Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sign Us Up: Sometimes a Full Schedule Can Mean More Time For Each Other

As working parents, the time we have to be physically present for our daughter is limited five days a week. Cosleeping affords us additional hours of closeness, but we’re unconscious for at least a few of those. Eric enjoys breakfast with her every morning, and I arrive at work later than I might otherwise like to most days because I’m having too much fun with her and her friends at daycare. But evenings offer us our best opportunity to spend quality time together. As October – Attachment Parenting Month – approached, I gave a lot of thought to the theme of “giving our children presence,” and wondered whether I was truly taking advantage of the hours I had with Violet after work . We did spend that time together, and I made sure some of it was spent giving her all of my attention, whether we read books, went for a walk, or played with the cat. But it was also easy to be distracted by housework, errands, and other chores, and as I reflected on the previous weeks, I realized I was spending almost as much time each night with an armload of laundry - Violet toddling behind me snagging the stray socks - as I was with my daughter in my arms . Time to refocus.

Eric and I had taken her to swimming lessons last spring, something we’d all loved. The program we’d previously attended no longer offered evening sessions, so I tracked down a new class at the local Y that was scheduled to start October 6. Perfect! Last Monday at 6:35, we were back in the water.

Violet took to it as quickly as she had the first time, all smiles even as the instructor cavorted between her and the other baby in attendance, splashing them in equal measure to get them accustomed to the aquatic environment. During our lessons six months ago, we worked primarily on teaching her to float on her back; this round has started out much more playfully, and we're having a blast with it. She's reaching for fun things floating around her, kicking her feet, riding around the pool on my chest, and holding on to the kickboard as I propel her through the water. On Monday, she even made her first trip down the slide!

We were having so much fun with swimming lessons, I figured why stop there? I'd been interested in checking out Mommy and Me yoga classes for a while, and now seemed like as good a time as any to give it a try. As luck would have it, the class I hoped to get into was starting this week. Scheduled for Tuesday nights, it fit neatly between our Monday and Wednesday trips to the pool, so I signed us up.

I can't say that I got much of a workout out of our first yoga class last night, but what I did get out of it was another hour of awesome interaction with my daughter. Some of the class was intended for mamas and babies together - we tried out several poses that incorporated our kids, and devoted time toward the end to baby massage. The rest of the yoga routine was more mama centered - though each of us sat back through parts of it to nurse our little ones. While we were participating, the kids were free to run around and check out each other as well as the toys we'd brought to satisfy their fleeting attention spans. Violet also enjoyed sitting beside me and imitating me: watching as I interlaced my fingers and stretched my arms upward, and then reaching her own arms high above her head. The conclusion of class called for us to lie on our mats, completely relaxed. Violet contributed by clambering on top of me to give me a kiss. I don't know about relaxation, but it sure felt good.

October has turned out to be a very busy month for us, but being busy isn't always a bad thing. In this instance, it's helped us to make sure we dedicate more of our time and ourselves to engaging our little girl, not just keeping her occupied. I don't know if we'll stick with such a packed schedule, but I hope that what we're doing now will serve as a valuable reminder even after classes are over to put everything else aside, at least some of the time, to focus entirely on spending time together. And when it's this much fun, why wouldn't we?

No comments: