Monday, July 30, 2012

Independence {Mindful Mothering Mondays}

So many of the blogs and books I read focus on being mindful with our children.  Enjoying the good moments and the crazy ones, too, for the gifts that they are.  Being present, rather than just being in the room with our little ones.

Today, though, I'm working through the realization that I may have been giving Moose too much mindfulness.  In case you missed it, he last few weeks together have been tough.  Really tough

I can't chop vegetables for dinner without screaming at my feet or destructive behavior in the adjacent room (which, the snide smile on Moose's face suggests, is designed solely to get my attention).  I've even been bitten on the rear!  I'm more behind than usual with some of my household tasks because every towel I fold gets unfolded; the window gets intentionally smeared the second I finish wiping it.  The words of the moment are "NO!" and "NOW!"

Some of that is age.  Arguably gender.  Definitely personality.  But here's the thing glaring me in the face: he doesn't act that way with anybody else.  Anybody.  Not his teacher at school.  Not Daddy Moose.  It's just me.

After roundtabling with mom friends, Daddy Moose, and even Moose's trusted and wonderful pediatrician (who happens to have two very spirited ones of her own), the general consensus seems to be that I need to back off.

Not ignore.  Not abandon.

But encourage independence.  (And encourage is the exact right word because Moose wants to be independent; if I had a dime for every time I heard the phrase "I do it myself!" . . . )  Which is what I wanted all along, but somewhere, along the way stifled without intending or even realizing.

I am entering somewhat uncharted waters.  On Friday, I explained that, after we did the singing and dancing Moose asked for, I needed to get some work done in the kitchen and that he could help or he could play.  On Saturday I sorted old baby clothes while Moose ran around upstairs with his toy shopping cart. 

In the absence of a model to follow (Do you have one to share?), I'm loosely following a 30 min/30 min schedule of time spent actively engaging together/independent time. 

It is hard work, not devoting all my attention to the Moose.  And exhausting.  But it's worth a try, and all I can do is cross my fingers and hope he and I both come out the other side better for it!

Joining Lydia again for Monday mothering inspiration!


  1. I think mindful mothering is knowing when to involve yourself and when to require them to work on something alone. I'm not sure how old Moose is, but my 3 year old is in a tricky time right now. I feel like I cannot let him out of my sight! Giving him tasks to do along side me helps keep him occupied while letting him feel the independence that he craves so much. Still, it is a daily battle. Blessings to you!

    1. Lydia - thanks so much for your encouragement!

      Moose is 2.5 and his desire for independence doesn't always match his capabilities. However, I need to learn to let him try more! In the same vein, loved your Thursday post on letting the kids help pack!

  2. It is such a fine line isn't it? My son has definitely been doing negative things to get my attention since the baby arrived; I've always encouraged him to play independently and he's pretty good at that, but he's taken to deliberately disobeying and taking his time at obeying when I make a request. He's always helped around the house, but at the beginning of the summer I officially started requiring him (he's 3 and a half) to do some chores--unload the silverware from the dishwasher, make his bed, help clear the table after meals, wipe the table off, water plants, etc. We're still definitely working on the obeying problems, but he is jumping in to help a lot more on his own, and gaining great satisfaction from it. I've also been trying to nail down a couple of "touch points" other than meal times during the day where I focus solely on doing something with him--drawing, reading, playing outside, etc. I think one of the best ways though, is to involve them (as Lydia said above) with what you're doing. Also, it might be helpful when he deliberately does something to "hurt" you--i.e. the biting or unfolding of towels--that you hold him accountable for making amends. For example having him re-fold the towels (either by himself or with your help) or re-wash the window before he can do something he wants to do.

    1. Your suggestion of carving out "touch points" is a great one! I'm glad it is working for you to defray the baby jealousy.

  3. I agree with Lydia, I think we have to know when to keep them close and when to let them be independent. I spend a lot of time with my little man (he will be 4 in November) but like you I have things that need to get done. I often ask if he would like to join me and help, or if he would like to continue playing. I also look for moments when he, on his own has began to play or get involved in something, and then I get busy doing a little something before he comes calling again :)

    This mothering thing is not easy. It sounds to me like you are on the right path, only time will tell. Hang in there.

    1. Kim - I took your words to heart today and suddenly found all kinds of moments (albeit short ones) when he'd wandered off to play on his own to start a task. He's so much more tolerant of Mommy "working" at something when he doesn't think he's been left - he prefers to be the leaver, not the leavee. Thank you so much for the encouragement!