Parallel Play

KathyMy favorite part of each day, hands down, is reading time. Each night before Doodlebug goes to bed the whole family sits down together—first iDad or I will read from our read-aloud book, then we’ll all read our own books silently. I don’t know how long Doodlebug will let us read to her, but we’ll try to keep it going as long as we can.

My most favorite part of reading time, though, is when we read to ourselves. There’s something especially cozy about being together but doing different things—it makes me think of toddlers absorbed in parallel play, aware of each other but immersed in their own experience. This is the good kind of being alone together, and I lately I’ve been on the lookout for other ways to capture that same feeling.

For instance:

  • Doodlebug and I took a parent-child art class together this fall, which went really well. I’ll admit that sometimes it was hard to drag myself out the door for class, but once we were there we both enjoyed the time to be creative side by side. We each worked on separate drawings but we learned the same techniques, and it was fun to show off our creations to iDad afterwards. Now that the class is over, I’d like to try and create similar arts and crafts sessions at home.
  • Walking home from school together is technically doing the same thing at the same time, I guess, although usually Doodlebug rides her scooter while I walk. So I’m counting it! It’s a good way to steal some conversation time before I lose her to Minecraft after school. If we’re in the car, I maybe get three sentences out of her before the audiobook comes on, but if we walk, I hear about what happened at recess, how the test went, what they did in music. But also sometimes we’re just quiet together, and that’s good too. Now that the weather is (finally!) cold and we drive more often, I really miss this time.
  • Maybe this last one sounds dumb, but I also kind of love homework time. (When it’s going smoothly, that is—we’ve had our share of meltdowns this school year.) But when Doodlebug is working at the kitchen table, iDad is doing the dishes, and I’m puttering around with bills or laundry, I get that same cozy feeling. It’s one of the only times I feel like maybe I could manage living in one of those tiny houses I keep seeing on HGTV. The rest of the time I feel like those would be an introvert’s worst nightmare, aaaiiieee!

What about you, fellow introverts? Does your family have activities you like to do together…ish? Please share so I can steal them!

— Kathy

4 thoughts on “Parallel Play

  1. Julia

    Reading is the ultimate! But I actually love long car rides. When my kids were smaller, we did books on tape, which was awesome. Even now, the rides and stops are shared. Baking together is one more.

    Reply
    1. KathyKathy Post author

      Hi, Julia! Doodlebug is a huge audiobook fan, so those are part of our car trips, too. I still haven’t had much success getting her into baking, but she’s always willing to taste test my ingredients! 😉 We’ve just started having her help cook one meal each week, and I’m hoping that will be more of a hit.

      Reply
  2. Amie

    Absolutely the good kind of being alone together! I love that you’re embracing this kind of companionable independence. 🙂 I think so often we get pressure to insert ourselves into our children’s activities, and sometimes, it’s best if everyone just does their own thing… together. Love it!

    Reply
    1. KathyKathy Post author

      Hi, Amie! Yes, companionable independence — that’s it exactly. I think it’s important for kids to learn the skill of entertaining themselves, but you don’t always have to be in separate rooms to do that. Although that is lovely, too, and sometimes very necessary!

      Reply

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