Thursday, February 2, 2012

Time Well Wasted

I stole the title of this blog from a country song. (Don't judge me. Yes, I like country music. I can't help it. As one country song says, "These are my people. This is where I come from." While I don't listen to it much anymore, I still enjoy it now and then!) The chorus of the song goes like this:

"It was time well wasted.
And there's no way I'd trade
a few more things that I could have crossed off my list, for a day I'll never forget. No, I didn't get a thing done, but I sure soaked up every minute of the memory we were making. And, I count it all as time well wasted."

(In case you are wondering, no, I didn't know this from memory. I had to look it up on YouTube!)

Elsie and I wasting some time outside yesterday!

As I've continued to skim through my books on child development, I have again been reminded of the importance of time. As a new mom, one of the most common pieces of advice I have heard from those with more experience has gone something like, "Don't worry about getting things done. Just enjoy time with your little ones! They grow so fast... "You have heard it, I'm sure.

Lining up the gravel neatly along the rail, one handful at a time.

It can be hard. One of the biggest adjustments in my first months of mommyhood involved the difficulty of just sitting, for hours, nursing or holding the baby. Sure, I knew I was supposed to be enjoying it, but, to be honest, it got old. I used to say I didn't know it was possible to be so BORED while being so BUSY! I wanted to be doing at least a few other things. I tried to remember to enjoy it, but I frequently failed!

It doesn't help that I tend to be a pretty productivity-driven person. I am always stressing myself out because I am always thinking of things I SHOULD be doing. I am learning that being a stay-at-home mom is not always very conducive to making one feel productive! I think I've gotten better at letting things go, but I still struggle with it pretty often (ok, daily!). Now that my daughter is no longer an infant, and is more interactive, those 'just sitting' times are a bit more fun than they used to be. That helps, but I hope that, next time, I will be more able to 'just sit' with my infant and enjoy it!

Getting dirty is a great time waster!

Go waste some time with your kids. Play games. Go outside and get dirty. Enjoy just sitting and chatting with them (if they are old enough. I can't do much of that yet!). Take them for walks and talk to them about the bushes and trees and squirrels and sky. Make faces at them and wrestle with them and throw them in the air (this morning, I borrowed the theme of the children's book "Pete's a Pizza" to roll Elsie around on the floor and make her into a pizza. She thought that was pretty fun!).

"Wasting" time is essential when you are a mom. The thing is, the time needs to be quality! Wasting time surfing the web, puttering around on facebook, texting, calling, doing whatever it is people do on their smart-phones...These things really ARE time wasters. I am not talking about doing more of this. These things can be surprisingly addictive and we have to be careful to avoid overdoing them. Instead, we need to be playing on the floor, sitting and babbling to our babies, building block towers, going for walks (this one is pretty easy for me, especially on a sunny day. I absolutely LOVE being outside!) inventing games, talking, and making faces.

I'll quote a few professionals to back me up. (Don't worry, the 'professionals' are not country singers this time!). Dr. Jill Stamm, the founder of New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development, says in her book "Bright from the Start",

Spending time sharing your delight in just being with your child is perceived by him as the magical combination of a twinkle in your eye, a smile on your face, and a lilt in your voice, which together speaks volumes about how important little Charlie or Marissa is to you. This natural message system of the combined impact of eyes, smiles, and voice tones are the beginning of the development of an effective attention system in the brain (attention), solid social and emotional health (bonding), and the development of language (communication).

In "The Irreducible Needs of Children", Doctors Greenspan and Brazelton say:

At a minimum, there should be four 20-minute or longer opportunities for direct interaction [
per day] simply because these kids of interactions help babies learn to have an emotional dialogue and eventually an intellectual dialogue with their caregivers over longer stretches in time...These parameters are not intended to suggest that the time be broken up into neat intervals...Often, as with babies and toddlers, there will be a seamless back and forth...The reason why it is optimal to protect some 20-minute or longer intervals for direct, joyful that these times create a special closeness and intimacy with parents. The relaxed informality allows for the sharing of ideas.

Climbing on rocks in the sunshine is another
highly recommended time waster!

It can be easy to be distracted by phones and computers and books, or by housework and bills.
Sometimes we look for things that will stimulate our own minds and forget that although goofy games may not be very stimulating for us, they are stimulating for our little ones!

Try, with me, to remember that it really is true that other things can usually wait and letting our little ones know we are there and available and enjoy being with them is most definitely...

Time Well Wasted!

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