Most of our days are filled with a little “school work’ that consists mostly of art, crafts or educational play, lots of unguided play between the two of them, naptime and bedtime routine. There are a few things though, I try to get into every one of their days, except for the days they have gymnastics or dance lessons.
As a stay at home mom I do have some advantages. Having my toddlers around all day is certainly a blessing for me but even though I love to have them around, it can also be difficult as there are always things that need to get done…
Like writing blog posts for instance…
I wrote about screen time in THIS post. My oh my how difficult it is to do stuff in the house like cleaning or cooking when you have busy toddlers making sure you are needed each and every waking (and sometimes sleeping) hour of the day.
Screen time is sometimes inevitable, but there are a few things I like to do each day to make it easier for me to do everything that needs to get done without succumbing to the big black box. I have to admit I don’t get to all of these each day… sometimes we do one of it longer and sometimes we do another but the goal is to get to a point where these 5 things fill my days in general.
15 Minutes of Undivided Attention to Each Child
There’s one rule to this one… in that 15 minutes you have to do everything (within bounds) the child wants to do. If the child wants to run all around the lawn in circles, you do so. If the child wants to play blocks, you do so… you absolutely have to do everything they want to because when it’s your turn to do what you have to do, you can explain to them that you have had kiddie time now and that it’s now mommy’s turn to have mommy-time. Even if they don’t get it right away, if you do this every day they will get the pattern soon enough.
You see, each person has a hypothetical bucket that needs to get filled each day to be content.
When you spend 15 minutes of undivided attention to a child, and this is really not a lot, you will be surprised to see how much and how quickly their bucket gets filled.
When their bucket is full, playing on their own while you work will come much more naturally.
Reading to kids every day is a must. Although reading as part of the night time routine is integrated in most of our lives, the reading I am talking about now is just reading. As in sitting on the couch, kids snuggled around you, reading to them in broad daylight.
I try to take a longer book without too much pictures like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The BFG and read a chapter or two each day. I want them to be able to follow a story without instant gratification. There so much value in waiting to hear the end of a story over a week or two of reading and remembering and following that story over those days. Some days my only 4 year olds are so interested in the book I am reading that they just want to continue reading, and on those days I do.
I see reading as the most valuable part of a child’s education
My kids need a little help with puzzles… it’s neither of their strong points but I believe in the value of puzzle building because it develops a range of skills like:
FINE MOTOR DEVELOPMENT
HAND AND EYE COORDINATION
Yes I did put screen time in… this can be educational apps on the tablet or watching something on TV but I try to limit it to 1,30 hours as this is the length of a standard movie. If they want to watch something shorter like Paw Patrol they get to watch more episodes, or combine it with playing on the tablet but never longer than 1,30 hours.
Also, never Channels on TV, only DVD’s. As I explained in THIS post, channels on the TV are really time stealers and you have no control over the content you are allowing your child to watch. For that very reason we don’t even have regular TV and keep it to DVD’s at home. They can however watch channels on TV when they are at their grandparents’ home but that’s really just every once in a while.
Every day they MUST play or read on their own for a while and if they haven’t done so at any given day, I always remind them that it’s time for alone playtime now.
There’s no time limit to this rule and they often start out alone and then play for hours together.
This is one of those bucket things… it’s also something they need to sometimes just recoup to get their thoughts in order and get rid of over stimulation to screens, school work or human contact… yes I know it sounds weird but kids need it too!