'It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want — oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!'
— Mark Twain
Spring is the new season of beginnings. Fresh buds bloom, animals awaken and the earth seems to come to life again; bursting forth with the sun's energy. Nature is not the only thing blossoming during this special season! Your children are feeling this energy too, they are growing in their own ways. I have thought at times that it is just MY child acting out, testing boundaries and challenging my patience, until I am gently reminded that it is Spring. It is not just my little darling being presumptuous and feisty, this excitable energy is in the air. There are many moments of irritability and emotional outbursts, she is so easily pushed to tears this month. I find myself muttering under my breath, 'what's wrong now' and feeling as if we have regressed to three years old again. The whining, softly spoken in a baby voice is completely new and really has an interesting way of irritating me to my core. However, I grit my teeth, force out a soft smile and try to connect with her. My experience as a parent has taught me to know my daughter, to know when she is desperate for my attention or to recognize that maybe she is just over stimulated and needs some down time. If my energy is off, if I am strapped for time or stressed, she feels this. And what do you know, that is exactly when she starts seeking attention. Which we all know is a recipe for parenting disaster.
The clocks went forward this month to celebrate the start of Spring. For many of you this was a blessing, as so many little early risers started sleeping in late! A reason to jump for joy, or actually not jump at all but curl on down deeper between the bed sheets. For the rest of us this means later bed times. The days are getting longer, there is a need to test boundaries and a rich excitement for life which makes night time a whole lot less inviting. The importance of sleep during this period is monumental. They are growing, just like their little flower friends. Their minds are developing and waking up, just like their hibernating forrest friends. Their bodies are busy working hard, lots of clumsiness, falling and illness happens during spring. Maybe you have noticed signs of growing pains too, which again means more waking in the night and less sleep for them. This is when keeping to your routines is essential. So even though they are thrown off balance by the season, at home you are staying consistent, providing an environment which is familiar and comforting. Even at times when those boundaries are being pushed and the same rhythm seems completely out of sorts, our little ones are actually asking for it to be reinforced. Totally backwards, I know! Honestly it makes the transition more seamless and everyone walks through it faster and with less agitation. The best example I can share is from our experience with sleep training. I think we have all been here...
'You finally get it down and your babe is sleeping through the night. It has been two blissful weeks of peace. You are so gratefull for that process to be over and now you are all getting used to a new rhythm of sleep. Oh no, a tooth is coming in or your babe just caught a nasty cold. Now they are all up all night, congested, teething, crying, so in turn you are up all night. You have two paths to take at this time. You either try to stay with the new routine as best as you can during this short spell whilst attending to their poor little needs. Or you cave and bring them back in bed, give them the boob, let them fall asleep on you being rocked. What ever those old routines looked like. Now after two weeks they are all better, you would like to get your babe back on the previous routine which you had worked so painfully hard at obtaining. Which one will make it easier? I don't think I need to answer this...
I wanted to lay out a simple example about the importance of routine and rhythm when unplanned situations present themselves. Spring is alway going to come, it is not unplanned in that way, but better we be prepared for the shifts to come. Talk as a family about the energy we all may be presented with so we can softly remind each other in moments of uncertainty. We can find more patience and compassion for our children, or even our partners. Knowing that this is all normal. A growing pain of all sorts. It is cognitive, emotional and physical growth as well as social awareness. We as parents can offer our kids support during this transition. Sometimes this just looks like a lot of hugs, we all need a good cry sometimes. Other times it is holding your ground, being stern but with a friendly correction or redirection. We have a guideline we sort of go by most of the time, if we have to ask for something to be done the third time, it is not a time to fly off the handle with the whole why are you not listening speech, what it means is, I am not capable of doing this on my own right now can you assist me with this. Coco is incredibly precocious and independent at 5. However, simple acts like brushing her teeth or putting shoes on can seem a daunting task to her but for us parents is a necessity which needs to happen quick on school mornings. I give her the chance to take it on for herself, but after the second attempt I hate repeating myself so I simply have her follow my lead. By action and less words, I go to the bathroom, put the toothpaste on the toothbrush and gently taking her hand I give it to her. I redirect the energy to make her laugh, it is a miracle suddenly brushing has never been easier. Mornings are hard, to stop and pause, notice what is happening can be challenging for us parents. I am not always great at this but I am catching myself more and more trying to get down to the perspective of being 5.
Another tip to dealing with this burst of spunky energy is to give your child purpose. We use chores in our home which we do together as a way to bond, talk and get the jobs done. Coco does not deem these as chores, to her they are fun parts of playing 'house' and I am setting up with tools for later in life ( which she is blissfully unaware of). Gardening, cooking, washing dishes, folding laundry, hammering nails, washing mirrors, picking up bricks or wood, moving mini wheel barrows. This kind of work for them is beneficial, redirects their unused energy which they are not sure how to use and usually has them bouncing off the walls. If this is new for your family try to make a game out of it to introduce the concept as fun not a burden.
Spring is a magical time. Take nature walks, get outside. Plant seeds together and watch your child be amazed as they grow. Find books about flowers, fruits, farmers. Discuss the seasons and what change this brings for all of us and all around us. It is a great time to jump back into a ritual of farmers markets too as all their favorite berries and fruits are coming back into season. We took a trip to the poppy reserve last week to see if we could spot many of California's native flowers during this incredible super bloom. After we experienced so much rain, Coco has more understanding of the seasons how this plays a big part in our surroundings. What are some of the activities you and your family are doing to welcome in Spring? How do you welcome in these new transitions and shifts? I would love some suggestions about routines and rhythms to support this period.