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Caught up in the rigmarole of the daily life, there are times when I don't even get to speak to my husband as I am asleep when he comes home and I leave before he wakes up the next day. But the moment my precious bundle arrived, I promised him that no matter what, I will not let a single day go by without spending some exclusive time with him.
Time with him - I realized is a necessity both for him as well as me. This time together helps us bond, helps me give all my attention to him and helps him achieve his milestones. I took a full 6 month maternity leave so that I could breastfeed him and spend maximum time with him in his tender age. Post that, I switched jobs and got something closer to work and something lesser hectic. Of course it meant a pay cut but who really cared. What I gained out of it was so much more precious and important.
Today he is a year old and every day, I spend at least 4 hours of quality time with him. This is the time which excludes the feeding and time spent with family. I spend an hour and half with him in the morning, before I go to work. I go for a walk with him to the park every morning for half an hour. We play on the swings, sing songs and also walk two rounds holding hands. Slowly but surely I can see my son change in front of my eyes. Those unsteady legs are now becoming steadier while walking. He holds the swing himself while swinging. Though he can't speak words fully yet, he hums the tune at times and completes the song in his own blabbering.
Next is half an hour of massage time. This time is something we exclusively share and have a lot of fun too. I have been massaging him and giving him a bath since the time he was a month old. Now this massage is a time to not only exercise his body but also to sing rhymes, learn about body parts and learn counting. He is slowly picking up what each part of the body is called, as and when I massage, as I keep talking to him about it.
After that is half an hour of bath. Here again, we play games and sing songs.
Moving over to the evening, once I am home, I spend an hour with him playing games. We build towers of blocks and knock it down, we play catch with balls, we play racing with cars and cooking with utensils, peekaboo, hide and seek, making stuff with play dough etc.
Post dinner, one hour is dedicated to reading. We read different books and finally drift off to sleep. Daddy also joins us once he is back from office. We enact characters, change voices and read out books with our own actions and in a sing song tone. I see my baby picking up words, tones, giggling at certain actions and even copying them.
I feel that of all the things I can give my baby, my time is the most vital. Every activity we do is accompanied by a lot of hugs, kisses, cuddling and encouragement because we strongly believe that it is important for the physical and mental growth of our baby. Games like stacking blocks, peekaboo etc. help in developing baby's motor and sensory skills. Regularly reading to baby and singing to him helps develop his speech skills. All that apart, physical cuddling and spending exclusive time with baby (sans any gadget) leaves both me and my baby feeling loved. There is absolutely no feeling to beat the feeling of being hugged and cuddled by a small baby.
If you fall short of ideas of what activities you can indulge in, with your baby - no worries. YouTube has a plethora of options available. Here is one awesome video I found which helped me learn to make edible play dough. It really works and I have no fear of something harmful going into my son's stomach if he nibbles the dough while playing (which is bound to happen)
My recommendation - try as much as possible to spend some exclusive time with your baby. It really is a stress buster and life saver in today's mad rat race. Any other games you guys can think of, for a one year old? Please feel free to add :)