Working toward a balance of needs

  • Don't interrupt your child. Avoid unnecessary interruptions when children become involved in creative, self-directed play. Be as flexible as you can when you need to interrupt: "I need some help feeding the cat. Is now a good time or would you like to do it after dinner?" Also, give warnings about transitions: "In five minutes it's going to be time for all the trains to go back to the station."
  • Create an environment that supports creative play. Provide age appropriate, open-ended materials for children's use. Examples include paper, markers, scissors, tape, empty cereal boxes, scraps of material, big refrigerator boxes, small blankets, blocks, sand, water, and dirt. If possible, provide some space that can get messy -- a back porch, a corner of the kitchen, a dirt area out back. Children's creative play isn't usually a neat or tidy activity.
  • Slow down, you're moving too fast. Children learn a lot by watching how we live. When kids see us coming home stressed and preoccupied, day after day, they learn that life doesn't feel very good, that being a grownup is a grind. So part of the slowing down has to start with us. And it's possible to begin those changes in small, daily ways.
  • Waste a little time with your child today. When you decide to slow down with your children, you join your child is discovering imagination, spontaneity, fun, and resourcefulness. You get to re-experience simple pleasures: noticing a rainbow, taking a nap, whipping up a batch of brownies, designing a treasure hunt, going for a leisurely stroll. Anyone can do it. You don't have to be an at-home parent to slip a little spontaneity and magic into your moments with your kids. You can be a busy parent and still relax fully and robustly. It doesn't take all day to waste a little bit of time.
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