Greetings again… If you didn’t check out the first post of the “5 Days in the Life of a Stressed Out Mom…” series, you’ll definitely want to read that first! Yesterday we tackled one of the biggest sources of stress in my life. CLEANING! I hate to look around and see clutter and dirt, yet I find it hard to keep up with it! If you want some ideas, resources and inspiration, check it out!
Today we are on to #2 on my list…the “Littles”
By this I mean those younger kids/toddlers/or babies in your life. Honestly, I thought I was past this phase. My daughter had moved into more of the self-sufficient part of a child’s life. I had a son who was about 3.5 years older, so we were in the clear! Until we were blessed with a wonderful little bundle of surprise! Our youngest son, who is now 22 months old, is full of life and activity (nothing like my older two!). He has turned my life into a whirlwind of excitement, love, and yes…stress. At 40 years old, I did not expect to be back in baby mode, but here I am!
What about you? Do you have some little ones at home? Are you trying to homeschool older kids and find it hard to keep those little ones busy and out of their hair?
Out of desperation, I have turned to friends, family, and of course Pinterest in search of help! Here are a few things that have started to work for me and some more ideas that I hope to try!
Here’s what I have figured out so far….
- Have a plan – I have now created a schedule that includes the toddler. And thanks to the advice of a dear friend, I have assigned times of the day for the big kids to watch/play with the toddler. While I working on math with one kid, the other kid is playing with little brother. We switch on and off a couple times of the day. During naps, I either work on my own stuff, or work on things the older kids need help with. I even have a sibling assigned during nap time….just in case his nap is short! It’s not a lot of time each day (maybe an hour per kid) but it adds up to a lot. Plus it’s creating wonderful bonding time for them. There’s a huge age gap in my kids so it will be easy for the big ones to not be very involved with the toddler.
- Have quiet activities on hand – play dough, coloring, rice table, puzzles, etc. All these activities can be done a small table right in our school room without disrupting the older kids while they work on school. I have a small IKEA child’s table next to my desk. I have a bin with a few containers of play dough and some cookie cutters, mini rolling pin, and play dough tools. He loves sitting there while we all work! When he’s done with that, I pull out the puzzles, or some paper and markers (he loves markers).
- Stop and Listen – I feel that many times, his annoying whining or fussing is really just his frustration at me for not “hearing” him. When I finally just stop and get down to his level and really ask him what he needs or wants, he gets so happy! Usually he just needs a hug or to be held for a minute. Or maybe he’s trying to show me something or ask for something.
- Sink Time – when all else fails for me, playing in the kitchen sink is the winner! I know we are wasting water, but honestly, I don’t care (judge if you will). What I need most in my life, is a happy toddler and a less stressed out ME. Besides, with him at the sink, I’m in the kitchen. I can tidy up, work on shopping lists, clean the counters, unload the dishes, or what I usually do….start on dinner!
- Pouring/Cooking Station – If you haven’t seen all my videos and pictures of my son “cooking,” you’re missing out! He LOVES to “cook” and stir all kinds of concoctions. When I’m in the kitchen….but don’t want him in the sink, this is his favorite. I give him a few bowls or containers, a few different “ingredients” like rice, flour, sugar, and something like parsley or some spice that is past it time! He uses a spoon, whisk, or any other small kitchen tool/toy from his play kitchen and helps me cook dinner!
- Go outside – Recently I have “moved” my son’s nap further in the day. He used to go down for a nap between 11:30-12:30. Now I have him going down around 1:30 or 2:00! This was the biggest lifesaver for me. With the 11:30 nap, I just couldn’t go or do anything! Run errands? Nope…didn’t really have enough time by the time I actually left the house! Meet a friend for myself or the other kids? Nope… no time to play because we have to get back for his nap! Now I can go places! Lately, it has been so nice outside, that we have been leaving for the park almost every day. My 11 year old still loves the park with friends, and it’s perfect for the almost 2 year old to wear himself out! We head home around 1 or 1:30 and he sleeps for like 3 hours!!
Here are a few ideas I want to try:
- Busy boxes or bags – Have you seen these all over Pinterest? Do you use them? I had done this a little bit with my daughter years ago, but I think I want to use the summer to really get some ready for the next school year! He’ll be 2 in June, so during the school year, he’ll be old enough to start doing some fun and even “educational” busy box activities!
- Velcro Blocks – this ingenius idea is so simple! Take some blocks, add stick on Velcro and bam….Velcro blocks! I think my little guy would love to stick these together and take them apart!
Has this helped you in any way? Do you have some great ideas for how to keep the little ones busy in your home? I’d love to hear your ideas! Please share them in the comments!
I think the most important thing I can do personally, and that I would encourage you to do as well, is to just stop and enjoy them. However, I totally get the need to focus on the older kids and their homeschool work! This week I hope to focus on enlisting the help of the family as we all gather together to learn and help each other. When I feel stressed, I’m going to remind myself that “this too shall pass” and that God has blessed me with 2 other amazing kids and a totally supportive husband who gladly comes home and takes over the care of the kids! When we focus on the blessings, there’s just no room for the frustrations!
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