Ryann has been more and more clingy lately. That was the first sign I needed to pay more attention. I feel our life has been such a constant state of flux lately that I almost didn't notice. She doesn't want to do anything. She doesn't help me cook or clean like she used to. She doesn't play by herself. She doesn't want to read books. She just is much of the time.
As I've been brainstorming ways to make our lives more dynamic, I ran across this old post from The Magic Onions that put all the pieces together for me. Ryann and I were struggling in the "let's have fun today!" department because I had forgotten that kids don't always know how to play or set up a game on their own. More importantly, I forgot that my first job as a mother is to help her with her work and not always focus on my own.
Of course Ryann and I play, this is not the issue in and of itself. We've gone on many safari's looking for animals in trouble. We've played the make-all-the-Yo-Gabba-Gabba-toys-sing-at-the-same-time game more times than I can count. We are often airplanes, flying through the living room. Or even, rarely, loving mothers to a collection of dolls. I understand the important part I play in these games, especially in a one child household, but I had somewhere along the way forgotten to give it reverence.
There is one part that stuck out to me the most though... it was:
Involve your children in your work – your real work where they can contribute and feel as if they played a vital role. Use singing, warmth, stories to draw your child in rather than commands to “help” which usually causes the child to run the other way!I obviously try to involve Ryann in my work, but she often resists it lately when I ask her to help. I don't tell her to help me. Just saying something as innocent as, "do you want to help me make cookies today?" can send the kid into hysterics and it made no sense to me! Who doesn't want to make cookies??? says my rational mind. I am a live and let live type of person, so I quickly stopped asking Ryann if she wanted to help and she definitely renewed some interest in things like laundry or randomly dumping ingredients into a batch of muffins. She still wasn't as focused on the work as she's been in the past though. I guess at some point I forgot to make it fun. How pleasantly simple.
In the admittedly short time I've been a mother, I've discovered any time you are at an impasse with your child it's your perspective that needs to change, not him or her. I'll forever be amazed at how much Ryann's behavior changes when I change my expectations. Of her or myself.