This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Despite the growing "no kids" movement that has been receiving so much press, most people in my experience think little kids are cute. Happy children make other people smile. Family, friends, and often complete strangers are drawn to my son, wanting to coax a smile out of him. I've decided to encourage this. Here are a few ways Peter and I create joy.
* I ask him to wave to people. He loves this game. As I carry him around, he will spontaneously wave to almost anything that moves. When people smile and wave back, he often kicks his feet and waves with both hands. As you can imagine, this level of happiness is contagious.
* We stop to talk. Our world is in a hurry. There are many people who want nothing more than human interaction, but we are all so busy. Whenever possible, I stop walking when people approach to talk to Peter. They ask his name, how old he is, and compliment him on his blue eyes and having teeth. (I assume he'll eventually outgrow the teeth compliments...) Older people often share some information about their children or grandchildren. It doesn't take long, just a few minutes to brighten someone's day.
* We visit a nursing home. The Sisters of Mercy have a motherhouse near us, where retired nuns and priests can receive assisted living or nursing home care. Peter and I accompany my mom to Mass there once or twice a month. It's a win-win; we get to attend Mass and the residents get to see Peter.
* I take him with me. As a general rule, Peter goes where I go. Volunteering, grocery shopping, to the mall, to the library, he's there. He learns how to behave in different places and how to interact with a variety of people. When I take him shopping with me to the thrift store where my mom volunteers, his presence speaks volumes. The clients are often urban poor; Peter's presence declares that I think this is a safe place to bring him. Little things mean a lot.
* I hold him. I believe that Peter is confident meeting new people because he is never forced to do so. If he doesn't want someone new to hold him, it doesn't happen. If he wants to hide his face for a minute before engaging, that's OK. If he crawls back at high speed to nurse for 30 seconds before exploring more of the playground, he can do it. He is confident reaching out because he knows he always has a safe place to which he can return.
As we create joy for those around us, we are filled ourselves. Isn't it wonderful how that works?
(Speaking of sharing, stop by yesterday's post for your chance to win a gift card from Tiny Tush!)
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Family Draw Time Art Show — Kate Wicker shares art (and inspiration!) from her family's cherished tradition of family draw time.
- The Rules of Creativity: Learning to Create with the "Non-Creative" — Zoe at Give an Earthly shares how she learned to accept her "non-creative" child and claims that anyone, child or adult, can be creative given the right handling and environment.
- Creating With Kids: 4 Ways That Work For Us — See how Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings nurtures creativity with her kids through craft projects, outdoor creative play, celebrating the creative process, and setting up "little spaces of beauty."
- Creating memories, not things — Mrs. Green from Little Green Blog reflects on life with a ten year old and how 'creating together' has evolved from 'things' to memories.
- The Gift of Creation — It may be hot, but Kellie at Our Mindful Life is already thinking about winter.
- Hidden Talents — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how providing the opportunity for creativity sometimes means learning to look for hidden talents in unusual places.
- Creating Joy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she and her one year-old son create joy for their community.
- How to do Crafts with Kids — Gaby from Tmuffin guest posts at Natural Parents Network and describes how to keep things simple when doing crafts with kids for magical (easy-to-clean, and tantrum-free) results.
- Sugar & Spice & Baking on the Kitchen Floor — Carrie at Love Notes Mama enjoys making a mess in the kitchen with her daughter.
- Young Scientist Makes Purple Potion — Hannah at Wild Parenting loves being a lab assistant for the young scientist in her life.
- Making a butterfly house — Lauren at Hobo Mama demonstrates the proper way to build a wooden butterfly house with a preschooler.
- Nurturing Creativity — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares the enjoyment she feels in nurturing the creativity of her children.
- Home School Music - Sparking A New Generation Of Musicians — Based on her musical background, Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she creates with and teaches music to her children.
- Creating (im)perfectly Together — Mudpiemama shares some of the highlights of a summer spent building everything from ships to hoops but most of a lesson on letting go of perfection.
- Family Soccer Kick Around — When her children wanted to play soccer, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children helped organize something that would work for her family.
- Creating Memories Together on Skype — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how you can create memories online with adult children or anyone who lives in another city or country.
- We'll always have Halloween: Creating costumes for kids — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is not the craftiest mom on the block, but she does make a mean homemade Halloween costume.
- Let's Make Juice! — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment shares about the benefits of juicing with kids, as well as a quick recipe.
- Everything's Better When It's Homemade — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro praises the art of homemade goods.
- Creating the Opportunity for Art — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how her family has created an environment conducive to art.
- 10 Easy and Functional Crafts Preschoolers Can Do with Minimal Assistance — Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers ten easy crafts preschoolers can do while sitting near parents — but they don't need a lot of parental help. Added bonus: all of these ten ideas double as something functional (gifts, decor, educational).
- Creating with Kids: Singing Together — Ana at Pandamoly details the important role music takes in her household and provides a quick (and easy!) tutorial for creating fun songs to sing together!
- Create This — jessica at instead of institutions considers different aspects of creativity including those without an end product.
- Make Your Own Pocket Bib — A tutorial from Amy at Anktangle on how to make two simple and quick bibs to keep your little one clean at the table.
- Creating Together in the Kitchen — Despite not feeling "crafty," Momma Jorje finds a way to create and connect with her toddler.
- An Artist-Mama's Perspective — In this post, Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the differences between her choice of artistic outlet and her son's, and how they embrace those differences together.
- Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids.
- Getting creative with kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how much she enjoys watching her daughter getting creative.
- Creating with Children - The Nature/Seasonal Table — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama celebrates the rhythm of the natural world with her toddler through the creation of a seasonal nature table.
- How Involving My Kid Saves My Sanity — The Happy Hippie Homemaker explains how involving her toddler in projects allows her to get more done, while providing valuable opportunities to teach and to bond (added bonus: amazing oatmeal raisin cookie recipe!).
- In the Kitchen with Kids — Cooking with Real and Pretend Food — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle engages her kids in the kitchen with culinary creations of both real and pretend food.