Sunday, 1 January 2017

Baobao's Activity Time: Parenting Resolutions 2017

It's that time of year again. We think about changing our lives and then inevitably give up by the end of January. According to a study at University College London it takes 66 days to form a habit. In order for this habit to take more easily, you have to specify what you will do and in what situation, trying to implement the new habit consistently. 

Keeping that in mind, some of these resolutions 

Reduce TV Time
Currently, I will often have the TV on as background noise. It's a habit I've had for years, after growing up in quite a noisy household. The AAP previously recommended that children under 2 should have no screen time whatsoever, and that children over 2 should only have two hours of screen time per day. Their currently recommendation is that more screentime is ok, as long as it is quality screen time where the adult interacts with the child. 

With Xiaobao arriving next year, I do want to limit the screen time we have at home. We would aim for around 2 hours or less a day. She currently will have CBeebies in the morning, allowing her Baba and me to get ready for the day and a DVD in the afternoon, as she really enjoys DVDs. Any other TV time is television I have chosen to watch. 

For that reason, outside of CBeebies in the morning and a DVD of her choice in her afternoon (possibly during one of Xiaobaos naps) I will play music during other times. This will successfully limit Xiaobao's TV time to less than Baobao.

Go outside every day (unless v ill)
To aid with the reduction of screen time, we will go out every day. I've really struggled with this recently. The blood test I had at 29 weeks showed that my iron levels were very low, but this wasn't actually shared with me until my 34 week midwife appointment. For the last few weeks, I can rarely leave the house two days in a row. If we go to a group on one day, the next day I am so worn out I can barely do anything.

Hopefully, once my iron levels are up, or Xiaobao arrives, we'll be able to increase our outdoor time. This would include groups on some days and trips to local parks on other days. I'm hoping for Baobao to be more in touch with nature, so a trip to our local forest at least once a month would be perfect. Due to nap times, all of our groups are in the morning, so we would make our trips to the park morning trips too. 

Daily Activity Time
Another way for us to reduce screen time, is to do a daily activity with Baobao. These activities would be related to different areas of the EYFS and would be loosely planned. 

Monday - Physical Development: fine motor skills, self care
Tuesday - Communication and Language: listening, understanding (who, what, where questions)
Wednesday - Literacy: nursery rhymes, filling in missing words, mark making
Thursday - Maths: counting rhymes, comparing quantities, counting objects, matching shapes, comparing size
Friday - Understanding the World: family photo activities, small world play, 
Weekend - Expressive Arts and Design: music play, building with blocks, art projects, dressing up and pretend play

These activities would come after Baobao's DVD time and although short, would offer her a structured activity, which she could then apply to her own play. It would also give me a tangible reason to switch off the television once the DVD had finished. 

Using Minority Language
This is a resolution that is incredibly close to my heart. We're a multilingual household, although that fact seems to be forgotten at times. My husband moved to the UK from China when he was 8 years old and speaks to his parents primarily in Mandarin. He is so used to speaking English at home, however, that he often finds it difficult to converse in Mandarin with Baobao at home.

There are so many benefits to Baobao growing up bilingual, that we really want to encourage it more this year. Even though, I spent 5 years living in Germany and have studied Korean, Japanese and Mandarin over the years, we have decided as a family to focus on Mandarin and English until she is old enough to learn a third language (probably German). This is because, aside from the benefits of just being bilingual, it also allows her to connect with her Chinese heritage. Plus if we normalise Mandarin use with Baobao now, it will also be normal for Xiaobao from birth.

Continuing a More Gentle Approach
I've been reading and attempting to apply gentle parenting techniques over the last year with Baobao. The Gentle Parenting Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith has been invaluable in this. As difficult as it may be, I hope to continue reading more into this approach and applying it to our life here with Baobao and later Xiaobao. 

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