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How to Encourage Independence


New Chapters in parenting

This weekend we hit a new chapter of parenting: Independence! Our kids are now 4 and 6, and this weekend was the first time they independently played outside with our neighbors for about 2 hours. It was incredible.

As a disclaimer – we live in Montana, where the Covid-19 restrictions in our county are allowing for outside interactions of groups up to 10.  So, we are definitely still obeying all the health laws and guidance.  But you guys.  This was an incredible milestone for us.  We just moved into a new home in March, and we are starting to feel like the wonderful family next door, and the neighborhood park in our backyard are the two best parts of this home.  Here’s how we got there:

1.  We make the outdoor play materials accessible to the children, so they don’t need our help.  The basketballs are in a box that is on the bottom shelf near the garage entrance, and sidewalk chalk is stored right beside it.  Also, our daughter just learned to ride her bike in April, so bikes are THE primary necessity right now.  We invested in this bike rack, so the kids can easily get their bikes on their own.  Also, they can park their bikes and put their helmets easily on the handle bars, so there is less, “Where is my helmet?”, when they want to go play. This preparation of the environment has proved worth it’s weight in gold!

2.  We have discussed clearly the expectations for independent play. To prevent the need to constantly intervene, with corrections on their behavior, we discuss rules beforehand.  Our expectations include:

  • Use kind words and gentle hands
  • Be respectful to all people and things
  • Stay within the sidewalk, yard and neighboring yards/sidewalks.  No going in the street/across streets.
  • If another child isn’t respecting when you ask them to stop – come get help from an adult.

3.  We are working REALLY hard to allow them the chance to be independent.  Sometimes I uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t know exactly what they are doing.  But I try to remind myself that children build self-esteem through feeling capable and competent.  I want them to grow the internal confidence that they CAN function without mom and dad.  I want them to grow in their ability to solve a problem without me.  These types of things really require a bit of independence to really develop.  So, I peek my head out the door every now and then, to be sure there isn’t an emergency. But I do my best to keep my nose out of their business.

With these 3 tools in place, we are reaping huge benefits! This morning I was able to drink an entire cup of coffee, before it got cold.  Who knew we would ever get there?!

Supporting Parents During Covid-19


Hi there! It’s April, 2020 – and Covid-19 has made our world a very different place.  To connect with parents who are facing such a variety of challenges in this socially-distanced world, I hosted a Facebook Live question/answer hour.  Join me again this Monday, at 2pm MST to get YOUR questions answered.:) Here is the replay, if you missed it:

Join me Monday 4/20 at 2 PM Live on Facebook, as I answer YOUR questions, and shares some non-judgmental, supportive tips and tools for the struggles & challenges of parenting during COVID-19. Hope to see you there: https://www.facebook.com/justastayathomemomblog/. We will record for those who can’t make it live.

The need to move


13220575_10154206908649345_6153058951171844569_oIn the past month my little wonderful two year-old has been more two than wonderful.  Having a new little sister arrive has undoubtedly been influencing some of his behaviors, but I also think he has just hit a stage of development were he has a deep need for lots of large motor movement.  After I had a couple rough days in a row with him, I spent an evening trying to “get curious, not furious” (as a mentor of mine, John Sommers-Flannagan, once said).

I do this often with my son when I feel like we have come to a “stuck” place in our relationship (or in my parenting).  It’s about reflecting and trying to think through what common factors seems to be related to the troubled situations, and what I haven’t tried yet.  In this case, I started realizing that my son’s challenging behavior was coming on the heels of 1 week sick (& stuck in the house sitting on the couch a lot), and another week of rain (again stuck in the house a lot).

13220699_10154206908579345_1434936265952087414_oSo, we decided to have as much outside and large motor movement activities as possible for the next few days to see if it impacted his behavior.  It did!

We took an afternoon to throw rocks in the river, search for bugs, and chase dogs that were nearby.  It was a blast! AND, he was his best version of himself that afternoon and evening.  So… this was a great reminder for me that kids this age NEED lots of time to move.  We will be continuing to make room for as much outside time as possible!

A day of slow parenting


Have you heard of this new movement called “Slow Parenting”.  I was first introduced to the idea a month ago when a mom wrote an article on opting for a “Slow Parenting” summer.  The idea was intriguing.  The main concept is to slow down in this very busy planned world we all live in.  It’s an opposition to overscheduling and overstressing a child with too many “enrichment” classes/activities.

Just 2 weeks ago, the Boston Globe posted an article about slow parenting, and it sums up this counter-cultural approach so well:

“I encourage parents to take some time to just watch their children, whether they are playing, doing homework, or eating a snack,” [John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent] says. “Take a moment to drink them in. Remember and remind yourself how remarkable your children are. That pause alone, even if momentary, can drive a shift in the pace”…

“These days when everyone is so busy, we need to be intentional about making space for family time…” Family time, says Contey [cofounder of Slow Family Living] is different for all of us. “You might say, ‘we’re all here on Thursday mornings, so let’s make a leisurely pancake breakfast’; or one night a week take a walk in the dark before bed. Something like that can feel really special and the kids will remember it as they get older”…

So, I focused on this idea yesterday and slow parenting was fantastic!image1 image2

We went to 1 outing in the morning for 1/2 an hour and besides that we just  went at Chunky Monkey’s pace, enjoying things big and small around our house.  He played with some “typical” play things, like play dough and finger paint.  But the best part was probably when he was just exploring our house without any agenda (and I was along for the ride!).

He sat on the stairs for a really long time, practicing turning around and moving up and down.  I was right there for safety, but normally I would have missed all of this because I just want him to go up or down and get where we are going.  He wandered in and out of our closet, bringing out various pairs of mom/dad’s shoes for me to “put on” him (I use that term loosely).  And he went in small areas of the room to “hide” from me and giggled hysterically each time I found him.  I hung on every giggle wishing I could somehow mentally record the sound and never forget it.

It was SO much fun! I found myself really actually present with him.  And I realized there are many moments in a day where I am just trying to have him be busy so I can talk to a friend, on a play date.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to fully take in the little man he is becoming.  I really got to observe how his large motor coordination is developing and marveled at the things his eyes and hands were eager to explore.

If you take a day, or a season, to really focus on slow parenting, I’d love to hear about it.:-)  Looking for other summer ideas? Check out this article on 4 Reasons to Garden With Your Young Children.

Author: FLORA

I am a post-career SAHM (Stay-at-home mom), living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little ones.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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