Reflective Parenting: Allowing them to lead! No, Encouraging it!
I was recently taught by my super ripped friend some exercises that I can do while taking my youngest to a traditional playground. I was excited to start the process of strengthening and toning my muscles because three babies later, my muscles are close to being non existent. My strength and durability was something I once prided myself on and knowing that I am done having babies I thought this is my chance. I am also well aware that my mental state is always correlated with the amount that I work out or am in nature. Perfect! To get to this park we need to walk along a stream, lined with Eucalyptus trees. One mile walk, playground for playing and bars for some calisthenics work out. My almost two year old and I began walking and since we hike a lot I expected the distance not to be an issue, I brought her push bike with us which of course, broke mid way. Her walking was taking extra long today stopping at wet grass, noticing its sparkle and feeling it, we pet every dog that passed us and of course the two horses along the path were a great attraction as we watched them eat and then walk away. I knew I had about an hour and a half until Id be carrying her and the bike. At first I felt that I was trying to rush her and make sure we got to the playground but the more I tried to rush her the more she would stop, explore and walk two more steps very, very slowly. The playworker in me made me stop and reflect. The time before she naps is usually her time. We often go where she wants to go or do what she is interested in but I wanted to have it all. I wanted to make sure she expanded energy so she would have a nice long nap but I also wanted to work out. About mid way I realized we were not going to make it to the playground and my calisthenic work out would not happen. I stopped and let her lead. We threw Eucalyptus bark into a river, she stopped to peel off bark from a tree, she sat in a pile of gravel and larger rocks, hiding small rocks under the large rocks.
At some point she observed up close the creatures under the rocks. There is a beauty and magic about letting your child discover their own way, make their own agenda and lead you. As we all know, this can not always happen and we need to be aware of that too. Sometimes our agendas, errands and daily life take precedence but if we can allow as much as possible for a time when they are in charge of their actions, play and discovery we are allowing them a world of possibilities. Just like we have our kids scheduled into after school activities that are adult led and goal oriented- make sure we schedule in time for self-directed play where they get to be in charge and are listened to.
"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering". Winnie the Pooh