If we compare the generation of our parents, and their parents, with the generation of today, there is so much we can say is different. For starters, look at all the technology available to us today. We have modern gadgets all over the place - and that has shaped and changed the way we raise our children.
One of the biggest differences seems to be that we have both parents now working full time, or a mom working at least half-day, to make ends meet. Things are much more expensive, and we somehow just need so much more of everything. We no longer have all friends, family and a workplace within a 5 minute radius of our homes as well. We travel longer distances to spend longer hours doing a job that pays just enough to make ends meet. And so we work even longer hours and travel even further distances to make more money so that our children can have more expensive toys and go to a more expensive daycare. It just seems never-ending, and whilst its often unrealistic to expect mothers (or fathers!) not to work, we get so caught up that we forget the little things.
I have seen far too much of this. And I have seen the effect it is having on our children. 10 minutes of TV time turns into an hour, and before you know it, the whole afternoon. They say with everything that moderation is key - whilst this is true, there is no standard, set criteria for moderation. My version might be half an hour in the exersaucer, yours might be 3 hours a day. Moderation is subjective. And this is my biggest concern when the media are throwing the word around - for the food we eat, the exercise we do, the bad habits we have. It seems like everything is okay, as long as it is done in moderation. But there comes a point as a parent, when you stop and look at what your children are doing, and wonder whether these few minutes or hours every day could be spent in a far better way.
When it comes to parenting, none of us like to hear that we are doing things wrong. We defend our choices and our actions because, lets be honest, we actually are trying our best! There are things we don't know and things we are not aware of, but regardless of the circumstances, we are trying to be good parents and give our babies and children the best we possibly can.
So my advice for today is this:
1) turn the TV off.
2) put away the electronic toys.
3) take your child out of the entertainment stations - the exersaucer, the jumper and the walker.
4) turn the computer, tablet and mobile phone off.
And do these instead:
1) use an activity gym to allow for movement that is natural and free, like rolling or transitional movements. Use a boppy pillow to support sitting with toys around your child for him to play with.
2) bring out toys that captivate your child and allow for the development of cognition, problem solving and decision making - like shape sorters, stacking rings, blocks, mirrors, rattles, rainsticks and musical toys. Give him toys that he has to figure out and that require effort. Not electronic toys that play an entire tune at the light touch of a button.
3) play with your child, on your lap, on your hip, on the floor or on the bed. Wherever you are, bring your child with you. Show them what you are doing. Point and name things around you. Talk to him, and let him learn about the environment he lives in. Play peek-a-boo, blow bubbles, sing nursery rhymes and just interact with one another!
4) facilitate some sensory play. Children learn by using all of their senses to explore with things. Give them things to touch, to smell, to taste, things to hear and things to look at. Use ball ponds, sand pits and allow for outside play on a blanket (in the right weather, of course). Make a sensory board with things that you have lying around the house, just remember to ensure the safety of your children with all objects they come into contact with.
Let them feel, move and explore. Let them learn.