Learning To ‘Be’ From The Cradle Up: On The Desire To Constantly Entertain My Baby

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One of the elements that I have come to understand as essential to one’s personal growth—mental, spiritual, and emotional—is the ability to sit quietly and just be.  Of course nowadays, there is always something (or rather, a bunch of things!) that is clamouring for our attention, and so we are often left without a second to ourselves.

As I was watching my friends play with my daughter, it hit me that perhaps there is another reason why we are not able to just sit and be.  From the cradle, there seems to always be a need for those around a baby to constantly be in their face.  OK, that sounds bad, but you know what I mean—we are always talking to babies, singing to them, waving toys in their faces, always encouraging movement, and never just letting them be.

I was particularly struck by how there seems to be a conviction that a baby left alone is a baby that is neglected.  My daughter has had the capacity to play by herself from very early on.  And so, my husband and I have made a conscious effort to let her be when she is happily entertaining herself.  And yet, although she is fed, clean, and safe, those around us seem to be quite uncomfortable that we are leaving our baby to her own devices, convinced that good parenting means constantly entertaining her.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that we should leave our daughter to herself when she is perfectly content to do so.  Because the adults around her already have such a tough time creating a space in which they can be by themselves; isn’t it giving our daughter a leg up that, when she does find a space to just be, she knows how to fill it up with joy and wonder?

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11 thoughts on “Learning To ‘Be’ From The Cradle Up: On The Desire To Constantly Entertain My Baby

  1. I love this post. I often feel ‘uncomfortable’ leaving my son to entertain himself at times – even though he is quite happy and content to do so – due to this perception that we as adults should be constantly doing the entertaining for them. I want my son to grow up and be able to play independently. It is so funny how society’s ideas (or what we perceive to be society’s ideas, perhaps?) play such a role in what we think we should be doing as parents…. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You and I were meant to meet, Fi! For me, this discomfort seems related to the idea–completely false–that unless I am directly interacting with my baby, I am not taking care of her. But the funny thing is that I know that’s not true–quite the contrary, because she needs the time to figure things out, and, judging by the squeals of joy and grins of satisfaction, she loves it!

  2. You are completely right! Completely right.

    This is one lesson / skill I need to teach my children and I’m aware of needing to do so but I struggle with it myself.

    Tomorrow – tomorrow morning we are going to start with this together!

  3. I hear you! I used to feel guilty when leaving my kids to play by themselves, and sometimes I still do. But entertaining yourself—or just enjoying the moment—is a skill even babies can learn. If they’re happy, I’m happy to let them play alone (or with each other).

    1. Don’t feel guilty! Come online and spend time with me instead 😉 On a serious note, you mentioned being happy — I think that’s key… If we are letting the kids be because we want to not take care of them, that’s not kosher. But if we are letting the kids be because they are happy and content, learning things and enjoying the moment, then isn’t that great parenting?

  4. So true! I have three sons, and there is rarely a quiet moment in my house. But when there is, it’s amazing to see the boys focusing on whatever they’re focusing on — a book, a puzzle, building a domino trail to knock down, writing a story, etc. So much good comes from quiet time!

    1. There is something magical about loud playtime, and like you said, there is so much magic from quiet time — and you’re right, it is amazing to see what they are focusing on! I could use those moments to write or work, but oftentimes I end up just watching quietly and enjoying.

    1. Thank you Crystal, this comes as a huge compliment coming from a blogger such as yourself! Any posts on how you taught your children to entertain themselves that you could share here?

  5. I am so in your headspace with this. Our son was exactly like this from early on and we let him be. Now, we get home from work and expect the kids to hang out with us and they go off to play together and leave us to be! It is lovely but we almost feel bad that perhaps we should follow? But they don’t want us to. I think it is so important for kids to be happy with their own company. We all need to feel okay with that. I personally think it will pay long term for them to have this ability to be happy and content in their own company.

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