It’s that time of year.
When I sit down and try to visualize our year. I ponder what projects we’ll complete in history or experiments in science. I glance through the art books, checking pages that are for sure, and writing down the faves. I plan out the math — and, yes, that’s easy. I pick books, create a schedule for reserving books at the library, and prep our netflix queue.
Then I remember.
I remember that beyond my older four school age children I have three wonderful children five and under. That need attention. And projects. And supervision. And to feel important.
Here are my top five surviving the preschoolers/toddlers/babes years.
1) Start the day with them. As much as I want to dive into algebra (hee hee hee) it’s a better choice to snuggle on the couch, read some Thomas books, and focus my attention on them. It fills their needs — they know they’re important, loved, and worth spending time with. And, honestly, it creates a calm atmosphere in our home.
2) Rotate activities. I know, we’ve all heard it — rotate toys — but do we really do it? I was a skeptic. Until I tried it. I gathered toys and activities that were ONLY to be used while we worked on academics. These toys rotate depending on the day of the week. It keeps them busy and focused. I keep the toys in our laundry room (which has a lock) and bring them up for that day.
3) Mat time. Along with rotating toys, I have this roll-up mat that I pull out for them to play on with the special activity. They’re not allowed to leave the mat (keeps them in sight while I’m helping to diagram sentences) with the toys. Little Elijah loves his, “MAT TIME!” That’s Caleb working with the counting frogs and charts.
4) File Folder Games. I’ve been working on putting these together for the last year. They’re super simple to assemble and they keep my older preschoolers very busy. Just today I made several more and Caleb was content to “test” them out. I’ve got a couple favorite sites — Preschool Activities in a Bag (you can download a copy) and filefolderfun.com. You can google filefolder games or preschool activities and find a wealth of information.
5) Olders/youngers schedule . Not a strict one, because that’s not how I operate, but rather a time during the day where my older kids rotate with the youngers. This is not for a great deal of time, but rather a 20-30 minute chunk of time where they play/teach/sing/read to their younger sibling. The benefit? An amazing bond between my older children and their younger siblings. It’s priceless to watch them invest time with each other. And then this allows me the freedom to help Brennan read, or make dinner, or teach piano.
I sure do love them. They add an element of laughter and surprise to our days. And speaking of that — our house is rarely spotless (which is something I’ve had to struggle to let go of) — because we LIVE in it and here everyday. When you come in, there might be paint on the table, duplos on the rug, and lunch cooking on the stove. There might be Bible verses on the counter, a chalk hopscotch out front, a laundry pile waiting to be folded, and books left on the couch. That’s our home. One day, all these gifts of mine will have their own home — so until then I’ve had to learn to balance the need to keep things perfectly clean and spending quality time with them.
And ultimately they win.
At least till 11 pm. Then I’ll tackle that laundry.
Oh, yeah —- don’t forget coffee. That always helps.