How’s it going? Sounds like a joke, right?

This time is great for your kid – because YOU finally have the chance to really focus on your habits – to work on getting used to creating a mental learning environment for your baby that will give them lifelong “Mental Wealth” skills.

I’m a coach. I’m going to push you, to help you – not just to get through the next hour (happy to help with that) but also to help you set your kids up for the rest of their life.

The Opportunity Here

In our Strong StartTM program, the big challenge is getting parents to slow down, to focus, and to get into the baby’s mental world.  These days of social distancing are the perfect time to work on building those strengths (at the very least, it beats worrying!). If you turn off your phone and notice what you say, do, think and feel, you can use this time to work on your habits – habits that will build off each other as your child’s growth builds off itself – resulting in a better, easier parenting experience, and lifelong advantages for your child.

Things to work on while you’re enjoying “quality time” at home:

See yourself.

Your kid is always reading you. What is your tone of voice and body language saying? What are they learning from watching you and your partner interact?  Most communication is nonverbal: are you saying “tense and fearful?” or “Relaxed, Curious, and Slightly Bemused?”

Slow down!

Parents tend to go way too fast. But now … no one is going anywhere. Kids think slowly – give them some time to understand what’s going on. Wait for their response.

Baby playing with kitchen spoons and bowls

Space for them.

Like all people, babies need their own time and space – and  breaks from stimulation. So separate, even within your little apartment. You don’t need to entertain. Make a “Yes Space” (What and Why) where they can play or explore or stare into space, free from adult interruption.

“Play Objects” – good and bad.

No toys with batteries/screens/recorded sounds. Don’t do it. The best toys, the ones with the most truth, interest and play in them are passive and have multiple uses – think balls, blocks, colanders. Raid the recycling bin: cardboard box, clean empty food containers (with things in them to make noise!), crumpled paper.

Setting up “the field of play”.

You want a blend of “little finger stuff” and “Big Body Stuff” – things to sort, and things to crawl through and knock over. Get in there with them, down at eye level – see how cool it is – and when it’s lame. Put the phone away, and get out the laundry basket. Remember sensory play – things that have a feel, a smell, a sound. (Love hair curlers!)

Child playing with ordinary household objects

Your baby is a porta-gym (Stay Strong).

There are fun ways to play together that give you some exercise. Physical Strength, especially core strength, is easy to work on when you are with your baby – and it will help you feel good and stand up straight when you are presenting that father’s presence. Planks, Push ups, crunches, baby-curls:  lift the baby slow and with control – do not bounce, or drop.

Young kid learning exercise from father

While baby naps.

Take care of yourself – take care of your partner – take care of the kitchen – watch your favorite hand-washing videos – take care of business – or sleep.

Father and baby napping

Don’t worry.

You can be there for your baby by noticing what they are doing without freaking out or hovering over them. They’re gonna have good times and bad times, too – welcome their feelings – talk about feelings. Do care as a partnership, be there when they need you, otherwise, leave them alone. You don’t have to entertain them – just read with them, go back and forth. Let them entertain you (but don’t ask them to).

Father reading to son

Taste the Freedom.

They are not “trapped.” As far as your kid, you are not “trapped” either. Instead, you are free to enter their world. If you can get to their eye level, slow down, give them space to respond … if you can let it not be about You when you are together … you’ve done a good thing for you kid today, and for their future.

Golf, anyone?

It’s a great time to connect – in the simple slow fascinating world they live in. You’re stuck at home – so show up, pay attention, and have fun – that’s what you can do for your kid, and their future.

Have fun!