Stop & Watch: What a child birdwatcher can teach us about parenting with L.O.V.E.

My phone is full of pictures of feathers, of flying blurs, of meadows that needs to be zoomed in 10 times before you can see the actual subject of the photo: a woodpigeon.

You guessed it: my son is a birdwatcher (and also, he does get to use my phone every now and then, but that’s another story, read here).

The other day he told me his secret.

“Birds are everywhere Mamma. I just don’t see them when I am doing something else.

The only thing to do is very simple – just it took me a very long time to figure it out.

You just need to stop and watch.

If you sit there for a minute, or maybe two, in silence, you start noticing that each tree is alive with dozens of birds.”

Stop and watch.

Things come alive.

How come, my son, you figured out something it took me 30+years to discover? Or maybe I knew it when I was 9 and then I somehow forgot it, in my attempt to learn things that seemed much more relevant and useful?

With his chair planted in the middle of the garden and his nose stuck in the sky, my son is the perfect picture of what we want to practice at BabyBrains.

Stop rushing (that wonderful mum & baby class is going to be there next week too).

Stop ruminating (that passer-by who gave me the judgemental look has probably long forgotten me).

Stop comparing (that child at the mum & me yoga has her own story)

Stop doing (that bed could be done up prettier. But it’s clean - well mostly! - and that can be enough for today).

Start observing. Take the time to stop for a moment. Maybe just 5 minutes a day when you sit on the sofa, with your child. Do nothing. See what is there. **

Things will come to life.

As a beautiful tree becomes marvellous when you discover it’s brimming with birds, so does a cute baby reveals herself as the most wonderful, powerful, amazing thing in the universe. If you just remember to stop and watch.

It’s the O of L.O.V.E.

O for Observation.

It will show you things no parenting book, no childminder chart, no scientific paper can tell you about the little person you are holding in your arms.

It will give you information to come up with your hypotheses about your child, yourself, the relationship between the two of you, the relationship between you and the world.

But also, so very simply and most preciously of all, it will fill you with amazement.

An amazement that is different from pride, because it is not related to something your child can or cannot do.

An amazement that is different from affection, because it has almost nothing to do with you.

An amazement that comes from seeing what there is. Almost getting lost in it, as it points you to the bigger picture in life.

An amazement that is similar to that of Margherita Haag when she looks at the sky, or that of Jane Goodall when she observed a chimpanzee, or of Emmanuelle Charpentier & Jennifer A. Doudna when they were developing their Nobel prize winning gene editing technology.

It’s the amazement where unconditional love finds its roots.

The only fuel in the universe that can keep a parent on her toes after days, weeks and months of 24/7 work.

That amazement is only a pause away from every exhausted mum, from every overworked dad. It’s worth going and getting.

Take it from a mini-birdwatcher: Stop and Watch.

** If doing nothing is still too hard, try our app: it will ease you into it!

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