You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Summer is a great time to try a little slower parenting!

slow parenting and play

Summer is the perfect time to S-l-o-w  D-o-w-n your parenting! 

Take a moment to “chill” this week and you might feel better and your child may just learn more!  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less scheduling, lots of play, simple toys and lots of time as a family for a child’s healthy development.  What does this mean??  It just might mean that we as parents need to take a “chill pill” ( to borrow a phrase from my kids).  This week make a real effort to relax your parenting.

  • Take time to look and listen.  Let your child set the pace in an activity.  If your plan was to go on a “nature hike” let your child decide what will be picked up, looked at, and listened to.  Let your child decide how far this walk needs to go….a hike is not a learning experience just because you finished the trail!!
  • Let your child talk…take it easy on the “quizzing”.  After an outing or a scheduled class, let your child share.  Be careful about interrogating your child.  You will soon see that your child will share on his or her own or with just a little prompting what was fun about the experience and what was not!  Often the value of an experience is not vocalized…it is the total experience that is valuable, not a single “lesson learned”.  Children who are “quizzed” after every activity will often just shut down.  Be patient, your child will share but remember, what your child shares will often not be the true “value” of the experience.  That trip to Disney we took had to be more valuable than the Mickey pop that one of my kids said was the best part of the trip!
  • Every outing does not have to be planned.  Try letting your family time go “freestyle” sometimes.  Just “hang out” and let your child explore the world, sometimes simply being nearby is all your child wants or needs.
  • Allow surprises to happen.  Some of the best days and most valuable lessons just happen when you have created a loving and enriched environment for your child.  If you home is filled with books, puzzles, and toys that encourage open child led play then great “teaching moments” just happen with no pressure.
  • Slow down the pace.  Remember, not every activity has to have a learning plan with it!  The pressure to having a “lesson” with every activity will suck the curiosity from your child.  Helping your school aged child stay focused on homework is one thing, but staying focused without breaks for down time play is detrimental.
  • Take the chill pill.  When you stop and take a deep breath, sit down and put your feet up, it not only relaxes you but your child.  Children learn from their parents’ examples.  So learn to “chill out” this summer, the learning happens even in moments of relaxation.  A little less structure is good for stressed out parents and it actually may boost your child’s learning!  Learning is an open-ended process…and summer is the perfect time to just let it happen.

I may just do the same this week…sometimes the best moments and conversations with my older children are unplanned too!  Now I find those moments result in me learning about life too, kids have a way of doing that!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


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