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The Truth About Milestones

parenting advice
I’m at a kid’s party. Lot of mums are there. Mums with babies. In slings. In their arms. Sitting at their feet on the floor. I make my way over and say hi to one of them. Gush over their baby a little bit and tell them how cute they are. I ask how old their baby is. And the flood gates open up. “They’re 9 months old, but they look older because they’re on the 90th percentile for weight. They should be crawling by now but they just can’t seem to get it. What age did yours crawl by?” I look at her like a deer in the headlights. I can’t remember.

My sons are 6 and 8 years old. I can’t remember when they crawled. I know they both walked at 12 months. They talked at different times. Rolled at different times. Sat up at different times. One slept through the night and the other one NEVER has. Both natural births at 38 weeks. Both breastfed. One came out of me talking and the other one took aaaaages. One had a dummy and the other one refused, no matter how much I begged him.

I was totally consumed with every milestone of my sons’ infancy and toddlerhood. I knew where they sat on the spectrum of development at any time and furtively watched other kids their age at parks and parties and kindergym. Comparing. Sometimes quietly smug that my kid was doing so much better than the others. Sometimes aghast that everyone else’s kid was doing so much better than mine. It’s a terrible stressful time during which I judged my own performance as a parent by the weekly and sometimes daily [‘cause it happens that quickly when they’re babies] achievements of my kids. I remember the time but I don’t remember the details and I don’t remember the details because, here’s the thing… THEY. DON’T. MATTER.

Don’t get me wrong. Milestones are important for broad monitoring of whether or not there is an underlying learning disability or developmental delay for your baby. And if your child is repeatedly not reaching any of them and you have a feeling in your gut that something’s not right, take them to your GP or paediatrician or Child & Youth Health. But guess what? If your kid is just not keeping up here and there with the mothers’ group kids, it’s ok. And I say ‘it’s ok’ because I know that to be true.

Dear new mum, all that stuff that’s consuming you is not going to matter once your little one is in school. I don’t expect you to listen to me, I certainly didn’t when other mums told me, but it’s my duty to tell you nonetheless.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Trust your instincts and if they’re a bit fuzzy, DON’T turn to the kids you see in the playground to measure your child[ren] by. Every kid truly is different and let me tell you why. It’s because every mum is different.

So little Johnny didn’t roll at the same time as little Sammy. How important do you really think that’s going to be when they’re in the class room together? Little Kylie could count months earlier than little Sophie but that doesn’t mean she’s going to be a maths whiz in grade 5.

I know this all to be true but I still have to give myself this same advice even today. Drawing on what I know from my time as a mum to babies and toddlers I have to stop myself when I become obsessed with whether or not my child is at the same level as everyone else right now. I tell myself to take a step back and not get caught up in the school mum hype. It’s not easy but luckily I have friends with kids who are older than mine and they keep it real for me too. It’s a vicious cycle of self-doubt, comparison and judging but take it from me it’s not the stuff that matters.

The stuff that I DO remember involves a warm baby’s head nuzzling in my neck. I remember the feeling of joy I had when my boys took their first steps. I remember the sweetness in my heart when I heard them first say ‘Mum’. I remember the laugh in my belly when I first saw them clap their hands. I remember love.

But milestones? Sorry. No idea.

How to keep toddlers and pre-schoolers busy while you work!

As a mumpreneur, being able to have the flexibility to work from home while spending quality time with my kids is great, though when it comes to actually getting any work done during the day, well that can be a bit more of a challenge.

So how do you keep toddlers and pre-schoolers entertained so you can you get through your work, meet deadlines, make calls and an income? Here are six different types of play that can keep your kids busy and buy you some time to get things done.

1. Imaginative play 
Kids love to pretend and role play, and they can be absorbed in their little stories sometimes for hours – giving you a chance to get things done. So to help their little imaginations run wild, keep a box of imaginative play ideas that are themed around things they enjoy.

There are hundreds of ideas that can keep them busy and entertained from astronauts exploring space, pirates sailing the seas hunting for treasure, a jungle safari or superheroes, to mermaids in an underwater garden, fairies in an enchanted forest, tea parties, teddy bear picnics or a business owner running their own mini office.

To make their play even more real and exciting help them with outfits and props, like a big box for a rocket, washing basket with a broom mast and pillow case flag for a pirate ship, or a desk or small table complete with filing trays, paper, pens and envelopes for their office. Whatever the idea is though, you want to make sure it is suited to their age group and easy for them to keep playing independently of you.

2. Adventurous play 
One of the best ways to keep kids busy is to keep their play different and exciting. So appeal to their adventurous spirit by having some more active play activities to break up their usual play routine and hold their attention.

Set up a treasure hunt (inside or outside) where they have to find certain objects, help them build a cubby or fort to play in, set-up a ball pit, or an obstacle course (inside or outside) that they have to navigate through – or just play with for younger ones.

3. Quiet play
When you work from home there are times when you need absolute silence, like when you have to make a client call for instance. Though having a one-year-old and three-year-old, you can imagine how many times it is quiet in this house!

Thankfully though there are some activities that can keep them a little quieter while still keeping them busy. Puzzles (large floor puzzles are great – especially if there is a younger sibling who will put small pieces in their mouth), mazes, memory, look-and-find books and shape sorters are all great for keeping little ones occupied, developing their problem solving skills and lowering the noise level.

4. Messy Play 
They love it and we hate it for the extra mess, though give them permission to get a little dirty, and they will play for ages. Kids just love playing with messy, slimy and squishy things and can have so much fun doing it. Some ideas include painting, digging in dirt or sand, Play Doh, making mud pies and playing with jelly.

While the intention is for your kids to play independently, keep in mind that messy activities normally require closer supervision so you will want to work close by – just not in the firing line!

5. Outside play 
Coming into the summer months it’s great to have your work portable whether it is by laptop, tablet PC or smart phone, so you can set up under the back pergola and let the kids run off some energy outside while you get some work done.

Sprinklers, kiddie pools, sandpits, bubbles, drawing on cement with chalk, balls and other outdoor toys can produce hours of fun and wear them so they will have a nap or at least sleep well that night.

6. Out-and-about play 
Sometimes kids need a change of scenery and a break from the usual routine that’s why making your work portable is a must for your own productivity. If they are particularly fussy, unsettled or overly energetic a trip to the park, library or an indoor play centre can be a lifesaver.

What activities keep your kids busy and give you a chance to get work done?

About Amanda

Amanda Jesnoewski is the owner of Velocity Media + Communications and a copywriter and marketing strategist. As a mumpreneur with two small children, Amanda juggles an iPhone and a nappy bag, clients and a toddler, a laptop and a baby, telephones and tantrums daily and writes about at her blog Adventures and Misadventures of a Mummypreneur.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mummypreneur
Twitter: www.twitter.com/mummypreneurs
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/mummypreneur

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