Have you ever sat down with your toddler to read books before bedtime and they bring out the exact.same.book.from.last.night (and the night before, and the night before that and...you get the idea)? Many parents think “Oooofff. Again?” Yep, again. There are some books I have read so many times that I could probably recite them backwards. The good news is- there are great scientific and developmental reasons why children want to hear the same stories over and over- and that can put our minds at ease knowing there is an actual reason for it, BUT- that fact doesn’t totally help us find enjoyment in reading that book again. How about when your child is OBSESSED with dolls, trains, dinosaurs, (whatever it is…) and you, well, just can't get "in to it"?! We know our kiddos want us to play with them, but sometimes it just.doesn't.feel.fun.
First of all, it is O.K. to not always have fun during playtime. We are not bad parents if we don’t want to play with dolls or dino's or are sick of the same book. Moreover, it is ALSO O.K. to say “no” to playing sometimes. Our culture has decided to make parents feel less-than when we can’t be the in-home chef, doctor, teacher, AND playmate- all at the same time. But, again, it is truly O.K. to say “no” when the kiddos ask you to play when the timing isn’t right.
When, however, you DO gear up for playtime or story time (or meal time, or park time or any time) HOW can parents find more enjoyment? One way it to practice mindfulness. Wait- what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply paying attention on purpose. It helps us focus on the here and now so we spend less time in the past (which often leads to depressive thinking. EX: “I wish I would have….”) and/or future (which often leads to anxious thinking: EX: “I really need to…”). Gifting our children our full presence is one of the more compassionate things we can do as a parent- it helps us understand, and accept what is happening- without trying to ignore or change it. Practicing mindfulness as a parent can lead to stronger bonds, calmer attitudes, better communication, more control over automatic reactions, lower stress, and more. Sold? Us too.
So where does mindfulness fit into playtime? Here are some concrete ways to reset, bring ourselves back, and ultimately find more enjoyment when we find ourselves distracted or, quite honestly, bored:
As always, if you are feeling stuck in a rut and are curious about personalized ideas for playtime with your little one, reach out for a FREE 15-minute consultation.