7 simple, doable, low-energy tips for parents who don't love to play!

If hearing the question, “Mommy, will you play with me?” makes you feel tired, overwhelmed, guilty, or stressed, you’re not alone. Some parents enjoy playing with their children more than others, but don’t feel guilty if you’re not one of them. Meeting the basic demands of parenting and life are already a lot; being your child’s playmate can simply feel like one more thing you need to do! But first, there are three things we know from the latest research on play, relationships, and brain development. 

  1. Play is literally a prescription for a young child’s healthy brain and body. A 2018 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics states that play enhances brain structure, teaches children to pursue goals and ignore distractions, promotes healthy social interaction, and helps regulate the body’s stress response (particularly if childhood adversity is present and a child has a nurturing caregiver who plays with them.) 
  1. Children need independent play. They need the space the problem-solve and be creative and get lost in their imaginations without adult help and intervention. Independent play is healthy and necessary! It's easy to simply think of play as a time-filler or a distraction for children. But play is actually a child’s work! It’s one of the most important ways they learn about the world. Play teaches them creativity, to follow their curiosity, to problem-solve.
  1. Children also benefit from one-on-one attention from you during play, even if it’s just a few minutes. So, if play is vitally important, what is a parent or caregiver’s role in play? Let’s talk about what this can look like in real life with real parents and caregivers who have many responsibilities and perhaps lack the desire or energy to play. Here are some practical ways to work simple play into your daily life.

 

  1. Play begins at birth and happens in everyday moment.

 

When your child is born and in those first few months, think of play in terms of responsive relationships in which you interact with your infant by recognizing nonverbal cues and responding to their needs. Talk, sing, and point as much as possible. As your baby gets a little older and becomes more interested in the world around them, return their interest. “You’re looking at the ball. The ball is round.” Simple activities like playing peek-a-boo or counting toes during diaper-changing time promotes healthy brain growth and bonding with parents.  

 

It’s also important that your baby gets tummy time each day. As they are able to lift their head and look around, get down on the floor with them and place simple objects within their reach. Each stage of development—from tummy time and crawling, to walking and climbing, presents new opportunities to explore through movement and play.

 

 

  1. Follow your child’s lead.

 

You don’t have to put so much energy into play. “The trick to enjoying this child-driven quality time is to try to fade into the background a little bit, energetically speaking,” says Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist and author of Playful Parenting. Simply meet the child on his level and observe, involving yourself in a laid-back way. Your presence and attention are still there, but it’s a less draining experience for you.

 

  1. It’s okay to set a timer for a certain amount of time you’ll play.

 

Playing with your child doesn’t need to last as long as you think. You can tell them, “I’m going to set the timer for 15 minutes so we can play.” (Or 5 or 10 minutes.) You’ll be surprised at how loved and connected your child will feel, even if it’s a short amount of time.

 

  1. Stay focused during this time.

 

For the minutes you have to play, don’t pick up your phone or chase other distractions if possible. Even 10 minutes of focused one-on-one time creates quality bonding and helps your child feel valued and close to you. Focused play time can even help prevent negative, attention-seeking behavior later in the day because you’ve made “deposits” in their emotional bank.

 

  1. Play can be easier when you naturally enjoy the activity.

 

Though it’s simple and good to follow your child’s lead, it can also be fun for you as the parent or caregiver to create play moments surrounding the activities that come more naturally to you on the days when you do have the time, energy, or opportunity. Perhaps your thing is painting, crafts, Legos, sports activities, games, or being in nature. Share who you are and what you love with your child.

 

  1. Use your local library for free story time and preschool activities.

 

Most local libraries offer activities throughout the week for young children. They’re free and all you have to do is show up with your child. The rest of the work is done for you!

 

  1. Bring them into daily tasks and turn them into “play.”

 

Think about it. Young children love to pretend they’re doing household work already. They pretend to cook and bring you plastic food to taste. They pretend to buy groceries, talk on the phone, or play house. These early years are therefore a great opportunity to combine what they naturally love to do with what you need to do. Simply interact with them as you do what needs to be done. As they help you put dishes away, match socks, put the laundry away, you can turn these activities into a race, into sorting activities, games, or just a way to playfully interact.

 

Your child loves to be with you and they love to have your positive attention. The memories you make in these simple, playful moments will last a lifetime. They don’t have to be complicated or structured or take up much time; it’s simply important that you have them. It’s the togetherness that helps them feel safe, secure, connected, and loved!

 

 

 

 


Are you a parent or caregiver feeling added holiday stress? These 5 tips can help!

The holiday season can be a wonderful time for young children and for those who care for them. The festivities and traditions take on a magical quality when seen through the eyes of a child.

But as we all know, the holidays can also be a stressful time. Extra treats, later bedtimes, disruptions to normal family rhythms, financial strain, and the expectations of extended family can add to the stress. When you consider the unique challenges we face at the another unprecedented year, it’s no wonder we’re overwhelmed.

Here are 5 practical ways you can maximize love and manage stress this holiday season:

1. Stick to daily routines as much as possible. 

The "extras" of the holidays mean that your child’s daily routine will still be disrupted, and that’s okay! But it’s important to stick to routines as much as possible. Why?

Routines provide comfort and stability for your child. Knowing what to expect helps them feel secure. They are less likely to have meltdowns when the day is following its usual rhythm. As much as possible, keep mealtimes, bathtimes, bedtimes, etc. the same.

2. Build in quiet time / down time for your child and for you.

Between the hustle and bustle of work, school, extended family, childcare, parenting, housework, and constantly being on screens, our brains and bodies need a break. When you factor in all the extras of the holidays, you and your child definitely need downtime! 

Just 15-30 minutes of doing something calming and enjoyable can help you recharge. This is not a time for scrolling on a screen. Take a real break to rest, read, or sit outside. Let your child play with toys or look at books. 

3. Get outside.

Even if it’s cloudy and you have to bundle up, sunlight, fresh air, and greenspace are good for the body, mind, and emotions. Nature provides peace and perspective, and also releases serotonin. Sunlight helps Vitamin D levels rise and helps boost your mood. Being outdoors has even been shown to help with focus and concentration. Sometimes, it simply helps your mental state to get a change of scenery. 

4. Move your body and be sure your child gets plenty of movement and play.

Moving your body can help you and your child rest better and feel happier. Whether it’s stretching, yoga, going for a walk, or doing a workout online—movement boosts your body’s happiness chemicals and releases serotonin and endorphins, which help to stabilize mood and help you feel more positive about life. 

If you have a baby, be sure they’re getting enough tummy time and movement. Toddlers and preschoolers need plenty of opportunities to run, jump, climb, and play.

5. Adjust your expectations.

Holidays can be a wonderful time with family and a break from the routine, but you can also experience the weight of others’ expectations and the burdens you place on yourself to provide a perfect holiday for your children. Here are 3 things we want you to know:

  • Set boundaries. As a parent or caregiver, make decisions that are best for you and for your immediate family. If others try to make you feel guilty, remind yourself that your voice matters. Whether it's how much money to contribute toward a teacher gift or being expected to join extended family for gatherings, don't overextend yourself or your child just to make others happy. It’s hard to let people down, but you are the only one who can set the best boundaries for yourself, your child, and your family.
  • Know that less really is more. The message of our culture is often that more = better! More spending and more presents! More activities and more festivities! But “more” of these things is not best for your child and it’s not best for you, especially when “more” often creates more stress in terms of spending beyond your budget and packing more into a holiday season than is reasonable.
  • The best present is your presence. Your child needs a parent that is attentive, responsive, and calm. It’s hard to be that parent when you’re too busy, too preoccupied, and too stressed. Stress is part of life, but managing your stress—by setting boundaries and limits in all areas of life—is key to maximizing love with your child.

Palmetto Basics wishes you and yours a very happy holiday season!

 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life.

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers! And we'll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence! 


How meal time, bath time, & car time can prepare your child for math!

Believe it or not, babies are born with brains that are ready for learning numbers, patterns, sizes, shapes, and comparisons. Using everyday moments, you can help your child build a healthy brain that’s prepared for problem-solving and math.

These simple ideas—during mealtime, car time, and bath time—can help you turn everyday moments into powerful learning opportunities! 

MEAL TIME

If you have a baby who is eating cereal or table food, count each bite as you feed them with a spoon. Using a fun, sing-song voice as you count shows your baby that counting is fun! 

As your child can feed himself finger foods like Cheerios, count out a certain number and put them in a group. “Let’s count 5 Cheerios! 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5!” Counting individual items teaches your child that numbers correspond with objects.

Once your child understands that numbers represents objects, you can begin doing simple addition and subtraction. “How many chicken nuggets are on your plate? That’s right, 5. If you eat 2, how many are left?”  Or "How many carrots will you have if I give you 1 more?" They may not know the answers at first, but you can take this opportunity to point to the items and count with them. 

Have fun with patterns and shapes. Create a simple pattern such as carrot, grape, carrot, grape. Then let you child create her own patterns with finger foods. Meal time is also a great opportunity to talk about shapes! "What shape is your cracker?”

BATH TIME

Teach comparisons such a big, small, heavy and light. Having simple toys in the bathtub, such as plastic cups, is a fun way to do this. Simple conversations like these may not seem like math, but they are. 

“Which cup is big and which cup is small?”

“Pour the cup from up high. Now pour the cup from down low.”

“When you fill the cup with water, does it get heavier? When you dump the water out, does it feel lighter?

Talk about shapes, colors, and sizes of bath toys.

Use words like over, under, down, up during bathtime. “I’m going to pour the water down your back to rinse you off.” Or “Look up as I rinse your hair.”

CAR TIME

What shapes do you see? Houses, shops, signs, the wheels on a car—they all have shapes that your child can begin to recognize!

Talk about time. “It will take us about 10 minutes to get to the store.”

Count things. Traffic lights, cows and horses, red trucks, white cars, buses. Children love to count!

Ask how many? How many wheels does that truck have? How many wheels does that car have? How many wheels does that bicycle have?

 

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey: 

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents count, group, and compare with their little ones.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!

If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.  

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


10 reasons it’s important to talk with your child from the very beginning!

If you’re a parent or caregiver, have you found yourself talking to your baby as you’ve changed their diaper? Do you hear parents in the grocery story talking to their infants about what they’re buying or the things they see, even though the baby is too young to understand?

The instinct to talk, sing, and point with our babies and young children may seem silly. If you’ve been surprised to find yourself singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider while buttoning a onesie, you know what we're talking about. 

The good news is that talking, singing, and pointing with your baby or young child are actually some of the most important things you can do to build a strong and healthy brain! 

Children learn language from the moment they are born. Day by day, babies learn that sounds have meaning. Every time you talk, sing or point to what you are talking about, you provide clues to the meaning of what you are saying. Talking is teaching.

We neglect the power and significance of conversation with young children because it seems so simple. But the simplicity is what makes it so wonderful. Anyone can do this.

Researchers found that when mothers communicate with their newborns, babies learn almost 300 more words by the age of two than toddlers whose mothers rarely spoke to them.

This is why “Talking, Singing and Pointing” is one of the 5 Basics every child needs to get a great start in life. Here are 10 reasons it’s so important to talk with your child from the very beginning: 

1. You’re teaching them what communication is about, what love is about, and what relationships are about.

2. Talking to your child from a very young age is a way of constantly offering them information, and this helps them feel valued, important, and respected. 

3. Talking teaches them what conversation looks like: how to listen, how to respond, how to take turns.

4. Responding to their babbling and early forms of talking builds their confidence to express themselves with words later on.

5. The more words they hear, the more words they can use. When a child has a “language-rich” environment, they are better prepared for school and for life. Think of words as nourishment for a child’s brain!

Research shows that that “verbally engaging with babies—listening to their gurgles and coos and then responding, conversation-style—may speed up their language development more than simply talking at them or around them.”

6. Talking is more than just speaking. Pointing and singing should be used too. Pointing to what you're talking about helps to name objects for your child. When you point and sing, it also models pointing and singing for your child, which provides them with additional ways to communicate with you, even before their speaking skills are fully developed.

7. When conversation is a regular part of your relationship with your young child, it helps set the stage for the later years.

8. By asking your toddler “engaging questions,” they learn to expand their language and unpack their ideas. For example, if your child says, “There’s a doggie!” You can respond with, “Yes, that’s a doggie! What color is that doggie?” or “Why do you think that doggie has fur?”

9. Talking is an opportunity to answer the many questions your child has and helps them learn about the world. Remember, everything about the world is brand new to your young child! They ask a lot of questions because they are naturally curious and want to learn. Use their questions as an opportunity to teach them.  

10. Our words matter. They have power. Not just for healthy language development, but for emotional development. Words are an incredible way to communicate to your child how special they are, how loved they are, how valued they are. Be purposeful with your words and use them in ways that build up your child. 

  

 

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey: 

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are Talking, Singing and Pointing with their little ones.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!

If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.  

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


3 Things You Can Do TODAY to Maximize Love & Manage Stress

Why is it so important to be parents and caregivers who “maximize love?” Because  love is foundational to a child’s health and success. It’s the number one thing every child needs and deserves. Children thrive when their world seems loving, safe, and predictable, and when parents are able to respond to their child's needs with love.

For a parent to be able to maximize love, they have to learn how to manage their own stress. This means taking steps to avoid unnecessary stress and learning to cope effectively when stress is unavoidable.

Here are 3 things you can do today:

1. Have a person.

It’s so difficult for parents to maximize love and manage stress when they're running on empty and lack support. Even the most loving parent can snap under too much stress. But when a mom or dad has a friend or family member they can call, it can make all the difference.

Having support doesn’t eliminate a parent’s stress, but it does provide the support they need to cope. Having a person, or a group of people, provides perspective, love, reassurance, and maybe even tangible help.

Managing stress isn’t just about healthy coping strategies. Managing stress requires supportive relationships..

2. Take a break.

Rare is the parent of a young child who can get a full day away, much less a mom’s weekend away. Instead, it’s helpful to build in breaks throughout the day, moments that serve as a reset. A “time out” for yourself can help you find perspective. It provides space for emotions to die down or for your head to clear.

A break can look like:

  • Taking one minute to walk away and take deep breaths so that you can return to your child with more calm and less anxiety
  • A stress-relieving activity: exercise, a nap while your child rests, prayer or meditation, calling a trusted friend
  • Taking a break with your child by going to the park, taking a walk, being in nature, and simply having a change of scenery

 

3. Prioritize sleep and rest.

This doesn’t sound glamorous, but prioritizing your own sleep is crucial for your mental, emotional, relational, and physical health. In the same way that your child is more prone to tantrums, whining, and lack of perspective when they don’t get a nap or a good night of sleep, it’s hard for grown-ups to manage stress and love others well when we don’t get the rest we need.

It’s normal to need some time to yourself once your child goes to sleep, but that can easily turn into staying up too late watching TV or scrolling through social media. Don’t let screens rob you of what you really need for renewal: sleep. 

For one week, try choosing an earlier bedtime over mindless scrolling or watching and see if you feel like a better, more rested version of yourself. : )

Sleep equals sanity. It’s simple but true.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!  


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