Making Space

Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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We tend to think of our kids in sets of 2.  The 2 older kids, “the big kids”, tend to be doing something together most of the time.  The “babies” tend to be on or near me, or crying, or both.  I spend a fair amount of time trying to get William to sleep, to get Elliott to get involved in something that will actually keep him happy for a little while, or to get William to play on the floor for 10 minutes straight so that I can get something done – him learning to crawl and such wouldn’t hurt anything either.  But, a lot of days, it seems like I’m not succeeding in any of those endeavors.

So, yesterday, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook.  This isn’t unusual – my friends list is full of other moms, and we all know how moms are when it comes to posting pictures of our kids on Facebook, right?  But, this particular friend has a baby who is about a month younger than William.  The picture was of the baby, who had made his way across the floor to the toys housed along the side of the room.  I just kept looking at that picture and thinking that if only William had some different toys to play with, perhaps he would stay occupied a bit longer at a stretch.  Then I thought about how my other kids had spent so much time playing with their toys at this age.  But William seems so bored with all of his toys!

So, I just kept looking at that picture.

And I thought about how Sofi’s toys were right in the living room, on a book shelf, when she was 7 months old.  I thought about how Walter joined Sofi in the playroom, crawling from the play kitchen to the bookshelves, to the play stands at 7 months old.  Elliott started out with a handful of toys on the lowest shelf of the built-in at our old house, and then scooted right into the playroom with “the big kids” at about 7 months old.

But William just isn’t going that far yet.  And he is so bored.  And I am SO ready for him to be ready to play.  And I just kept looking at that picture!

And then I looked REALLY hard at my living room.  And I found the last little bit of space hiding in our living room, and got to work.  I cleared off the cubby shelves in the playroom, and Sofi and I hauled it to the living room.  We found all of the toys that would be safe for William and put them in the cubbies.  Then, we hauled the play kitchen in.

William was so interested in what I was doing that he sat there and played and chewed on his toys while we moved furniture.  When we were done, I moved him over closer to the cubbies and he got SO excited that he didn’t fuss for an hour, while I made dinner and cleaned up!  He wiggled, and scooted, and tried to pull up on the shelves.  He did all of those things that I have been praying he would do soon!  Even Elliott played happily for a few hours.  It was a dream come true!

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It’s funny, because I know that very young children have an intense need to be close to their caregivers.  I know that they need to play close to where the adults are working.  But, in moving, and planning, and WISHING about the set up of our house, I had hoped that having the toys in the room right off the living room would be enough to keep the kids playing happily while I get to have a sparkly living room.  And when it wasn’t working, it took me a while to come around to the fact that my lack of happy children was because of my desire for a toy-free living room.  I’m so grateful that my friend posted that picture on Facebook, and reminded me that the toy-free living room might be on my five-year plan, I’ll be happier overall with some toys in the living room for now.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • When Three-Year-Olds Stand Up For Themselves — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at her blog, Parental Intelligence, enjoys the stage when three-year-olds dramatically wow their parents with their strong sense of self.
  • This too shall pass — In the beginning, everything seems so overwhelming. Amanda at My Life in a Nutshell looks at the stages of the first 1.5 years of her daughter’s life and explains how nothing is ever static and everything changes – the good and the bad.
  • Age 5 – Is It Really A Golden Period? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the developmental norms for the five-year-old set and muses over if this age really is the ‘golden period.’
  • How much do you explain to your preschooler when crime touches close to home? — When tragedy strikes someone your preschooler knows, Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings wonders how parents can best help young children cope.
  • Thoughts on ToddlerwearingThat Mama Gretchen‘s babywearing days are over, we’re living it up in the toddlerwearing days now!
  • Parenting Challenges—Almost a man — Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about leaving childhood behind as her son turns 12.
  • How Child Development Works — Competence Builds Competences — Debbie at Equipped Family shares how each stage of childhood builds on the next. Focus on doing the current stage reasonably well and success will breed success!
  • Making Space — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is adjusting her thinking and making room for her babies to stay near her.
  • The Best Parenting Resources for Parents of Toddlers — Toddlers can be so challenging. Not only are they learning how to exert their independence, but they simply do not have the developmental ability to be calm and logical when they are frustrated. It’s the nature of the beast. I mean … the toddler. Here are Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s favorite books and articles about parenting a toddler.
  • The Fab Five Stages so Far — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one stage for this carnival and is sharing her top five favorite stages in the young lives of her son and daughter at Natural Parents Network.
  • The best parts of ages 0-6 — Lauren at Hobo Mama gives a breakdown of what to expect and what to cherish in each year.
  • Lessons from Parenting a Three-Year-Old — Ana and Niko at Panda & Ananaso are quickly approaching the end of an era — toddlerhood. She shares some of her thoughts on the last two years and some tips on parenting through a time rife with change.
  • Feeling Needed — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders which developmental stage is her favorite and why. She bares it for us, seemingly without fear of judgment. You might be surprised by her answer!

6 comments to Making Space

  • It is surprising sometimes that our need for control as parents is what is effecting our children so negatively. Glad a little rearranging on your part was all it took!

  • We had toys in our living room for the longest, longest time. Now that we have a dedicated playroom, I’m happier that our living room is cleaner, but you’re right – they play longer when I’m present. Thinking…

  • Yes, I agree! We don’t have a playroom, but we’ve had talks about moving toys up only to the kids’ bedroom — and it’s obvious that they wouldn’t play with them in that case! Well, really, they would — but first they’d drag them into the living room. ;)

  • We have a space in the basement for some of the toys and then the rest is upstairs on our main floor. Now that you mention it, the only time my kids want to go play in the basement is when they have spent the day getting their fill of me, then and only then are they feeling the need to stretch a little and play away from me. Hmmmm…

  • kellie

    My older kids are happy playing out of my sight for long stretches, and Walter has always been more independent as far as that is concerned. Elliott still doesn’t want to be far from me for very long. He will go out to play with the big kids, or go to the playroom, but within 15 minutes or so, he is right back to me.

  • Love how you thought about the issue and exercised a little flexibility for the greater good. More independent play is right around the corner, before you know it!

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