Today, I’m going to share 1 tip & 1 activity that releases yourself from the nagging belief that we need to do all kinds of things in order to enrich our babies.
Welcome to the Tuesday Tune-In. Here we go.
We really do drive ourselves crazy, right? It’s an epidemic of our generation. We had babies later in life than our parents did and had more time to feel independent, pursue careers and support ourselves than our parents ever did. We know how to get shit done.
It’s no surprise we feel a constant urge to enrich our babies.
We bounce through the night while scrolling through bits of information on how to do things best. Like business conferences, we absorb new information from our new friends and classes. And, as we go, we start to feel little pangs of stress. We look at the other babies and we wonder why our baby isn’t rolling yet, crawling yet, standing yet, talking yet or walking yet, like the other babies. That’s when we think we should be doing even more enrichment activities.
I know this all firsthand. I, myself, am an alpha mom type. In my case, with the second and third baby, I learned an important lesson:
Our babies actually don’t need us as much as we think.
They don’t need us to actively show them things. They are constantly exploring. They are natural scientists who are constantly gathering data from their surroundings. They’re finding patterns, noticing repetition and are continuously watching us very closely.
When we set out to actively enrich them, they don’t learn from our lesson plan, they learn from our unconscious behavior.
Babies are like mirrors, imitating our moves, our style, and our social behavior. Then we, in turn, mirror them back.
So here’s the tip for today: Let your baby lead you for 3 minutes (or more!)
- Where to be: Join your baby in the same position he or she is in. If she’s lying down, lie down next to her. If he is sitting playing, sit next to him. If she is on the move, walk with her and explore what she is exploring.
- What to do: Try to experience what she is experiencing. Try to imagine what she’s feeling in her hands or in her mouth. Now, all you need to do is try to see the world through her eyes.
- What to say: You don’t need to say anything or do anything. Your baby is doing it all for herself. We are just there to be present with them in their exploration and get a lesson from them on how to be present in play.
- What to watch: Look at your baby solely to see where they are looking. This is a mindfulness exercise. It is much more challenging than it sounds. (We spend most of our time gazing at our babies because they are beautiful and fascinating.)
What you may find is that your baby is on a constant quest to learn. He or she doesn’t actually need us to be the teacher. They just need us to make the classroom available. And the classroom is everything around us.
By the way, this is not just for babies. This is for kids of all ages. The 8 year old who is building stuff out of lego or boxes might want us to just sit nearby and be present with them. The 4 year old coloring might want us to join them in their process without showing them what to do, or even doing anything ourselves, rather just silently noticing or commenting on the process.
So the bottom line: You can relax. Your child knows how to learn. You just have to set the stage and let them lead.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressful has it been planning enrichment activities? COMMENT below and let me know.
Is our neighbor doing more to make their baby a genius? Heavens no! Have you ever felt that? how do you handle it?
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8 thoughts on “You don’t need to enrich your baby”
Thanks for another insightful post.
I rate it a 3, with difficulty arriving when there are requests for specific activities like ice skating, and that involves scheduling and travel.
I much prefer to linger and follow where play leads us. This is easier with a younger child but at all ages kids mainly just want our presence. And can I tell you what it always feels like a
miracle – or at least the richest of times spent – when I can do that – with awareness, go nowhere for an hour but where the child leads.
Thank you as well for this loving reminder to look where they look.
lol michael you have me wondering what the rating scale is.
But regardless – I share your excitement for those precious moments when we can follow our big kids lead just as we can follow follow our babies lead. Thanks for your comment 🙂
So true. Now that my toddler is becoming more verbal (and hasn’t developed filters), he asks us to do exactly what you’re suggesting – “Mommy, come sit! Let’s [play trains, read this book, spill noodles] togeder!”
Thanks for all of your wisdom and support, Vered.
Hi Yael, isn’t it amazing how our babies ask us exactly for what they need but we don’t always hear it? I am constantly guilty of that with my own. Thanks for listening, to me and to him 🙂 and thank you for your comment.
Vered insightful and sooo true, not only is it stressful to try to organize lots of different activities, but also challenging and frustrating sometimes- although I enjoy every piece when something new to explore is accomplish- I also get a bit upset unconsciously if thing don’t work out the way I wanted or foresaw them. Finally I believe we tend to plan according to our own likes and don’t take advantage of their own unique full potential! Thank you for giving me (and many for sure) a break on this- will remember it when scrolling through what to do this weekend! Lots of good spirits to you!
Alexandra that is a really good point that way sometimes organized their activities around our own likes and dislikes. Thank you for adding that. And i’m so happy that you see this as a break. That’s exactly what I was hoping. It’s amazing how when will we release a bit and realize that our kids can lead we can actually be a bit more present with them. Thank you so much for your comment 🙂
Thank you for writing this! Just what I needed this morning as my three year old ran around and refused to get dressed while I ‘neglected’ my three month old on the tummy time mat. I often feel like I don’t have enough time for either of them, so I try so hard to make the time ‘count’’ that I end up stressing all of us out ! Just tried your suggestion of laying on the floor without any agenda. It was beautiful and a lovely bonding experience
Hi Ashley I am so happy to hear that! Yes I get it. Juggling two kids can be stressful! And we try so hard to be present that sometimes we put in TOO MUCH effort. So happy that you had a relaxing and bonding experience with your baby following your baby’s lead. Thank you so much for your comment 🙂
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