Sounds a little crazy, but this is what we did after supper this evening! My husband gets home before my son and I do, and today he was working on our front yard (what a good man!). Living in the country, we were blessed to buy a home that was built in the late 1800s with several tall, beautiful trees shading us from all around. The only downfall to the landscape of our yard is that we get a lot of large sticks that fall from these mature trees. With the weather being so nice lately, we decided to go outside after supper to pick up sticks in the yard, which is one of the few chores that we have given our son. While some chores like cleaning up his toys, helping to put clothes in the laundry, or feeding our dog are part of his responsibility to our family, Daddy pays him for helping with yard work. The bigger the pile of sticks, the more money he earns. Giving children age-appropriate chores allows them to see that taking care of a family and a home requires some work, it gives them pride and a feeling of ownership in their home, and also teaches them the importance of taking care of the things that belong to us.
This evening of outdoor chores was particularly enjoyable for me. As our son collected his share of sticks, I enjoyed watching the way that he would turn it into a game, playing with many of them in various ways before tossing them into a pile. It made me think of Mary Poppins and her “Spoonful of Sugar” song: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and SNAP! The job’s a game!” The temperature outside was probably in the mid-fifties, a cool but comfortable evening. Every so often, it would start to lightly rain, which didn’t seem to bother my hard-working child at all, until for a few minutes, the rain started to come down pretty hard. At that point, Daddy stayed in the yard, but our son came up onto the porch where I was sitting with our cat on my lap, and our dog followed right behind him. And we were all… silent… for a few minutes. Just listening to the rain fall around us. It was such a great little moment that made me truly grateful for the family that I have. When the moment was over, our son went back to his chore, and I found myself daydreaming about Spring so quickly approaching and all of the outdoor fun that it brings to our family.
Sometimes, the quiet moments speak the loudest to us about what we really love and appreciate in life.
My family loves to bond with the baby boy growing inside of me. My husband likes to talk to him, using his big, booming Daddy voice, so the baby will know who is in charge when he makes his arrival! My five-year-old whispers into my abdomen, “Baby… It’s your brother…” And as soon as I remind him that he has to speak loudly for the baby to hear him, he then yells, “Wake up, Baby!!” Silly child! And we all love touching my belly, patiently waiting for a kick or a jab. All of these are some of the fun, wonderful ways that families bond with their unborn children. But we all know that the most significant bond during this stage of a baby’s life is that of the baby and the mother, since their bodies are literally connected!
From the moment I took the pregnancy test that told me there was a tiny little human developing somewhere in my uterus, I have felt a wonderful mixture of love, joy, and concern for the baby’s well-being. I do my best to make sure that I eat properly, take my prenatal vitamin daily, read up on and apply pregnancy knowledge, and simply take care of myself while pregnant. However, the one area I have to admit that I have slacked in is exercise. It’s not that I don’t enjoy exercising, because I’ve honestly always loved that feeling after completing a decent workout. This time of year, with Spring just around the corner and Summer (swimsuit season!) immediately to follow, I typically begin a diet focused on portion control, along with a workout regime based on running outdoors (The Concrete Runner is a great blogging inspiration for you fitness mamas!) and a variety of aerobic workout videos. However, I have to admit that during my pregnancy, I’ve definitely become l-a-z-y.
While recently browsing the What to Expect website, my go-to source for most of my information on pregnancy, I came across several articles on the importance of exercise during pregnancy. The one article that spoke to me the loudest stated that not only will it benefit my own body and make it a bit easier to carry the extra weight, but it is also beneficial for the baby! Research shows that babies of moms who exercised during pregnancy score higher on general intelligence tests by age five. That was the one piece of information that I needed to motivate myself!
I found a Yoga for Pregnancy workout DVD that I had used during my first pregnancy (and my son is pretty smart, now that I think about it…), and I finally put it to use! At 28 weeks pregnant, it’s better late than never. Typically when I exercise, I tend to do the kind of workout that really kicks my butt. I like to be sweating, breathing hard, lungs burning, and heart-rate soaring post-workout! But when you’re pregnant, this kind of activity is not recommended, so I have to change my mind about what “exercise” means to me. Yoga is a great activity that promotes stretching, good posture, and more efficient breathing. When I finish the DVD program, I feel like I have more room in my body for myself and the baby. But what I really love about it is that it gives me time to really relax and focus completely on my baby. It provides me with a rare opportunity–other than when I can’t sleep at night–that I am alone with my baby and my thoughts, so that I can feel a deeper sense of connection with my little one. Bonding with my children is important, and usually, so is exercise, and yoga for pregnancy helps me fulfill both of those needs at the same time!
I plan to continue doing yoga a couple of times each week, while my husband gets that time to bond with our other son one-on-one (which will also be great practice for post-birth, when I will need time to recover, rest, and nurse with our baby). It’s a win-win situation!
What kind of exercise did you or are you enjoying during your pregnancy?
By day, I am an infant teacher. By night, a mother.
In both of my worlds, I play an important role as a caregiver, nurturer, and teacher.
Today, our preschool was closed for Presidents’ Day, but the staff had in-service training (while my son was able to have a fun-filled day with his Grammy!). The topic of our training today was on literature for young learners, and I took a lot of great information from the class. Not only can I use that information for my classroom and to benefit all the tiny learners that I care for forty hours each week, but I can also take home for my own young learner (soon to be learners!) at home. Here is my favorite quote from today’s training:
“There’s a clear indication of a neurological difference between kids who have regularly been read to and kids who have not” –G. Reid Lyon, PH.D
As a preschool teacher, the children who are read to on a daily basis tend to stand out in the classroom. Overall, they seem to have earlier language and speech development, they have a wider vocabulary, and they usually are more capable of sitting to listen to a story for a longer period of time. Reading aloud to your children offers so many benefits which include the enhancement of creativity and verbal skills, the promotion of attention and listening skills, being able to apply knowledge and critical thinking, and the creation of lifelong readers. The Children’s Reading Foundation recommends that we read to our children for twenty minutes every day, beginning with birth. (I plan to pack some picture books in our hospital bag!) They also have a great resource guide for parents (and grandparents!) with suggested age-appropriate reading activities to promote literacy. We are currently using this as a guide for our five-year-old to make sure that he is well on his way to being a reader, before he starts Kindergarten this fall, and I love their suggestions!
And while all of these benefits are wonderful and will have positive impacts, my favorite part of reading to my children (the little one growing snugly inside of me has can hear now, so I read aloud for him too… can’t hurt!) is for the bonding experience that it gives us. It feels so relaxing at the end of each day to let my son bring to me a few books, as we lean closely together, and explore the world through children’s literature. I can still remember that kind of quiet moment with my own mother, and I cherish them greatly.
And I know my children will too.
Whether we work full-time, part-time, or stay-at-home…
Whether we’re married, divorced, or single…
Whether we have a million other obligations in this world or not, our top priority has to be our children.
When I come home from work, there is dinner to be made, cleaning (an endless amount of laundry and dishes!) to be done, bills to be paid, a dog and a cat to be taken care of, preparations to be made for the following day, and–especially in my current pregnant condition–some much-needed daily relaxation time. But there is also a husband to connect with, and a five-year-old son who loves me, has missed me all day, and has looked forward to the few short hours at home with myself and his father before his (dreaded!) bedtime. I think we can all see what my top priority has to be in that list of daily responsibilities. By putting my child first, I am showing him that I reciprocate his love, and that he is deserving of my time. What a confidence booster! That’s when true self-esteem building occurs for our children, and it’s one of the best tools in life that we can give our children, just by taking the time for them.
Here is a great article that I found on Parenthood.com on why making the time to play with your children is so important:
While I encourage you to read the entire article, I know that your time is precious, and so I will give you some of my favorite highlights:
- Through play, we can enter the world as our children see it, allowing us to strengthen our bond and learn about their views of the world around them. By knowing what’s going on in their life (because it will come out during play!), we can help them sort things out and to develop critical problem-solving tactics.
- By playing with our children, we help them to master social and cooperative skills, help them to regulate their mood and behavior, and become more creative problem-solvers.
- Find time each day to play with your children. Whether it’s for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or more as your other responsibilities allow, it’s more about the quality of time versus quantity. Just make sure that your child gets to decide what you play (so that you can show you’re interested in what he or she likes!), and give your child 100% of your attention for that amount of time. No phones, computer, TV, or any other distractions, so that you’re child knows that they have your undivided attention, because they are worth it.
…And connecting with my husband can always occur after our son’s 8pm bedtime. 🙂