I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve asked a mother if they were able to work on our speech and language goals during the week, and their answer was “I didn’t have time”. This is such a massive problem that so many moms experience. Wake up, get your children dressed and fed, drop them off at daycare, go to work, pick them up after work, prepare dinner, eat, bath, bed. This is the schedule of many moms who I’ve interacted with. And I’ve had to ask myself, when do I expect them to fit my home programme in?
And so I’ve sat down and thought of a few tips for busy moms:
Tip #1: Routines!
Routines are extremely important for Speech and Language development because they provide a familiar activity and frequently repeated language models. And the great thing about routines? They’re already part of your day. Morning routines, meal times, bath time, bed time: all these are routines that can be filled with rich language input and provide the perfect space for your child to develop important skills! You can turn these routines into opportunities in a number of ways: songs, rhymes, questions and games. For example, during bathtime, sing a song: “This is the way we wash out feet, wash our feet, wash our feet’, going through all the different parts of the body. When putting your child to bed, follow a routine that works for both you and your child. This can involve reading a familiar story, saying a prayer or singing a song. Use similar phrases each night, so that your child knows what to expect. Follow routines on a daily basis, allowing for turn taking.
Tip #2: Quality over quantity.
When I’ve asked parents how much time they thought I want them to spend on the activities I’ve given them, the answer was usually something close to an hour a day. Whilst an hour a day is great, very few parents have that amount of time! Even just 5 minutes, set apart for what I call “Special Time” can be extremely beneficial. Most children can’t concentrate for extended periods of time, so little snippets of time are important. It’s also not necessary to plan wonderful creative activities where most of the time is spent on the actual activity and not on communication – just focus on interacting. Ask open-ended questions, listen to what they are saying and expand on that! Don’t worry about how much time you’re spending, rather focus on what real interaction is taking place.
Tip #3: Seize the moment!
Make the most of the times that you do have alone with your child. Do you need to drive your child to day care every morning? Make the most of this time and fill it with communication! Ask questions, sing songs, talk about what he can see. Do you have a few minutes to spare before dinner time? Talk about what your child is playing with, or join in! Does your toddler want to help making dinner? Give him some potatoes to wash and turn it into a language filled game! Speech and language stimulation doesn’t need to be meticulously planned, with exciting activities and crafts. Stimulation can take place anywhere, anyhow: just seize the moment!