Thursday, August 2, 2012

Growing Grateful Kids Part 3: Take Time to Play

Take Time to Play was one of my favorite chapters from the Growing Grateful Kids:  Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places, and although I read this particular chapter many weeks ago, the things I learned have been popping up in my thoughts over the last few days.  Take Time to Play is Chapter 4.  If you are interested in my thoughts on Chapter 1, Being Thankful, you can find them here and my thoughts on Chapter 2, Refusing Worry, you can find them here.  I skipped Chapter 3 but it was great too so I may come back to it eventually...Chapter 4 just seems to fit into my life perfectly right now.

It mainly started the other day when I was washing dishes and Kellan was playing with his toys on the other side of the room.  In just a few moments I could hear him scooting across the floor and in no time he poked his little head around the corner, did his little army crawl over to me and sat down at my feet.  Then he proceeded to whine, cry, and fuss all while I'm trying to avoid stepping on him as he was literally under my feet.  The whole time I'm constantly talking to him, "OK buddy, mommy has 4 more dishes to wash...3 more dishes...2 more dishes...almost done!"  He was not comforted.  He fussed and whimpered the entire time.  By the time I was done he had started entertaining himself with a dish cloth that he had pulled off of a drawer handle so I thought hmm...maybe I can dust the living room while he is occupied.  As soon as I walked out of the room to grab a dust cloth he starts crying again and scooting after me as fast as his little arms and legs can go.  The whole time I'm thinking "Good grief!  What is wrong with him?  Why is he so fussy lately?"  I sat down beside him and he instantly smiled and scooted over to me.  There was nothing wrong with him other than he wanted a little attention and for his mommy to play with him.

Now, I know I am home with Kellan everyday but I can honestly say he is not spoiled.  When he wakes up during the night, he cries it out until he goes back to sleep.  When he wakes up from a nap I let him talk to himself and sometimes even fuss a little bit before I go in his room to get him up.  When I take a shower and he has to play with his toys in his Pack N' Play, sometimes he just has to cry.  Trust me this little boy gets plenty of hugs and kisses and snuggles from me, but I don't run to him every time he whimpers or fusses.  But lately I have to admit he has been doing too much playing independently, fussing and trying to follow me around while I try to get things done around the house. 

I know that I cannot sit and play with him all day but I need to work on creating a schedule that balances Kellan time, Household job time, and Mommy time.  Ever since Kellan has been able to play independently I feel like I have been pushing my luck a little more and a little more trying to get as much done as I can.  It feels like the day is a blur of washing dishes, making Kellan's breakfast, my breakfast, washing clothes, putting him down for a nap, picking up toys and anything else scattered around the house, folding clothes and putting them away, dusting, feeding Kellan lunch, making my lunch, vacuuming, afternoon nap, cleaning bathrooms, getting dinner started....not to mention all of the preparation that goes into making and freezing Kellan's baby food.  Now of course I'm not doing all of those things every single day but it seems like our daily routine has turned into hoping Kellan can entertain himself long enough for me to get household tasks done. I love to read but that never happens during the day.  If I get to do it at all, its right before I finally go to bed at night.  The same goes for blogging, that always happens after Kellan has gone to bed.  

I've lost sight of the whole reason that I wanted to have the opportunity to stay home with him.  I wanted to be the one that has the time to play with him during the day, read to him, and witness his milestones and "firsts."  Kellan is only 9 months old but I don't want to look back one day and wonder where all the time with my baby went.  I need to slow down and focus on what is important because his childhood is time I can't get back.  Years from now I won't remember how clean my house was but I will remember the first time Kellan clapped, how everytime I read Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed he giggles when I get to "The doctor said, NO MORE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED!"  part, and how much he loves when I get down on the floor and play with him.  Right now Kellan doesn't understand that the dishes need to be washed, he just wants someone to sit down and throw his ball to him, stack his blocks for him to knock down, and read his books to him.  This is the reason that Susie Larson's quotes have been popping in to my head lately..."Engaging in fun times also lets our children know that they are super valuable to us.  As human beings, we put our time into the things we care about.  And so, when we make time for frivolous fun with our kids, it lets them know that we are honored and blessed to spend our gift of time with them...If we take ourselves too seriously, forget to laugh and play, and continually view life through the lens of cable news, we're missing out on some of the best parts of the Christian life." 

This week I have set 3 "Mommy Goals" for myself and I am going to make it a priority to stick to them.

1.  Every morning that the weather allows, I am taking Kellan outside to swing.

Even if we have to go in our PJ's!

2.  No matter how much housework needs to be done, I am going to alternate taking time to play with Kellan and completing a household task.  Kellan does need time to play independently and I have to take time to get things done around the house...but we definitely need a balance of both.

3.  One thing I have been good about (and Michael too) is reading to Kellan...and it shows.  Books are his favorite "toys" at home and he pulls them out of his book basket one by one.  He will pull out a book, roll over onto his back and look at it while trying to turn the pages.  Lately he has been starting to sit up and turn the pages of his board books.  After he looks at one book for a while he will crawl over and pull out another.  He loves to be read to and I want to keep this up by reading to him AT LEAST 3 times a day (before his morning nap, before his afternoon nap, and before bedtime).

These goals seem kind of simple but I want them to be do-able so that I will stick to them.  In the future, and as Kellan gets older, I can add more specific "Kellan time" activities to our schedule.  I want to make the most of this wonderful time I have to spend with him everyday and I don't want to take one minute of it for granted.

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