through changes I’d like to see.

This started before our trip, I suppose. I had talked with Dave (and wrote about some of it here) about things I needed to stop doing, things I needed to start doing.

Parenting so far has been a series of course corrections for me, a constant feedback loop of learning who this child is and changing my own behavior towards her. I try to “follow the child” as much as I can, but then I also have my own parenting goals I’m trying to implement. Bean will always have certain goals she is trying to meet independent of me (rolling over, crawling, walking, eating with utensils); it is my job to help her achieve those goals, and more importantly, not to impede her goals for herself.

That is easier said than done. For instance, when a baby first starts to crawl, it is very hard not to pick her up and move her around the apartment as you go about your day, even though she is fully capable of moving herself. Is it time to wash her face and put her pajamas on? Pick her up and put her in the bathroom. You are so used to doing this, that the alternative (tell the crawling 7 month old to meet you in the bathroom) seems entirely outside the realm of possibility. The child can crawl; don’t get in the way of her crawling.

And then I have my own goals. When Bean was first born and having trouble with nap times, I decided to nap-train with the goal that she would eventually learn to put herself to sleep. When it was time to start solids, I had a goal of introducing a healthy relationship with food and dining. When it became clear that she loved other children and people, I feared that I’d ruin her love of people somehow by having her home all day with me, so I enrolled her in baby art classes.

So, I assume like most parents, Bean and I have these competing interests. Or, perhaps not entirely competing, but we both have interests, and they may not be the same at the same time. I may want Bean to learn to wash her hands after she eats a sandwich; Bean has just recalled her stuffed Bunny and has put all of her toddler will, energy, and focus in learning how to take Bunny’s dress off. As an example. Personal care vs fine motor skills, which wins out?

And so I now realize that we are at a juncture where my baby is really no longer much of a baby and is becoming a little girl. We have continued along our same daily routines even though our goals have completely shifted. That’s what I’m looking to change now.

One of the luxuries of being a stay-at-home parent is time. Without a set schedule, how we spend our days is almost entirely up to me. Sure we have tons of stuff that need to get done (faces must be washed, food must be prepared), but the order in which it happens and the amount of time each task takes is completely up to us.

I’m going to start exploiting this luxury of time, and slowing down our day so that Bean and I can both work on our goals for her.

I’m going to start up Toddler Tuesdays or some such to fill you in on my changing approaches (I have a laundry list of things that I’m going to change) and how they are working out. I have no idea if what I’m doing will work or not, but I figure what I’m currently doing is certainly not working, for either of us.

Game on, I guess.

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