100,000 Hours with Your Child

Posted by in No-Cry Separation Anxiety

From the time your baby is born until she leaves home for college or wherever the future leads, the two of you may have over 100,000 hours together. It would be absolutely impossible, unnecessary, and unhelpful to spend all of those hours as your child’s personal Sesame Street Live. Your time with your child should be balanced between focused, engaged together-time with some “we’re in the same room, and we’re both doing our own thing” time.

100,000 Hours with Your Child @NoCrySolution #parenting #tips

Lauren, age 3

Independent playtime teaches your child many things. That he can explore the world and listen to his inner voice as his teacher. That he is capable of spending time apart from those he loves without fear, anxiety or boredom. That he is a person who can make his own decisions, be they small (should I play with my cars or my blocks?) or large.

Clearly, the younger the child the more time you will spend engaged. But even a baby can use some minutes of exploring her fingers and toes without having you there to count them.

100,000 Hours with Your Child @NoCrySolution #parenting #tips

Ashlene, 8 months old

“Once I started paying attention, I was surprised at how often I imposed myself into Brandy’s playtime. I meant well. I wanted to show her I was proud of her for playing on her own but realized that my peeking into her room and complimenting her on her independence were actually reinforcing her need for my presence, just in a different way. Now when I hear her playing happily alone, I leave her to enjoy the time.”
~ Barb, mother of five-year-old Brandy

100,000 Hours with Your Child @NoCrySolution #parenting #tips

Leah, 14 months old

It’s important to show your child that she CAN enjoy being alone! She can learn that she can be her own best company. Far from being neglectful, this is a lovely gift that you can give your child, so that for the rest of her life she won’t fear being alone, but rather enjoy a healthy balance between time on her own and time spent with others.

Of course, this doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be boat-loads of time spent with Mom and or Dad engaged in playtime, cuddle time or quiet time – those are the most precious of family moments, and there should be plenty of those moments!

100,000 Hours with Your Child @NoCrySolution #parenting #tips

Henry, 22 months old and Daddy

I’m an attached, dedicated mom of four wonderful children who are now young adults. Believe me, I had a huge chunk of those 400,000 hours playing with Legos, catching a frisbee, painting tiny fingernails, watching hundreds of cartwheels and somersaults (Watch ME, Mom!), cheering Little League teams, helping with homework, going on hikes, bikes and swims, editing college application essays, and driving cross country to or from a far-away college. I’ve also had many of those 400,000 hours being the same room with children who are sorting Matchbox cars, building a Lego city, reading, playing a game of Monopoly or Risk, while I tap-tap away on my laptop writing a book, or leaf through a magazine.

100,000 Hours with Your Child @NoCrySolution #parenting #tips

Haley and Mommy

Now that my children are all taller than me, we still find a wonderful balance. There are still times painting fingernails (that are no longer tiny), still time cheering at a baseball game, attending a concert, browsing an art gallery, or shopping for maternity clothes. And there are also times when we are busy with our own tasks, and our own worlds. But there is a contentment that speaks volumes of a lifetime of being in a loving family, where you can sometimes be a busy, noisy bunch, and other times be individuals, who have solid, deep roots in family that ground us in those times when we are apart, either by choice or by situation.

So, don’t be afraid of giving your child some independent time to balance out your overflowing bounty of together hours. You aren’t being a neglectful parent; you are being a brilliant parent.


Need more tips? The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution for gentle ways to make good-bye easy from six months to six years.

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