Give them time to dine
April 16, 2021
Don’t Rush, Slow Down. Quality is better than Quick.
It is so tempting to pack our weekends full for our whānau. But after a full week, a full-on weekend can leave everyone feeling rattled rather than revitalised and ready for the week ahead. If we resist the need to rush around, we can put some rest on the agenda, and slow things right down.
The fast pace is usually well intentioned. We want our children to have wide experiences, or we try to meet multiple needs by sandwiching our errands with child- friendly activities: a quick trip to the park in between the supermarket and visiting relatives for example. To fit it all in, however, we only afford each activity a short burst of time. Sometimes this will happen, of course, during a particularly busy season, but if it’s the norm then our tamariki get used to these short bursts. They accept and expect this pace of life and are less likely to get fully engaged in each of the settings or play spaces. They’ll sense in their body that it won’t be long before they are on to the next place or thing. It is like a ‘tasting plate’ experience. If we provide longer time frames, we offer the chance for a slower dining experience. They can get comfy, settle themselves, and savour what’s on offer.
Another reason we may short burst our children is because we take them somewhere and find they do not engage as much as we imagined. They flit, wander, and show no obvious signs of joy. It seems to make sense to move on and try somewhere or something else. But what we haven’t allowed for is the fact that most of the time tamariki don’t engage instantly but need a little time to ‘scan the menu’. If we can hold off, wait, and not feel uncomfortable with their unsettledness, we usually find something remarkable happens. It may even take as long as 40 minutes, but if
allowed the pace and space, tamariki will suddenly click into real play. We can almost see them sink into the setting; they are focused, happy and can stay busy for a long time after. It’s wonderful to witness and wonderful for them to experience.
We perhaps cannot slow our entire lifestyle but choosing to slow just some of our weekend will be freeing and refreshing. This can be at an away setting, but it is just as amazing to offer at home. If children know they won’t just be racing out the door and into the car again soon, they can stretch their ‘play wings’, really engaging with what’s in their own environment. Many of us have (even accidentally) picked up society’s message that we must fill our children’s time, but for them to be able to fill their own time is empowering for them and liberating for us. Slowing down gives them that opportunity— what a gift that is!
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