Friday, April 27, 2012

Raising Independent Children

I have always believed that children should know how to entertain themselves.  Another way of saying this is that I don't believe in 'entertaining' children.

When my girls were small, I would set toys out for them and go about my business of cleaning, laundry, meal prep.  Up until they were 3 or 4, I always kept them in the room with me. I would give them pots and pans to play with if I was cooking and we kept their play kitchen in our kitchen.  I had baskets of toys stowed away in various spots throughout our home and gave the girls toys as I did my thing.  Our computer was in their playroom, so I was right nearby.

By the time my girls were 3 and 4, they had developed their own games, interests, and activities.  My girls explored what interested them, read and learned what they needed to in order to create the things that they wanted to create or be able to do the things that they wanted to do.  Several years ago, Allie was interested in Fimo clay and researched how to make things with Fimo clay in books and on youtube.  Piper loves her American Girl dolls but I won't spend hundreds of dollars on furniture for them, so Piper looked at youtube for inspiration at how to use things we had around the house to make doll furniture.  Recently my girls became interested in making stop motion videos and figured it out on their own, when I tried to help I over-complicated everything and confused them, so I left them alone to do their own thing.

I don't have the attention span to play Barbie dolls or dollhouse and my girls get frustrated with me when I try, because I don't do it the way that they do. 

This is not to say that I don't do things with my girls.  We just do other things.  We cuddle in bed together and talk.  We cuddle together while I read to them or we all read independently.  We cook together.  We watch movies together.  We play games together.  We go on long walks and bike rides together.  We have "spa days" together where we do each other's nails and rub scented lotion in our skin.  We go on field trips and day trips together. 

I often hear moms say that blogging takes too much time away from their children or they feel guilty sitting and reading or doing something for themselves.  I think it's important to take a step back and encourage our children to learn to do for themselves, to learn what they enjoy and how to pursue those things.  I also think it is imperative that we show our children that we do the same, be it blogging or editing photos or teaching ourself web design, when we do something we enjoy, research HOW to do it, learn and grow from the experience, we are teaching our children a very important lesson: learning never ends!