The care and replenishment of a parent’s energy

Posted under Practical Advice


An overview of the ages and stages of children, plus the need to replenish ourselves as parents. 

Conference notes 2011.
Renate Long-Breipohl gave a description of a 2 1/2 year old as being ”totally sympathetic with their own deeds”.
I couldn’t help laugh a little at this.  It seems my teenager is experiencing a return to toddlerhood!  Now, there is an explanation I hadn’t thought of.
 Renate gave a comprehensive picture of how the adult (teacher or parent) can work with a particular stage to help the child to transcend the stage successfully.  These tips might also help the adult to emerge from a particular stage unscathed!
For example, when living and working alongside a toddler, we can shape and mould their ‘will’ (their desire to do something) by using the weight of our and their imagination.

“Imagination helps a child to move with the teacher.

It compels them to move their own will”

In simple terms, we must make them believe that the task is fun and talk to them in a creative way that encourages their participation.
She suggests that to do something imaginatively, we must be truly IN the task with the child.  Our will to complete a task can help to ‘lift up’ their will.  Also, when we ‘work’ in a task, we give them an unconscious model of how they can direct themselves.  We can make a strong impact on the child just by going about our daily tasks with purpose.
From 0- 2 1/2, the most important thing for the adult to do is to self educate so ‘we have the power to deal with their powers’.  We must strive to accept their wilful power as something innate and wondrous, and work with it in such a way that we still manage to stay in charge!
Renate continues that from around 2 1/2 to 3 years, the child’s DESIRE nature begins, and the wishes and wants of the child play an enormous part of the toddler’s life.
Don’t we know it?
We have to remember that desire is not negative.  What it indicates is that the child’s consciousness is changing.  When the child feels desire, and wants to place themselves into a task without a suggestion, this leads to ‘engagement’.
Our challenge as I see it, as teachers and parents, is to help slightly older children to have the fortitude
 to activate their own will to do something at any time, even when their desire may not be there to entice them along.
This is a lifelong test of our wits.  Don’t you think??
Renate suggested that our main task in raising and teaching young children is to help them to develop INTEREST in the world around them.  Recalling that young children (toddlers especially) tend to focus inward, we learn that we can spark their interest by metaphorically swivelling them around to face outwards.
Interest is desire turned outwards

The task of the young child is to play, and through play, make sense of the world they live in.  All children have plenty of ideas of what to do in play, but some children, especially 5 and 6 year olds lack the capacity to turn their ideas into something concrete.   Play is at first an acting out of something from their memory bank of picture images they have gathered during their lifetime,  brought down into movement and action.  But sometimes children seem to forget what to do.
We can help in moments like this by leading children through this time with practical picture-making activity.  To take them for a walk outside, pointing out objects of interest as we go along such as a new flower bud or a busy caterpillar or a fungus hiding in the crook of a tree.  We can plant a new garden bed in preparation for the spring,  or strive to take an active interest in others by visiting old people’s homes, or the primary school playground during lunch or to help Grandpa wash his car.
All these things, suggests Renate, help children to ‘step out of their self-centredness’.
She says that if we can grab hold of those things we know they like to do, like stirring the porridge for breakfast, or crushing up the biscuits for a cheesecake base, it can spark a flame of interest in them and give the children an opportunity to learn what truly enthuses them.

In a world where more and more children are being diagnosed or described as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) , ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or on the Autistic Spectrum, we must truly provide for and encourage interest and engagement in something tangible.

Later, in our conversation groups, we discussed the big demands that young children place upon our energy and vitality.  All parents know (as do kindergarten teachers) of how exhausted one can feel at the end of a day when it seems like you haven’t really done much at all!
Replenishment of this energy source then becomes a must if we are to have the stamina to continue on with our honourable task of raising “littlies”.
The group proposed two remedies for this task.

The first (prevention) being to ensure that the things that we primarily deal with in our days are as healthy as possible.

  • to take care to prepare and ingest really really good quality food;
  • to ensure a balanced intake for nutrition
  • to make sure each family has a support structure in place, a village of sorts, to love and care for and treasure the children too
  • to limit (and possibly guard against) negative or damaging input such as gossip, useless banter or  wasting time on too much television
  • to strive daily to feel and note a measure of gratitude for life
The second was to take time out to rebuild and replenish our energy
  • to practice sports or activities that provide nourishment, respite or rejuvenation such as yoga, tai chi, pilates, swimming or social tennis;
  • to find ways to take time out- swapping childcare with another trusted mama friend or family member
  • to find time to be in nature regularly- to walk on the beach or in the forest, to be near running water or visit the mountains for a dose of fresh hilltop air
How do you keep yourself ‘topped up’??
What do you do to build up your energy reserves???

5 Responses to “The care and replenishment of a parent’s energy”

  1. Domestic Artisan

    I’m really enjoying reading your posts from the conference, they give me much food for thought. We go for a walk every day, usually around the same time, come rain or shine. I find no matter how “good” or “bad” a day has been I look forward to going outside and just being. I love as my little one is growing up she’ll often put her hand up indicating to me that she’d rather go outside. I’m also finding time for me to craft, usually only small amounts but it is both relaxing and challenging as I am learning new skills. I agree with your groups list including diet and negative energies; nothing boosts me more than fresh wholesome food and nothing depletes my engery than idle gossip or negative talk. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Amber Greene

    Yeah! Outside is the go, isn’t it. I often combine crafting and outside time together! This satisfies my go-go nature whilst tending to the needs of my little one Ned. All you need is a little basket (an old cane sewing basket is tops as you can shut it quickly if you need to dash off and prevent little fingers going places they shouldn’t be!) filled with a few small projects, a needle and a few threads. Happy crafting!!

  3. Magic By Mum

    Thanks for sharing that Amber, it was re-energising to read. Must have been motivating to hear! Its always good to take a step back and refresh your mindset, especially with a two year old :) I think for Bella, her DESIRE has kicked in early because her WILL is so strong! She gets that from me. But it was great to read this – and I think it will stay with me – that INTEREST is desire turned outwards. Very valuable.

  4. Nina

    really like this. was just talking about this with a group of people. the coordinator talked about things that fill up your resovoir (sp?) and things that deplete it…

    for me things that fill it up are:
    music, time alone, creating art, time alone, reading, good movies, time alone, journaling, time alone. ;) good healthy food, seeing the beauty in the world around me.

    I knew going into parenting I’d never be alone again…or very infrequently so I carve it out when I can. when I’m in the car alone I often just have silence. I do things like journaling so even if I’m with people I am alone in my mind, if that makes sense. I try to do activities with my son that he enjoys – crowds of people and such – but where I am really not being bothered by people or having to expend my energy – art festivals, fairs, etc.

    hiking, being outside, making crafts.

    sometimes just wondering around a store without my son clamouring for me to buy him something :)

  5. Amber Greene

    Yeah, Nat. It is so funny sometimes to look at our children and see just how they are a chip off the old block. I see Henri and her teenage rebelliousness and I laugh when I realise I was just the same! Although i’d love to think Ned’s cruisy nature is because of me (ha ha!) I only have to be reminded of my creative hyperactive nature as a child to realise he really takes after his dad! Nina, thank you for your input. Some great rechargers there. I love ‘filling up’ at art fairs and festivals with my kin too. And glorious indian food, mango lassi, baklava anytime i’m out and about. And I totally agree with walking around a store alone!!!! That is a definite refresher!!

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