When I first had Lila, I felt pressure to be actively engaged with her when she was awake. I’d talk to her. Sing to her. Move her body. But it all felt forced and unnatural. And it was exhausting us both.
A few months in I was researching parenting styles and came across RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers). I read up a bit and instantly really liked the approach. I’ll write about it more another time, but basically the jist is respecting your baby as a whole person who is capable on their own.
One of the main elements of RIE is to provide your baby with opportunities to play independently without much interference or guidance from mom or dad. They say the best thing you can do is to observe your child in play. Provide a loving presence, but don’t direct a la “the circle block goes in this hole not that one” etc.
Well this has turned out to be one of my favorite things to do with Lila. And it’s removed all the pressure I felt to be “always on.”
The morning is usually when she does her best independent play. I will set her on the floor with some simple toys and she will go to town for a good hour or so. I will make myself a latte and sit quietly with my back leaning against the couch watching her.
Every now and then she’ll look up at me and I’ll give her a smile, but I’m careful not to “show” her how to play with something or talk to her too much. I don’t want to break her concentration on what she’s doing. Because after all – play is how babies learn.
This morning she crawled over to her basket of books and got one out. This book had a hole through the pages that she was enthralled with. For a 45 mins she flipped that book around. Opened and shut pages. Put her fist through the hole. Banged the whole book on the floor. And of course, chewed on the edges.
The joy that she got from discovering one book was awesome. And it was so rewarding to just watch her explore her world while sipping my coffee. I feel like in those moments I get a window into her world and her budding personality.
This form of parenting might come off as lazy to some. Especially in a world of mandarin classes for two-year-olds. But I subscribe to the notion that parenting should be enjoyable. Not something that leaves us exhausted and constantly worrying if we’re doing enough. And there are few things I enjoy more than having a slow morning watching my girl absorbed in her play.