Give your child your best

Vickie Jones, N.C. Cooperative Extension
Aug. 31, 2013 @ 10:37 PM


To give your infant or toddler your best, you have to be at your best. Making time for yourself is healthy for you and your child. When you nurture yourself, you feel better, calmer, more energetic, and creative. You’re more fun to be with, and you’re a better parent.

A good way to take care of yourself is to make sure you are getting enough rest. If you are tired all the time, your health and creativity suffer and you’re more likely to be forgetful, short-tempered and make mistakes and poor decisions.

When your schedule allows, take naps. Taking a nap while baby sleeps or taking turns with another adult for night feedings are ways to make up for lost sleep. If you are a working parent, get extra rest when time permits.

Developing a sleep schedule for your child, yourself, and other family members can also help. A sleep schedule provides a predictable routine and makes children feel secure. Plan enjoyable routines leading up to bedtime, such as bathing, story reading, or other calming activities.

Along with rest, eat healthy foods that appeal to you. Nutritious foods, eaten in moderate amounts, help you to be strong and energetic. Stay away from harmful influences such as smoking, excess alcohol, drugs, and negative influences such as violence on television that includes hitting, yelling and putting down other people.

Sometimes parenting can be lonely and confusing. You need people around you who understand you and are helpful. Find one or more individuals you like and trust. Share with them your thoughts and feelings, your struggles and joys.

Choose to see the positive in your child, in life, and in other people. Make cheerfulness and optimism a habit, and welcome challenges as opportunities for learning and growing.

Let your infant or toddler teach you about play

Babies and toddlers love to play with their parents. Get down on the floor and play together in ways that are appropriate and fun. This is her time. Look into her eyes, and smile. Follow her lead on what you think she wants to do. You may wind up playing in ways you would have never expected. Laugh and enjoy yourself!

With your playful attention, even for a short time each day, you can help build your child’s self-confidence, strong brain functioning, and ability to get along with others—skills that will ensure your child’s success in school and throughout life. Your time and love will make all the difference in the world.

We all need time for ourselves--time for recharging our batteries and nourishing our souls. We need time for doing what brings us peace and joy, time for personal reflection and enrichment. If you are at your best, you are more likely to better parent your child.