5 Tips for Looking After Little People
I am blessed with three gorgeous nieces who arrived 8, 6 and 1.5 years ago (update, there is now a 4th niece!). Then there is my Godson and my best friends’ children and the ever-growing list of friends’ kids that keep arriving into this world. I have been lucky to be around little people a lot in the last ten years. Oh, and how could I forget, my first job out of school was teaching swimming lessons to little people (that was fun until it hurt too much). So I’ve had a little bit of experience looking after little people.
There have been many, many times where I have thought that my hypermobile body & kids just don’t mix! I thought that because many, many times it has been true. I have lost count of the number of injuries that have occurred because of my interaction with a tiny human. I stopped counting a long time ago. But I have learned a lot about my body and how to manage it through my interactions with these little people. And that’s what I wanted to share with you.
Here’s my top 5 tips for looking after little people when you are a bendy-bod:
1. Sit down with them wherever possible. Whether it’s a 1-month-old, a 1-year-old or a 5-year-old, sitting is usually better. You are at less risk of falling when sitting (I hope! Unless you are one of those people who routinely falls off chairs). You can support the weight of the child using pillows, armrests, your legs so that your arms don’t take their full weight – especially if they are sleeping.
2. Bring the task to you, not you to the task. A perfect example of this is bending down to help a child with something on the floor. If you can bring that something up to your level to fix/ build/ do and then give it back to them, do that. The number of times I have found myself bent over trying to do something on the floor level when I could easily have picked it up and done it while upright and then put it back/given it back. For example getting a child’s shoes & socks on them. If you are up, and they are down, bring them up to your level. Sit them on a chair, (the table if you have to), a step. Bring them up, so you don’t have to reach so far down for a prolonged period. Use your brain to save your body, as my mum always says.
3. Say no. Oh gosh, this is a hard one… one I’m still learning. Don’t let the tiny human tell you what you do and don’t have to do. Kids can be bossy. Especially little girls who want you to sit on the floor and play dolls with them, or play soccer with them in the backyard (haha, different story). You are the grown-up in the situation. Use your brain and your prerogative, say no when you don’t think you should be doing a particular activity, even if it causes them to throw a ‘lil tanty.
4. Have some planned activities that you know you CAN do with them, safely. Whether it’s playing with Playdoh or stacking blocks with a toddler; going for a walk and pushing a baby in the stroller; doing puzzles; colouring or drawing. Have some stuff planned in advance that you know that you can safely do so that you are less likely to get into compromising positions – especially with older children who will ask you to do the things they want to do.
5. When all else fails – music. I was going to say I’m yet to meet a child who didn’t like music, but that would be untrue. Many children with special needs don’t like music or particular noises. But generally speaking, kids love songs, they love to dance and move. I’m not saying that YOU have to dance, especially if you are sore or just don’t think it’s a good idea, but you can sit and watch them, encourage them, clap your hands, wiggle your body, nod your head, stomp your feet, sing along. You can still engage!
Know that there will likely be sore muscles and maybe even some injuries along the way, but if you love kids, don’t let that stop you. You will find a way.P.S You can also use the STOP-THINK-DO framework when looking after little people.
Have you got a tip to share? Please do!
Michelle is a Senior Occupational Therapist working solely with adults with hypermobility and related conditions. Michelle is the owner of Hypermobility Connect, an online platform for people with hypermobility to connect with resources, health professionals & each other. Michelle practices OT in her private practice and provides education to health professionals relating to hypermobility conditions.