Monthly Archives: September 2012

A child’s work is to play

This basic, simple truth has been at the core of every child’s development since time began. It is through their daily interactions with creative exploration that children learn, not only about their world but also their personal role in it. As mindful parents and caregivers the value of providing a safe, simple and nurturing play environment is our essential responsibility. This does not mean providing a plethora of toys to fill up empty spaces. Children love to explore and create and are quite capable of entertaining themselves if given the proper tools and setting.  They thrive in  calm, ordered spaces and the quantity of play materials does not outweigh the quality.  It has been a long standing observation that given a collection of toys or large boxes, children will most often gravitate to the large boxes. The empty space found within the set boundaries of the box provides free rein for their creativity to blossom.

As outcome focused adults, it is too often the case that we feel the need to orchestrate the type of play our children will engage in. Even though it is with every good intention, we actually rob our children of their all-important developmental need to make it up as they go along. Children learn every conceivable skill through their play. Testing themselves with constant repetition (what might seem mindless to adults) is essential as the concept of cause and effect is being explored. Basic math skills are learned by sorting sizes, shapes and colours. Concentration develops their patience for understanding more complex theories and engages them to think things through on their own. Children actually enjoy problem solving without always needing an adult to dictate the result.

Never underestimate the value of allowing your children to be left to their own devices to be creative. Be an observer. Pay close attention to ensure they are safe, but trust that they are capable of entertaining themselves and whatever the outcome of that moment, it is exactly what it is meant to be.


There are 1460 days from birth until 4 years old. Not much time really in comparison to  the remaining 25,915  days, if fortunate to live until 75 years of age.

These early days are considered the most important in the development of this unique individual, your child. Their foundation or  blueprint  is established during these years. What their personality will be, strengths, weaknesses and character traits; early interests; relationships and how to relate to the larger world; manners; healthy eating and sleeping habits; language skills; becoming comfortable in their body and self esteem; the ability to follow directions from others; a willingness to be open to learning; understanding structure and routine – all the essential building blocks are laid in this relatively short period of time.

My goal with the  Slow Parenting Movement, is to encourage and support parents and caregivers to fully understand the value of their input in the lives of these young children. Giving permission to enjoy and not rush through these early days, or treat them as inconsequential, is at the core of this mission.

Your influence upon your child’s early development is one of the greatest undertakings. It requires infinite patience and countless mindful choices and while at times, this might feel endless, never doubt how important your example is.

Children learn from us how to live in this world. When we become distracted by multi-tasking, texting, chatting on the phone, worrying about issues beyond our control, we lose valuable quality time with our little ones and indeed ourselves. Unwittingly, we are teaching our children that this behaviour is the norm. They will mirror our behaviour and respond to our signals.

I do understand the hardships of raising children today. As a single mother for most of my son’s life, I had to juggle many jobs and know only too well, how difficult the struggle can be. What James and I did remember, was for the time when we were together, we would be engaged and present, sharing space together, even in silence. We both knew that the other was there and we were paying attention. A question could be posed. A thought shared. We did not hover or need to orchestrate. Somehow we found a balance that brought us both peace.

Trust your instincts. You are capable. Give yourself credit for the hard work and sacrifices that you are dedicating to your family. Enjoy the quiet time between all the busy-ness of your days.

Treasure these  1460.

c   Jean Alice Rowcliffe   2012