Making Time for Tummy Time
I recently heard a program on OPB that got me thinking about winter activities and the proliferation of electronic devices in our families daily lives. The family highlighted in the program had made the difficult decision to live like it was 1987. No electronic gadgets, limited television channels and no Internet. I think they may have included a mullet hairstyle, which demonstrated their commitment to the exercise but please that never needs to come back, right. The parents point was their family had become too distracted by the intrusion of the I-Phone, Internet surfing and Xbox gaming to spend any quality time together. How many times a day do you say or think, “put that down and go do something”. The smartphone may begrudgingly get set aside, only to be replaced by video games or the television. This only adds to the parents’ frustration, followed simultaneously with whining or bickering from the child when you sternly state, ”no electronics, period”. Your child gives you a blank stare that says, if no electronics what am I suppose to do.
This is when you swoop in and reintroduce “tummy time”. Reintroduce because when they where babies we spent hours on the floor with them. Before they could walk, their world was a 3 x 3 blanket where you both played with toys, read stories, and you watched as they learned to roll over, begin to crawl and eventually walk/run around the house. Once they become school age that one on one time dissipated and with it the intimacy the two of you shared. I say reintroduce this practice and reap the benefits.
What do I mean by “tummy time”. Just that, time spend lying in the same room with your kids, and yes teens. This was several important components to it. First, it gets you both on to the floor focused on an activity and nothing else. Your child models your behavior, therefore if you are always on your phone why wouldn’t they be. If you are constantly distracted by life’s million interruptions, why should they believe theirs should be any different? So begin “tummy time” with your focus completely committed to the moment. Secondly, being on your tummy removes the child/parent barrier, both literally and figuratively. Your child literally looks up to you all day long; you are taller than they are. You are the adult and have a presence and power that looms over them at all times. When you physically move to their level you remove that physical barrier and you become equals for a moment. In that moment or activity they feel liberated to share with you in a manner reserved for their peers.
Getting to their level allows you both to become immersed in the project; you are both living in the moment. Try very hard to let go of being their parent, mentor and boss during this time frame. Let yourself be engulfed in the process or sense of wonderment that your child feels when doing a new task or exploring a new activity.
It is important to set a timer for “tummy time”, when the timer goes off then the roles can return. Having this specific time frame predetermined allows you the time to relax and immerse yourself in the activity. Let’s your child know this is not unlimited time and helps them focus as well. It also diffuses the frustration for both parties by cutting down on the whining and pleading to continue the activity after the allotted time fame is reached.
The program on OPB had this final objective or point, which really hit home for me. When your child looks back on their day, year or childhood what will they remember? A favorite television program, video game, I-chats with friends. I hope not, I hope they remember fun activities with mom and dad. That they have conversations in the car with you that start with, “remember when we did”…fill in the blank fun project. That is what stands out from ones childhood; the uninterrupted one on one time with the people they love the most.
Here is a list of activities for tummy time but you are creative, so think up your own as well:
1.) Leaves are falling from trees all over town. Take advantage of this for a very fun and very inexpensive activity. Help your child collect a selection of brightly colored leaves of similar colors but different shapes. Dry them out, and press them into a book. Once pressed, use an iron and wax paper to wrap the leaves and preserve them. Now on the floor you can cut around the waxed leaves, use a hole punch to create holes and string your leaves together using string, ribbon or strands of satin. Your child now has a daisy chain of fall foliage that can be used for holiday décor, or spice up their rooms. If you want to add a level of education, you can research some fun facts about your leaves or the trees they fell from. The benefit of this activity is it can be spread over multiple days. Remember to allow them the freedom and give them the trust to preform the necessary steps themselves. This self-discovery and personal time together is very important.
2.) Create a bowl of sloppy gloopy. This is a household favorite. This is best done in the kitchen because it can be a little messy depending on the age of the child. The basic premise is to add ingredients to a mixing bowl; any and all ingredients are available for Sloppy Gloopy. This will not be eaten, trust me your senses will make that very clear. I find it is beneficial on several levels for children. They get to explore the entire kitchen; the cupboards, refrigerator, and especially the spice cabinet. They are in charge of the process and I don’t get to dictate what is used or the amounts. It is empowering for children to be in control. Thirdly, the story telling that comes with why they are putting certain ingredients together is amazing. It is not easy to step back and not attempt to control the final product, but trust your child.
3.) Art. From color books to stencils, acrylic painting to potato carvings or cutting out snowflakes to designing creature out of clay, art is the best Tummy Time activity that you can share with your children. The oven bake able clay has been a huge hit at my house lately. The clay can be purchased at Michaels or at Blick Art Supply http://www.dickblick.com and it is very affordable. A block of clay is around $1.25 and shaping and cutting tools are under $3 each. For about $15 you can open up hours of entertainment for you and your child. The clay can be mixed with a touch of acrylic paint to add other colors if desired. This activity is very fun for the child and parent, plus you don’t have to be “artistic” to participate. I put down a small tarp or placemat to prevent spills. I tell my girls that the term “accident” implies you didn’t do it on purpose. Therefore diffuse the need to constantly remind them to be careful by taking that “ounce of prevention” ahead of time. Let your imagination soar, be creative and heed the following warning. Don’t make this about the outcome but the process. Don’t try to guess what they are making, let them be storytellers. Plus for younger children that glob of clay might resemble a giraffe and if say a snake, there feels are hurt. Lastly, don’t delay the baking of the final outcome; remember your children live in the moment. They want to play with their clay creation after tummy time is over.