I need some guidance with my two youngest children. I am a stay at home mother of four children. I currently have two in full time elementary school and two at home. The kids at home are 4 and 1.5 years old. I do women's bible study, moms group and PTA. So we are active 2-3 mornings a week. On the days we are home I am having a hard time and getting frustrated with the kids. I'm not even sure where the frustration is coming from. I need some guidance on how to structure our time. What should our at-home time look like? I have a ton of things to get things done around the house, and I feel like I could always be doing something. When the older two kids were toddlers at home I spent so much time with them doing activities, coloring, play dough, puzzles, reading, etc. I don't do much of that with the two babies. Can you help me with a schedule or plan for our day? The baby usually naps from noon-2:30pm and then we leave to get kids from school. So its mainly the mornings until lunch (and during nap time for the 4 year old) I am having a hard time with. Thanks.
Hello, and thank you for your question. I titled it "Shift Your Focus" because that's what needs to happen. Had you written to us when your older two children were home with you, I would have suggested the same thing.
Your children, even the baby, need to learn, understand and believe that it's their job to pay attention to you and not the other way around. You are the mom, not the playmate. That's not to say you shouldn't play with your children when you have the time and inclination, but it is important that you understand your role in their play. One way we can encourage resourcefulness in our children is to not have every moment planned and scheduled, and to not rush in when the kids are "bored" and want you to entertain them. Your job as household manager is every bit as important as their jobs as children! It's been said that "play is the work of childhood" (thank you Piaget) and that is the truth. Therefore, your home time should consist of you doing what needs to be done at home while your children entertain themselves. If you have time when the little one is napping, you and your 4 year old can spend some time connecting through books, games, cooking and crafts that aren't appropriate for the baby. That's also a great time for your 4 year old to do whatever chores have been assigned (and I sincerely hope that there's at least one daily and one weekly chore that belong to him).
As you go about your business at home, check in with the children every so often. Invite your son to help with your chores as well as doing his own. Dedicate a lower cupboard or drawers to the children's acceptable toys and activities. Make sure you have a good assortment of open-ended toys and craft materials, that is, ones that can be used in a variety of ways and don't need batteries. Keep them away from screens and electronics and provide opportunities for them to discover and experiment. Take walks daily, if weather permits, and if you can't get outside, turn on some music inside and let them dance! Little children need lots of big movements to develop their motor skills. They also need to be bored so they can learn ways to entertain and engage themselves.
I hope this helps you create some structure at home, but mostly I hope it helps you redefine your role in your children's lives. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Wishing you happy days at home with your little ones!
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
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