I think routines are very good to have in place because they provide structure & the stability every kid needs & craves, but we don't want to get so ridged about it that our kid can't flow or handle things changing up from time to time.
Especially when you are a stay at home mom, it might be hard to stay creative all the time & for the days to not become somewhat monotonous. First of all, I think that is why play dates, trips to the library, classes, or any other activity that can get them out of the house for a moment are important to spread throughout the week. Aside from that, creating "stations" in your house or blocks of time dedicated to certain activities is important for your kids, but also for your own sanity. Here are some ideas....
1) Creating a special area dedicated to reading. Make it look different from play areas for your kids so that they realize you expect a different attitude when they are in this area. Maybe put a small rug & pillows to make it look comfy. Establish rules for that specific area like using soft voices or only becing able to have 1 book out at a time or treat books with respect. Changing out the books from time to time is also important. You can establish weekly themes if you want (i.e. nature) or whatever. If you do not have a lot of books, the library is a great place to rent some from.
2) This "quiet zone" can also double as a puzzle station if you add a lil' table. I am obsessed with IKEA so I definitely recommend getting their child size furniture.
3) An art station can also be fun. You can either set up more independent projects like painting or playdoh or a larger project that you can do together with your lil' ones. If you have a theme for the week this is another awesome place to incorporate it. Online is a great place to find projects, their are inexpensive crafts at craft stores, or check out your local dollar store or the "Dollar Spot" at Target. Again, IKEA offers some EXCELLENT craft aprons that provide excellent coverage for your lil' ones for the more messy projects.
4) Adding a cooking project into the week can also be super fun. Include your child in this process by letting them help pick what you should cook, write up the grocery list, & even go shopping with you to get everything.
5) Nap time is also a fun lil' way to break up the day. Even if your kid is "getting a lil' old for naps". This time in the middle of the day is really nice to give everyone a chance to unwind & to leave them alone with their thoughts. I can't tell you how many times I have walked past Aidann during nap time & she is singing or telling herself lil' stories. You can even send older kids to bed with a more quiet & imaginative toy (like a few Barbies) or books. Be sure to establish expectations to your child again about how they need to use quiet voices & they are not allowed to get out of bed. I personally seperate my kids during this time because I want them to do the independent thing & also be able to unwind & take a nap if they need it (sometimes they don't even know they need it).
6) Water play is also a wonderful activity. I have a water table & it provides hours of fun for the girls, but if that is not an investment you really want or can make right now, create your own water play area with bath toys or items from the kitchen. I definitely suggest doing this in the kitchen on top of towels or even buying 1 of those small inexpensive plastic pools. Supervision for this activity is ALWAYS needed!
7) Music is great to incorporate into childhood. You can simpily turn on some music & dance around all crazy together or add in insruments from the store or make your own. This is also a wonderful time to incoporate some of the classic songs with music or make up new ones.
8) Independent play is very important to add intot he daily routine, especially with the younger ones who tend to want to be right there on your hip all the time. Assign each child a station or area to play in away from you & away from their other sibilings. This is so healthy for them to learn how to create fun/entertainment by themselves. You can start doing this with smaller increments of time if it is not something you have been doing since 9 months & then slowly increase time to an hour.
9) Special time/1-on-1 time is something your child will definitely cherish if you can add it into the day. It can be something as simple as sitting that one child down with you for a story, letting just them help you with dinner, playing something that interests them for awhile, or just taking the time to sit them down & listen to what they have to say. You may not be able to squeeze this in for all your kids every day, but there is always tomorrow & don't ever beat yourself up for not being able to make it happen.
10) Dedicating time specifically to learning is also important. It is never too early. Austin doesn't quite understand the concept of shapes & colors right now, but for her "school time" there are other things I can start teaching her (i.e. animal recognition & sounds, saying the alphabet & counting, etc). Again, before beginning this very important time, estblashing epectations is very important. Try to make the learning area in the same place every day also so that your child knows that when they are in this "space", it is time to get serious & ready for learning.
Well, I hope I provided you with at least some ideas on how to break up your days in a positive & productive way :).
|Today we apparently woke up to a blizzard!|
Girls put on snow gear and we built snowmen,
threw snowballs, & more snow fun!
|Pushing her baby in a sled through the snow|
|Helping me make "hot coco"|
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