What did you say? “Let him play!”
What I really meant was: “Throw the plan out the window.”
Wow, this is easy to say and much harder to do. Here’s how I found out.
When I became a stay at home mom, my parenting started to change. There was a 6 months period of adjustment. I spent quality time with my son and lived in the moment.
After that, I thought to myself “Wow, raising your son is now your full-time job.” It seems as if overnight the stakes were higher with this “job”.
The pressures of trying to do the right thing for him translated into finding the right education, the right food, the right schedule and ultimately the right parenting.
Without the distraction of an actual full-time job, this “job” of being a mommy seemed to up the stakes of every parenting decision. I came up with a curriculum. I planned out all the skills he would learn. I followed it up with all the activities that he could do to learn those skills. I carefully logged and documented.
Then, one day, it happened. I was paralyzed with the fear of being an imperfect parent. I suddenly couldn’t decide which activity I wanted him to do the next day from my carefully devised plan. Then, as days went by, I couldn’t bring myself to setup any new activities. Before I knew it, a month passed.
During that month, something magical happened. We did a lot of outdoor activities: playing in mud, going to the pool, going to the playground and run through various sports fields. We read a ton, did some crafts and a few sensory activities here and there.
At home, I brought out toys when he seemed bored. He was on the iPad for some educational games and shows. Each day was not planned. I looked up the weather in the morning and depending on the weather we just did what we felt like doing on that day.
Soon enough, my son disregarded his toys. He spent hours asking me to chase him at playgrounds, at home and at the pool. Usually, mommy is the dinosaur or the sea monster. He giggled and laughed wildly while we played our chasing game.
It got to a point that I suspected he even dreamed about the game while he slept due to the fact that he would laugh the same way during his night time sleep.
But, the fact that his gross motor skills didn’t need any more development nagged at me. I’d rather him learn to sit still, color in the pages, cut bread into different shapes and use a turkey baster for water transfer.
But, slowly those chasing games started to become a routine that both of us didn’t want to give up. His night time sleep laughter was contagious.
After a while, I finally realized that I needed to go back to my original “follow the child” mantra from my Montessori readings. It is hard sometimes to just trust him to develop. That is what I consistently feel like the most difficult lesson I’m learning at this job of parenthood.
Letting him play as much as he wants at things that interests him is a parental decision that I will second guess over and over again in the coming days. But, each time, my son’s contagious night time laughter is what I will use to keep me on my toes.
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