Friday, January 3, 2014

“A guide to Horizontal Parenting” by Shannon Day

Horizontal Parenting (or couch-based parenting) isn’t likely something that you plan for but you should. There’ll, indeed, be times when you’re out of commission, partially or fully.  And, unless family members or friends come to the rescue, you’ll still have to take care of and entertain your kids.

Whether morning sickness is your nemesis, an all encompassing flu has you in its clutches or, heaven forbid, you’ve got a hangover. The fact is: it’s possible to play an active parenting role while remaining, virtually, inactive.

It doesn’t really matter what lands you on the couch. It’s what you do, while you’re there, that counts.

Here are some simple suggestions to help you excel as a Horizontal Parent. The following ideas can be orchestrated from the comfort of your couch and, depending on the age of your children, your involvement can be minimal, allowing you to rest.

1.       Play I Spy.
2.      Play UNO.
3.      Read books.
4.      Ask the kids to tell you, or each other, stories. Take turns adding details.
5.      Encourage the kids to play Make your own Sandwich.
6.      Play computer games.
7.      Make bracelets.
8.      Build a giant tower with Lego or blocks.
9.      Play Tic Tac Toe.
10.   Play Spa. You are the spa goer. The kids are the staff, who specialize in hand and foot massages (provide a towel and lotion).
11.    Engage in a horizontal game of Keep the Balloon Up.
12.   Do Improv.
13.   Play Hospital. You’re the patient. They’re the doctors.
14.   Do puzzles.
15.   Provide never-seen-before crafty things (like stickers, colouring sheets and crayons. Avoid scissors, markers, glue and sparkles).
16.   Watch movies (of course).
17.   Snuggle.
18.   Play Theatre. Ask the kids to create, rehearse and perform their own show.
19.   Order a pizza.
20.  Hold a Tidying Up competition.

You can be really organized by pre-packing a Horizontal Parenting Kit. That way, when the unexpected (or the self-inflicted) strikes, you’ll be ready.

To build your own kit, you’ll need: UNO cards, books, DVDs,  beads and pipe cleaners (for simple bracelets), blocks or Lego, lotion, a towel, balloons, a doctor’s kit, puzzles, stickers, crayons, colouring sheets and some Improv ideas.

For example: everyone is at a party and each person is assigned a funny character. They have to try to guess who the other characters are, while acting like their assigned character (e.g., a Disney princess, an angry villain, a favourite hockey player, a popular singer, a teacher from school, the principal or a family member. You could also assign them each an animal or an object (e.g., a kettle, a door, a hair dryer, a chair, a tree, a swing, a mat or a tooth brush).

Whatever you do release the activities one at a time and as slowly as possible. Maximize each one.  This slow release will ensure that more time is filled and that the kids are sufficiently entertained for as long as possible resulting in some quality Horizontal Parenting that you can almost feel good about.

Shannon Day is a contently, suburban wife and the mom of three fab little ladies. She blogs at Martinis and Motherhood, where you’ll find articles, stories and drink recipes created for the non-perfect mom who values family, friendship and a nice cocktail once in a while: here.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Algoma, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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