There is always something (or someone) to feel guilty about as a parent. At the moment, for me, it is little baby F. I am completely in love with her, and I miss our evening cuddles now that she has a bedtime and is asleep from half past seven. I really miss that uninterrupted time of just cuddling and feeding of an evening.
She is also so sweet, so undemanding, and so content as long as I am nearby. And the others are so busy, their needs so obvious, that sometimes it is a case of those who shout the loudest getting heard. there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Of course, little F does get something out of watching the others, and being around them, and exploring independently. I am careful to include her, to let her participate in our activities where she can, or just explore the materials we use. I do also make an effort to involve L and N in looking after her. But although she doesn’t seem to suffer for it, I think she does miss out on that focused attention the other two did get as babies. Even writing that makes me feel sad, but think I probably miss out on her more than she misses out on me.
So last week, we developed Tiny Time. My idea is that twice a day, for just fifteen minutes, I focus completely on F. The others may join in, but the play is focused on her, and they understand this is F’s time. It is not a time for running around boisterously and distracting her, it is quiet time for baby play. It can be more than twice a day, that is a minimum (I just wanted to make sure it was little and often; there is nothing magic about the fifteen minutes or the twice a day. It was simply what I felt I could commit to).
So far, we have…
Had a big, unhurried splashy bath with toys for F, where she was allowed to handle the toys for as long as she wanted without having them snatched away, where she wasn’t squeezed in between the other two for a quick dunk and scrub, and where there was no overwhelming splashing and shouting.
Played with giant buttons, giving her time to practise picking them up, enjoy the feel and bright colours, and develop that pincer grip whilst I was completely focused on her so that she couldn’t eat any. Ditto with squishy pom poms:
Handled wooden dominoes, which she enjoyed passing from one hand to the other and back again, as well as having a good chew.
Read baby books, cloth books, with pleasing rhymes and lovely feely pages.
Listened to music – classical, nursery rhymes, and a bit of johnny cash.
Played “where’s the teddy” – covering teddy with a blanket, asking her “where’s the teddy?”, and watching her anticipate the pulling away of the blanket to reveal teddy’s hiding place – this brought on F’s first proper belly laugh and giggle, which was definitely worth setting aside fifteen minutes for!
Played clapping games, sung incy wincy spider, five little ducks, and (F’s favourite) played row the boat, with many many made up verses involving various bodies of water, different animals and the children’s names.
Played with silver foil
Looked out of the window and watched the wind moving the trees, talking about what we saw..
Pointed to body parts and named them (eyes, nose, chin, hands) – simple, but she really seems to enjoy it).
Played This Little Piggy, and counted her toes.
Practised babbling…ba ba ba…da da da….and most importantly ma ma ma….in the hope of hearing that first “Mama” when she learns to copy! She particularly likes this with a kiss on the final “ma” 🙂
And played with a crinkly baby wipe packet, another current favourite of F’s (who needs toys?!)
F seems to look astonished / confused / displeased in every photo I take – I promise this is just her reaction to this puzzling flashing object I keep interrupting her play with, and that she enjoys the activity better without it, which is why I don’t take as many photos as I do of the other two, who can’t wait to be photographed to show Grandma! But just to prove that F occasionally smiles…
As she gets a bit bigger I intend to get her involved in a bit more sensory play, putting shaving foam on her highchair tray, letting her play with a bowl of oatmeal….but at the moment she is resistant to it and it seems to overwhelm her. Tiny Time is definitely a success though, and I can already see that she is benefitting (I only have to think of that huge laugh!).
But in between, I let her comfort feed, suckle, sleep on me, as much as she likes, because for me and for F, breastfeeding is about more than nutrition, and these days won’t last for long.