Child Playing in water table

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” 
 ~Alexandra K. Trenfor

An important aspect of any parenting journey is to let our kids learn by doing. To explore, to figure things out for themselves, to experience natural consequences (so long as they are safe). I love to watch the delight on their faces as they test their bodies’ limits by climbing higher at the playground than ever before, as they taste the first cookie that they carefully measured all the ingredients for themselves, as they finally make a toy work after trying to figure it out for hours. You know, being present without being a “helicopter parent.” 

But the Peoria Playhouse is a test of my non-helicoptering will. 

“If you cover the chute with your hand a little bit, you can get the ball to fly a little higher.” 


“If you stick the pig’s nose to the magnet and turn this crank really fast, you can make the pig fly!”


“If you take all the eggs up to the top, they’ll roll back down under the chickens.”

(If this all sounds like Greek to you, make a visit to the Peoria Playhouse. There’s SO much to explore and learn and do!)

I practically had to borrow a hot glue gun from the construction area to seal my lips and keep myself from interfering when we got to the water table. 

Playing in the water table. If you just flip the tube over…

If you use one of these elbows…

If you direct all the streams to the water mill…

If you use a straight connector now…

If you just…

If you…


But I stopped myself. I watched my 4-year-old and my 2-year-old play independently for two hours.

(Seriously, have you been to the Peoria Playhouse? My kids were happily engaged for TWO HOURS!)

I let them play, explore, do it differently than I would, start over, and learn. I resisted the urge to helicopter and tell them how to make it all work the “right” way. I stayed nearby to ensure their safety, to offer quiet support, to answer their questions, to help when they asked, but I let them go. And then…

Playing in the water table

Eureka! He realized that the water was making the mill move. He directed a second and third stream of water to it and observed that it went faster. I could see the delight in his face as he swung the streams out of the mill and then back into it, observing the changes, realizing that through his work and questions and observations and careful planning, he was now the master of this domain.

A life lesson. I have power. I am an active participant in life. I can create change.

And so it is in birth. A core value of Heartland Doulas is to support our clients without an agenda. We don’t believe there is a “right” way for you to give birth. We facilitate you envisioning your birth during our prenatal appointment and then we ask the questions that help you determine what it is you want and need in the moment. We ensure that our clients feel nurtured without feeling pressure to birth a certain way. We are present, but we are not helicoptering. Because we believe that you have power. We believe that you are capable of being an active participant in your healthcare decisions. We believe that your empowerment leads to your own best birth experience. 

Natural Birth. Epidural Birth. Cesarean Birth. Home Birth. Hospital Birth. Water Birth. VBAC. You call the shots.

Our only agenda is for you to feel supported, respected, and heard. 

Authored by: Kate Herzel

Contact us today for more information on how we can help you discover your unique birth vision and support you through one of the most important days of your life.


About Kate Herzel

Kate Herzel is the co-owner of Heartland Doulas alongside Stacy Ash, and together with their combined 20 years of experience and 7 doulas, they help people have really amazing birth and postpartum experiences. In her spare time, Kate enjoys cooking with her kids, brewing beer with her husband, and entertaining for her friends.