All children are different. Even my children are different. So figuring out and satisfying their individual needs really is a question of observing, analyzing, adjusting, modifying, experimenting, and occasionally just going with the flow.
So yeah, sometimes parenting really makes me feel extremely exhausted and lost even to the point where I just want to throw in the towel and run away from it all. Honestly, that used to be my solution to any sort of problem back in the day.
Now, giving up is just not an option. This is it. This is my life. And I just have to deal with it. And I try my best…
Lately, we have realized that the girls, especially Abby, have been somehow under stimulated with our daily routine.
It has come to show by a rising number of conflicts between the girls or with us, concentration difficulty, less in-depth play, less imaginary play, more destructive behaviour, and all-in-all less laughter and more whinging.
To try to deal with these challenges that we are facing, we have made some minor but efficient adjustments to our routine and to our surroundings.
LESS STUFF, MORE PLAY
First of all, we have tried to get rid of a lot of stuff and make our home a tiny bit more minimalistic. It might sound a bit irrelevant when it comes to the girls’ stimulation and wellbeing, however, it actually works for us. Somehow having a tidy home with less clutter and even less toys to chose from has made it easier for the girls to concentrate on playing with the toys they do have.
Another benefit of having less stuff is that our house is generally less messy than it used to be, which definitely helps to reduce stress for all of us. And even the girls are now helping tidying up every(other) night. It’s highly recommendable to get rid of the clutter.
THAT DAYUM SCREEN-TIME
Second of all, we are doing our best to cut down on screen-time. We are not fanatics when it comes to screen-time limits, but we have noticed that the number of conflicts are much higher when the TV is on for longer periods of time. So for us there is no doubt that too much screen-time has negative consequences for our children. I am still very guilty of putting the TV on whenever I need some time to make breakfast, lunch or dinner – or when I just need a little break from the craziness of having kids – but I am slowly getting better at turning it off again too.
GETTING OUR ADVENTURE ON
Third, and quite importantly, I am trying my best to get out of the house (and the garden) with the girls every day. Preferably to spend time outside where the girls can be physically active. It can be a trip to the beach or the skatepark, a bush walk or even just a bike ride to the local playground. The most important thing is that they get some fresh air, that they get to explore new, exciting places and first and foremost, that they get to use and challenge their bodies in a healthy and fun way.
Abby has always been very physically advanced and she is simply a happier child when she gets to move freely, so it only makes sense to get out there and get active. Besides, Billie has had a little bit of difficulties with her balance and general physical development, so making sure that we challenge her every day greatly supports her development and lately it has really paid off. Her balance is improving, she is getting a lot more confident with her movements and she even climbs things now. Our little trooper.
On days where we have been out and about the girls play so much better when we get back home and they sleep so much better when they go to bed. Even I get more energy in the long run. It really is a no-brainer that it’s good for everyone – I just have to get a little bit better at organizing snacks, lunch, drinks, naptime and bla bla bla, so we can go on more and better adventures in the future.
LET THE KIDS
The last thing, that we have actively taken a decision to go along with, might be a little bit controversial, because we are actually giving our two, young children a lot of freedom to roam. Both the girls have very free range to play and explore in our house and in our garden – without our participation or involvement. Of course we keep an eye and two ears out for them, but we also give them privacy and room and time to just do their own thing.
Billie is getting quite good at focusing on one activity for longer periods of time and it really has made Abby’s creativity flourish. The amount of things that she has created so far is seriously incredible. She’s such a problem solver and a creative soul. To give her free range to create, explore and build is one of the best decisions we have made for her lately. And basically we haven’t done anything, really. On the contrary.
MORE LAUGHTER, LESS GUILT
So, have these little adjustments made our family all happy clappy? No, definitely not. We still have our conflicts and our challenges, like any other normal family, I guess. However, the overall mood in our home is better than it was a couple of weeks ago and no doubt it’s a work-in-progress – but very importantly, simply just addressing the matter instead of letting it grow bigger has reduced my parent guilt and made me less inclined to give up and more inclined to keep on keeping on.
I’ve got this!