5 Top Tips for Playing With Your Childby Your Baby Club
Playtime is widely considered as one of the most enjoyable ways a parent can spend time with their children, however, for many, it can also be a cause of a great deal of worry. Recently at Your Baby Club, we found that over a quarter of YBC members surveyed said they are worried about how much time they get to spend playing with their little ones and a third of YBC members said they feel pressure to ensure their child develops at a certain pace, and this is something that we want to fix. So here we are to make playtime great again!
To do this, we got Clinical Psychologist Dr Gemma Parker to share some top tips to help get your mind at ease and make playtime better for both you and your little one.
1: Nurture independent play.
Independent play doesn’t mean a baby being unsupervised, but it does mean that they could be exploring while you are completing other tasks nearby or having a moment to relax. One option is to create a play space on the floor in which a choice of activities or stimulating objects are within your child’s reach. This allows them to play, explore and experience freedom within safe limits, and you get a bit of a breather.
2: Add in some mindfulness.
For busy parents, incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives is really helpful. For example, handwashing is an opportunity for 20 seconds of mindfulness. Try taking a deep breath as you turn the tap on, releasing any tension from your jaw as you do this. Listen to the sound of the water, notice the feeling and temperature of the water on your hands. How does the soap smell? Pay attention to each part of your hand as you wash it. If you like, visualise the water washing away any remaining tension from your body. This process can also be applied to walking, eating, even changing a nappy!
3: Be aware of negative patterns.
The internet has benefits and drawbacks. It can connect us but can also promote negative comparisons to others who are likely to share only their successes. Try paying attention to your internet use over a couple of days. Notice when it helps you to feel connected and engaged, and when it creates more stress and negativity for you. Use this feedback to tailor your time online.
4: Check your expectations.
Try to make sure that your expectations for play aren’t too high. Very small babies only need you to maintain their attention or alertness for short periods. You can do this with your facial expressions and tone of voice. Once they are nearer to 3 to 6 months old, you can introduce patterns and then vary those patterns and see their delight when something unexpected happens, like pulling a different face during peekaboo or changing the words to their favourite songs. If your play is too busy or is beyond their abilities, you’re likely to feel disconnected from each other, which can be stressful. So, check your expectations and enjoy some well-attuned playtime.
5: Invite support and connection.
Think creatively about your support network. Try developing a mind map of your friends and family and identify their strengths. Perhaps someone good with kind words could text you every week, or a friend who has a similar parenting style to you could offer a phone call. Sometimes people need to be invited to support us; being specific about this can help them to do this. For example, your partner might not realise that you need a cuddle when you’re upset rather than a list of possible solutions. Think about how you could let people know about your support needs so that you can feel more connected.
Got any tips or tricks that worked for you? Why not get in touch for your chance to be included in one of our next articles!
Dr Gemma Parker is the director of Raising Relationships CIC, a social enterprise that works with families, couples and individuals in and around Manchester who want to have happier, healthier relationships.