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Children, Parenting and Sleep

Are we the teachers or the students?

This past Christmas my sister gave me a daily desk calendar for Women Who Do Too Much.

Ugh…do I really fall into that category?

This day and age don’t we ALL?abc laptop

I liked this quote.

Sometimes we are caught in the unrealistic belief that our sole responsibility to our children is to teach them. We forget that we have an equal responsibility to learn from them.

Remember – parents are notoriously slow learners.

OK I fall into THAT category for sure.

I have always (reluctantly) admitted of myself that I am a quick study but a slow learner.

I love to read, study and learn. I devour information and have a strong desire to incorporate many of the new ideas and concepts presented to me as I hunt and gather in my areas of interest.

However, in my (unfortunate) experience, to get it conceptually is VERY different than fully understanding it, digesting it and assimilating it into my being.

Quite often my head feels miles away from my body, heart and soul. As if any part of me can really be separate, but my head tells me it is and I have a bad habit of listening to my head.

I just wanted to share with you some things I have learned about the adult brain, the importance of routine and what we choose to do within our routine.

  • Grown ups accomplish more and feel less stress when WE incorporate a daily routine or schedule and stick to it. This time of year as we prepare to get back into routine notice how it makes you feel. We do this for our children and yet we thrive from ritual and routine ourselves. I hear so many moms sighing that sigh of “summer is over” relief and commenting on how good it feels to get back into a schedule.
  • Transitions are a challenge. We observe our little ones and how much time it takes to transition from one activity to the next. Did you know that transitions are hard for most of us? When we factor in transition time from one activity or appointment to the next, in general we grossly underestimate the actual time it takes just to transition ourselves from one place to another and re-engage in a new activity. Give yourself extra time for transitions. We do it for our children and we can be as generous with ourselves.
  • Make time for down time.  I call it “no agenda” time. Magda Gerber called it “wants nothing quality time”. Don’t forget to schedule in time for doing nothing. Or doing only what feels nourishing and if that is zoning out and contemplating your belly button…go for it. We are all highly scheduled and there has been a LOT of good information lately about the over scheduled child. Are you an over-scheduled adult?
  • Make time for free play. This is play that is just for the sake of play. No rules, no agenda, no order to it…just pure and simple play. For adults this is also referred to as “flow time”. This flow time often happens when we are engaged in an activity and we lose sense of time. We look up and say…WOW three hours went by?…that felt like 20 minutes.


Children Live in the MomentOne of the many gifts our children can offer us is a sense of being fully immersed in the moment with wonder and playfulness. I recently read a fascinating book on the study of play by Stuart Brown, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul . I think we can all use a refresher course on remaining playful as we grow up. Animals that play longer live longer and are more adaptable to a variety of environments. Play is an authentic need for EVERY human and our children are masters of play.

Here is a fun practice…Let your child play with you

  • Instead of playing with your child let your child play with you.
  • Let your child initiate and direct the play.
  • Practice NOT asking too many questions OR providing too many answers to their questions. With the immediacy of information and answers these days it is refreshing to remain in the wonder and allow the question to hang out there WITHOUT an immediate answer. Being open and curious is a quality that is worth nurturing and reengaging with and THEY (children) are better at it than we are.
  • Children can surprise us with what they come up with all on their own. They have their own wisdom. When we remain open and curious in their presence we realize that we are walking amongst the sages of the earth. Sounds a bit overly precious? I know…to me as well. But I do believe this, they are more in touch with the purity of truth. We are more in touch with the story we are constantly making up, as we explain what we perceive to be the truth. Actually I just made that up and have no idea if there is any truth in it at all. However, it often seems true to my experience.

Our children come into this world knowing how to get their basic needs met
in regards to sleep and play. According to Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul these two activities are interrelated in the brain.

As we provide the space and the environment for this to take place, remember to provide it for yourself as well.

What have you learned from your child about sleep?

What have you learned from your child about play?

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