Dance Party Parenting

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play
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 shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

The Pre-tackle Face!

I’m fairly certain there will be a fair amount of posts in this carnival that talk about how the parents have learned to diffuse toddler tantrums with play.  And how play has helped in some of the most stressful times in their families.  These are wonderful topics, and since that’s what this carnival is about, it’s wonderful these contributors stuck so closely to the theme.  But I want to take this opportunity to talk about how play can be transformative for the parent.  

I’m talking about myself, of course.  I’m not what you would call fun.  Prior to having children, I babysat a lot.  I was good for potty training, bandaging skinned knees, homework help and tidying up after the kids went to bed.  But I never had a reputation for being great at hopscotch or dress up. When I got pregnant with my first child, I bought every book
on pregnancy and childbirth.  I wanted to
be prepared.  I researched, I questioned
and I made my choices. If parenting were all about statistics and theory, I’d be
set.  However, no matter the shear
perfection of your schedule and how organized your routine, there are days that
everything is just thrown to the wind and you have to just deal.  My son was colicky and grumpy.  Everything he does, he takes seriously.  He’s intense about life and the level it
should be lived at.  

I read all my books and followed the suggestions for “playtime”.  I felt awkward and uncomfortable as I tried to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider to him.  I tried to teach him Pattycake and it just wasn’t even remotely amusing to him or I.  I had high expectations for myself as a parent, and I felt like I wasn’t even connecting enough with my son to have all this fun we were supposed to be having.  For several months I felt like a failure as a parent until one day I discovered the Black Eyed Peas and how much Liam enjoyed the beat of their music.  I had put him in the doorway jumper to see if he could bounce at all and I was shocked at how excited he got!  So there we were, in the kitchen bouncing like nuts to the music and having fun.  Real fun, not scheduled, age appropriate, APA approved fun.  

When my husband came home that night, I think he had thought I had gone insane.  Suddenly, I realized that my parenting wasn’t all about schedules and organization, it was about my son.  We started to play with trucks and I learned how to make silly noises.  I taught him how to splash in the bath water irregardless of the amount of mess it made.  Now we have laughing contests, dance parties, and wrestle.  Liam is still relatively high needs as far as his personality and what he needs from me on a daily basis.  Because we can play together, I can use our physical play to deal with his toddler temper or his over-excitement towards his baby sister.

For myself, I’ve found that when I’ve been too long between play days, I’m a stressed out parent.  I’m not as patient and understanding as I should be.  Just as children need play to work through their stresses and learn how to deal with life, we adults still need play for the same reason.  Liam and I connect far better when I can set aside my to-do list and draw with him or play soccer.  Quite frequently, the answer to the tantrum is to play tag.  He needs the endorphins from the run, just as much as I do!  And never, ever underestimate the power of building a train track masterpiece not only for the sake of your child, but for your own mental health!

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:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon September 13 with all the carnival links.)

2 Replies to “Dance Party Parenting”

  1. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful information specially the last section 🙂 I maintain such information much. I used to be seeking this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  2. Thanks for this great review. Dionna just mdeormcneed this book to me and, after reading this post, I’m heading to the library today to see if they have it or if I can request it. I looks like just what I need to get me going on the road to playful parenting.(Oh, and I’m like you – I never get time to read! I end up extending my checked-out books for as long as the library will let me because I can’t finish in their 3-week time limit!)

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