Author Archives: fmswift

a new lens

What brings me a bit of peace these days is looking at my book shelf – and choosing one to pull out, hold in my hands, open and peruse, recall – read a section – sometimes seemingly like for the first time.

And you can actually make this happen also for  your children as they discover toys and books – old, but new.

But perhaps right now all the toys are contained neatly  together in clear plastic bins – or piled all on top of each other in the toy box, or scattered pell-mell in the corners of the playroom.

So,  I suggest that you purposely select something from this bunch and isolate one or two items while your child is napping or before you go to bed at night.

Choose something from this pile of toys and find a completely different spot to place it –  isolate it – near the fireplace on the living room floor, or cars lined up along the rim of the couch top, the farm and all its pieces in the sunny spot near the front door,  or under the dining room table.

Find a surprise spot – an unusual spot – to place it. – to set it up –  as a welcome invitation to your child – to be drawn in to the magic of discovery.

Trust me on this.  Your child will notice and begin to play – focused and engaged.

Because sometimes there’s just too much – and when there’s just too much, none of it seems special, none of it stands out, none of it calls you in.

I’ve done this when my children were growing up – and I often do it in the Playroom at The Parenting Place.

And so I know its value.

Let your child have the opportunity to encounter this “attraction” on their own – to come across it by themselves,  to be drawn into the novelty – yet familiarity – of it –  the satisfying comfort of the old enjoyed through a new lens.

Try it!

 

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memories

We all have memories from when we were young – some stronger and more poignant than other ones.

And it’s not that we remember every little thing – just the significant parts, the meaningful  parts – the funny, hilarious parts, the sad parts, the frightening parts.

And then there’s always the memory that just pops up out of nowhere – and we wonder aloud – why would I ever remember that?

So  our children, unaware, are busy collecting memories everyday – and in times like these, we wonder  – what will they remember about now?

For in spite of our limited mobility, our need to stay close to home, our social distancing, families are closer than ever – and memories are being made.

I’ve been reading a chapter or two from a book every day during the week on Face Time to my 5-year-old grandson, Theo. It’s such a meaningful time personally for me.  Sharing the adventures in a book with someone else creates a certain bond.

I’m hoping this might be one of Theo’s good memories.

When routines and connections are disrupted – and we are all figuring out our best selves to get us through – to flow from one settled peaceful mood to another mood of worries, stress, and uncertainty – all in one morning – is learning to live differently.

And we need to appreciate and be gentle with ourselves and our children in that this is new for all of us – and trust that the simplicity imposed on us will show us the way – to connect, to laugh, to feel, to imagine – even to be bored.

Yet making memories – like no other.

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harmony

A parent who I’ve met with several times emailed me recently how things were going with her six-year- old daughter.

“It feels good to say there is a specific time for that.”

And “that” for her has made all the difference. And “that” for her happened to be screen time.

Previous to this mom holding her ground – there was continual whining, yelling, tantrums and begging at any moment of the day. Both of them were worn-out and their relationship not very positive.

I believed this young girl was asking her mom to draw the line – begging her mom to draw the line for her – a line she could not manage on her own.

When mom decided that everyday at the same time, this young girl could have screen time, her daughter felt settled – the constant requests and bickering stopped.

And for the mom – she felt empowered by the realization – the thunderbolt she said – that sometimes kids need to know – want to know – that this adult in their life is in charge – in a firm, kind wise way.

This is so valuable to consider at this time of long days home with our children.  Sticking to a daily rhythm offers children a sense of well-being which helps regulate their emotions and peace of mind – as well as our own.

A child’s routine then becomes the palette that other choices and expectations are blended in – and – at times like this,  a home routine is particularly significant, particularly comforting.

Rhythm of the day – rhythm of your family.

Harmony.

If you have any concerns or questions about finding that rhythm in your family or any parenting questions, email me at franswift@theparentingplace.net and I will get back to you by email or by phone if you share your number.

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a new day

Corona kindness.

I just heard that expression at the end of our local newscast – and I like it.

Just as we are being told not to gather socially even with friends – just  as our schools have closed, our weekly activities canceled, large group gatherings not allowed – the words, Corona Kindness stuck with me.

Perhaps because that may be what gets us all through.

I guess when we think of kindness, we think of simple acts of thoughtfulness, of sharing, availability, patience, and love.

As parents, we are being called on to do overtime during this very uncertain and stressful time in our city and our country.

Before us lies a challenge for all of us-  facing many unknowns- caring for ourselves and each other, checking on our friends and neighbors, and drawing our children close.

And by these very acts, Corona kindness will thrive .

But I know already what many of you are thinking – help!

And so I offer also Corona Simplicity and the trust that this imposed simplicity will offer us all the clarity, the freedom, the opportunity to face these uncertain weeks ahead with a brave recharged commitment to “be” – simply, kindly, boldly, and safely.

 

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free choice

I’ve been keeping track.

Whenever I talk with a kindergartner about their favorite part of  their school day, it’s always the same.

Number one answer?

Free choice.

Why am I not surprised?

For don’t all of us enjoy those moments most  when, as adults, we are able to take a personal break – work in the garden, read a book, knit, strum the guitar, do a cross-word, listen to music, bake, chat with a friend.

It’s what engages us, what enriches our spirits, our relationships – what calms our souls.

And specific to our children, we know that free choice is the way children extend their learning by interacting  with materials and each other, working together, sharing ideas, building on skills, relaxing, having fun –  relating.

As parents, we need to be aware of the busy- sometimes hectic schedules our children have,  both at school and often after- school activities,  and make it a priority that there is time at home to offer free choice time.

When parents tell me free choice at home doesn’t seem to have the same appeal for their children, I always wonder why.

And something that I’ve noticed is that perhaps it’s not long enough, not regular enough, not relaxed enough.

Children slip into routines with ease and with acceptance – and when free choice becomes a priority in your home, it will take hold – and it will flourish.

Free choice – the number one answer every time!

 

 

 

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from there to here

“From there to here, from here to there

funny things are everywhere.”

Yes!  of course! It’s from Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seus!  And Happy Birthday on this yearly recognition of his birth.

And as schools and libraries across the nation have fun celebrating the delightfully rhythmic rhyming gems in his many many books – silly as well as often meaningful –    there is another message here.

Experts across the nation, strongly encourage reading to and with our children – from infancy on.

If there is one thing that wins in so many ways, that encourages literacy in our growing children, that creates a bond with one another, that shares intrigue, laughter, comfort, information, connection, a love for reading –  it is reading together.

And it’s free!

Libraries are open to all, and families that are frequent visitors, checking out books by the armfuls, are opening words and worlds for their children.

“from here to there”  –  the beauty and love of reading together!

Check it out!

 

 

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Halfway up the stairs

A.A. Milne says it perfectly in his poem Halfway  Down.

“Halfway up the stairs isn’t up – and it isn’t down.

It isn’t in the nursery, it isn’t in town.

And all sorts of funny thoughts run around my head.

It isn’t really anywhere!

It’s somewhere else instead!”

I have loved this poem since I was little – probably because I just might do some of my best thinking “halfway up the stairs“.

I like to think of it as moseying.  You know – wandering, thinking things through, discovering that this goes with that, discarding, dreaming, imagining, believing.

I think our children do this often also.  Ever catch them with a far-away look in their eye? Ever wonder why they seem not to be paying any attention?

For they have lots of things to put together – sometimes too much.  And sitting “halfway up the stairs” is a cozy place to be.

Of course we want and need our children to listen – to be responsible, to come when called, to be present – but sometimes – let’s make sure – we leave enough time for them to be“halfway up the stairs – it isn’t up – it isn’t down” but it feels just right.

Share the whole poem of A.A. Milne’s Half-Way Down with your children.  I bet they’ll understand.

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