Our modern times are hurried ones, and although we do our best to slow down, have simple days, and make time for connection with our children, it is often easier said than done. When looking at our days, there are always chores to do, meals to prepare, errands to run and children to care for – sometimes stopping to connect means shifting perspective and understanding about what connection means to a young child. We often think we need a big outing to the park or zoo, library or museum to have meaningful moment with our children, but I believe some of the most profound moments happen right within the safe and loving arms of our daily rhythms and rituals.
We all have anchor points that ground our day; preparing and serving a meal, brushing teeth, picking up toys, putting on shoes, bathing and washing. With rituals in place, we can easily start to make a shift from the mindset of “have-tos” that we rush though, to making meaningful moments that will create connection and a memory for our children.
What happens when we first see out children in the morning? Do we remind them it is a school day, and “please hurry and get dressed! Breakfast is almost ready… we don’t want to be late!” What impression does that leave for the child? What tone does it set? Instead of focusing on the task before you, take a moment to SEE your child – look at their eyes, warm them with a hug and a smile. Let your body language say “I am happy to see you!” Then make the simple transition to “The oatmeal is almost ready. I will be adding the maple syrup, and could use your help setting the napkins. Off you go to get dressed, and I will see you back in the kitchen”. With the simple shift in language and intention, you helped ground your child (and yourself) for the morning ahead.
What about the times of self care that we encounter with our children – bathing, teeth brushing, etc? By tapping into the child’s wonderful sense of story and song, verse and rhyme, we can help to create a moment that is mutually enjoyed by both child and parent, helps the parent be present and un-hurried in the moment, and will create a warm memory for the young child as they grow. As you brush your child’s teeth – “Oh my, you have been a busy eater today! I see you had some juicy red strawberries for breakfast! And what is this here… oh, did you have a peanut butter sandwich at lunch!? Delicious!” and so on – recounting the day’s food in story fashion. Another teeth brushing moment could be saying good morning or good night to “all the little baby teeth – giving them a wash and taking good care of them, for they have worked hard chewing all day”. Using pictures and images, and breathing life into these tasks goes a long ways to make a “have-to” a moment of connection and joy.
Think about songs that you can use to cue the beginning of, and use during bath time. “A sailor went to sea, sea, sea, to see what he could see, see, see, but all that he could see, see, see was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea”. Dip, Dip, dip, my blue ship, sails along the water, like a cup and saucer, dip, dip, dip, my blue ship”. Or “Row, row, row your boat”. When bathing the young child, consider bathing them the same way each time – repetition creates a strong cellular memory and will give the child something to imitate when they are ready to take over the task of bathing themselves.
Shoes! This is something we do with a child everyday – often multiple times a day. Making the shift from this often hurried task, to a moment of connection, could be as simple as having a “shoe party” where you all sit and put on shoes together, or using verse to reinforce what is happening “ One, two, buckle my shoe!” , or again, breathing life into the ritual “ Oh, I see two little feet, looking for their home. Where, oh, where can there warm homes be? There they are, on go the shoes, and off we go!”
Even though our days will often still be rushed and fast-paced, by making a few simple shifts in our body language, tone and intention – just for a moment, we can shift these often hurried times, to warm and playful moments of connection between parent and child.
wishing you a day filled with connection,
Great Oak school is a developing member of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, and located in North Houston, Texas. At Great Oak School we believe children have the right to a meaningful and developmentally appropriate educational experience. Students here thrive in a joyful and engaging atmosphere. Through an experiential, uniquely integrated curriculum our teachers foster critical thinking and innovation, open-mindedness and compassion. It is not enough to challenge the mind; we aim to nourish the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of our students as well.
Great Oak School strives to develop not only academic and artistic excellence in its students, but a life long love of learning and reverence for the world around them.