Schuyler Waynforth, March, 2012
Sit still with them. And when they are still, sit still with yourself. Don't use so many moments of the day to do anything. Find ways to eat more, to get more calories in, with two little ones I found I was letting myself get hungry and tired too often.

Look for ways to connect with them. There are biological ways. Smelling their heads is amazingly connective. At 11 and 14 it still works for me, but when they still had that new baby smell, that mussy, sweaty, sleepy, milky head smell, it switched massive switches for me. Look at them. Watch them talk or move or bounce or roll or whatever it is they are doing and marvel at the fact that they are.

Sometimes it's hard, just staying still, just watching, just being with babies. But it won't be long—although if you are with them all that time, you get it to be longer than parents who don't make those choices, or have the ability to make those choices—until nine months is a year and three years is four. Time passes, they grow and they change and they move on in their interests and abilities. And you get lots more time to yourself.

In the hard moments, in the moments when you feel like you've been around babies and toddlers for too long, stop thinking that. Literally, come up with something else to think about. Think about a bird that flew by the window, or the way the light plays in your child's hair, or that noise that you can hear, where it could it be coming from? anything. Think about anything but frustration and get up and go make yourself a smoothie or maybe find a DVD to watch or do a mad dash around the house, upstairs, downstairs, in the bathroom and all the rooms with your giggling three year old along and your nine month old in your arms and when you are done fall on the couch or the bed and feel better. Watch that moment pass into a different moment.

original (first comment there)

Gently, Peacefully...

Jenny Cyphers wrote:

If a frustrated child is frustrating you, then find ways to eliminate things that frustrate your child. Go more slowly, be more patient in each and every interaction. When she's screaming, sit down next to her, start picking up toys and playing with them. Most little ones are easily distracted by new things.

Even if she's frustrated by something that she can't verbalize and you can't figure out, pulling a shiny new something or other out and playing will win out, in the moment. Once both of you are more calm, it's possible that you might be able to communicate with each other more easily. She might be able to get across to you what she wants or you might be able to tune in better to understand what she wants, or a little of both.

What I know for sure is that a sad or angry moment turned into a happy and playful one will always be better.

—Jenny Cyphers
November 1, 2012 in a discussion on facebook

In a February 2014 discussion of disadvantages of putting a child in a Sudbury school (as compared to unshooling) some nice things were written:

Caren Knox:

I've found a BIG part of the parent-child bond is being here, being together, and getting to know my kids. As much as I could make their lives sweet and filled with ease when they were home if they did attend a Sudbury School, the knowing them from meeting their needs on a daily basis either wouldn't have occurred, or would have occurred much more slowly.

I don't think I could have learned to be as generous with my sons if they were going somewhere 5 days a week. Well, I KNOW I wouldn't have—my oldest son went through 2nd grade at a charter school. The ONLY way I've learned how to be a more present, more caring, generous partner with my kids was by being with them, trying on choices closer and closer to radical unschooling, learning from those choices, then choosing again, better, each time (most times).

Growing as a parent sometimes took all I had! If I had known, "Well, school starts next month..." I'm not sure I would have put in the effort to grow as much as I have. I hate saying that, I'd love to think I would have given my all, no matter what, but there's something about knowing I'm creating their environment ALL of the time, that helped me take responsibility for that—our home environment, learning, connection.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** If I had known, "Well, school starts next month..." I'm not sure I would have put in the effort to grow as much as I have. I hate saying that ... ***

It's GOOD, useful, helpful to recognize that making it easier to put up with a situation you're struggling with makes it easier to avoid the hard work needed to change yourself and the situation.

That's why it's so much more helpful in the long run to learn to recharge by being with your kids than to keep focusing on ways to get breaks from them.

That's why when a struggling mom gets support for being a "good mom" it can leech away some of the drive to do better.

The harder something is, the more motivated we are to keep pouring the energy in to change it. The easier it gets to put up with, the easier it is to direct that energy to the 100 other things that need attending to.

An Invitation to Bonding

Sandra Dodd:

Maybe it’s not physical need, but intellectual need. Boredom is a desire for input that unschooling parents should welcome. It’s a child saying “How can I add excitement to my life?” This can be a big opportunity to introduce a new subject, activity, or thought-collection.

Maybe it’s an emotional need, and the parent’s undivided attention for a little while will solve the problem. A walk, some joking, a hug, inquiries about progress on the child’s projects or plans or friends might serve many purposes at once. If after a walk and a talk the child is not quite refreshed, you still had that time together, which made “I’m bored” a useful invitation to bonding.

Family Bonding, podcast (with Transcript), Amy Childs interviews Sandra Dodd



Being your Child's Partner