let me preface this by saying that i'm not one of those super crafty, creative moms who fills her children's days with age-appropriate activities to stimulate their development. that kind of stuff doesn't come naturally to me.
but i want it to.
i knew we needed more structure in our lives. i rely too much on getting out of the house (the gym, the park, the mall, the grocery store, visiting friends...anything), so when we're home for a few hours i find myself lost (and bored). we play cars, we play blocks. we play cars again. we watch kipper.
it's b-o-r-i-n-g. for all of us.
for months i've been pinning activities for the boys. i've tried out several of them, but, honestly, the 5-10 minutes of enjoyment they bring doesn't quite outweigh the work, thought, and clean-up that goes into them.
(this sweetly composed little picture is a lie. they got bored with watercolors after about 8 minutes.)
i really believe children crave order and structure. freedom within limits. even though it seems counterintuitive, a child is much more likely to get bored when he has free roam of the house than when he is directed to focus on a specific activity.
this is why i am a big believer in rotating toys, and in only getting one toy out at a time (aside from the mess factor ;)) when you keep all the toys out and your child looks at them every day, they get old. on a similar note, allowing a child to play with too many toys at once usually results in him flitting from toy to toy, without showing sustained interest in or focusing on any one thing.
this is how we do it: i store all of the toys in the boys' closet (which has been fitted with extra locks since they figured out how to get the doorknob covers off...nothing like a little breaking & entering to spice up naptime). when it's time to play, i get out one toy (dominos, cars, blocks, puzzles, whatever) at a time and they play with it. if they want to move onto something else, they must first clean up that toy and put it away. occasionally i'll leave a toy out in the living room for a few days, but in general i try to keep them out of sight so they're more "exciting".
(i do, however, keep all of the books out in the living room where the boys can access them easily.)
our "system" (if you can call it that) isn't perfect, and once i can get more organized i'd like to change the way i store the toys and possibly keep a few in the living room at a time (rotated weekly or something) for the boys to choose on their own. (i've been doing a little reading on montessori-style learning and i'd like to integrate some of the concepts.)
our biggest problem (for months) has been too much free play. too much free play-->wandering around-->boredom--crankiness-->fighting-->getting into trouble...you get the picture. but i am SO NOT GOOD at sticking with things. (remember that gym i joined? it's a good thing they don't grade on attendance) cleaning schedules? yeah right. meal plans? please.
i was really inspired by some of the homeschooling/preschooling posts i've been reading lately. but i was also really intimidated. i don't have experience with this type of stuff and i just wasn't sure exactly how to start. finally, i decided i just needed to try.
so last night found me drawing up a "lesson plan" for today.
(on a piece of ripped construction paper, appropriately titled "lesson plan".
i'm so fancy.)
i decided we would hold our first trial "play school" after naptime today. we're usually out and about in the mornings, and the after-nap-before-dinner window is usually a stressful and boring and whiny time. perfect candidate for a little structure. ;)
during naptime i made dinner and prepped for our play school time. and do you know what?
i was actually nervous.
ridiculous. i know. i don't think i was as nervous about the boys' reaction to my plans as i was about failing. i think i felt like if i failed at this, if it didn't go well, then it would mean i just wasn't cut out to be that kind of mom. the fun, involved mom.
and i really want to be the fun, involved mom.
i felt like all of my hopes were riding on the success or failure of this experiment.
(and this is where we acknowledge that anxiety has no basis in logical thought. do not put pressure on yourself over something as ridiculous as this.)
so...how did it go?
you'll find out next time.
to be continued in part 2...
i know you're all on the edge of your seats.