I’m a homeschooling mom. I’ve been at this for a few years and I have enough experience now that other homeschooling moms seem to think I might have a few answers. Scary really, considering how much I still have to learn about this crazy life-style we’ve chosen, but there it is.
There are a LOT of different questions that I see over and over and this one invariably comes up…
Funny… They always seem to say that same phrase no matter how the question is worded… “Toddler Underfoot”. Of course, if you HAVE a toddler, you probably completely understand why the phrase is so popular. They are invariably right under your feet. Or possibly on your head if you made the mistake of sitting still for a moment to help her big sister out with her math work.
Yes. Toddlers are amazing, funny, distracting little dears who seem to be able to sense the moment you need to be otherwise occupied. But here’s some great news, Momma: with just a smidge of planning, you can be ready to occupy and engage that little sweetie so you CAN work with the big kids in peace, and you CAN make dinner without a munchkin hanging off your foot and, dear Momma, you CAN get the laundry into the dryer BEFORE it molds!
1) A Little Less TV Every Day – I know you do it. I do it sometimes too. That TV is just so convenient a distraction and if your kids are anything like my kids, they would sit for hours on end watching it. If this is the habit in your house, start working on limiting this distraction a little every day. You might find, as was our happy discovery, that less TV means happier, more even tempered kids! Our kids get grumpy and a little mean after too much screen time. I’m not sure why, but it’s something I’ve noticed over the years.
2) Get Her To ENGAGE in something – I know. #1 took away the thing that saved math time and laundry. But kids CAN learn to entertain themselves and engage in an activity without your constant prodding and intervention. Have you ever wondered why the house was so quiet for so long only to find your toddler totally absorbed playing a game under her sisters bed with 3 race cars a doll and a stuffed mouse, the rules to which only she is enlightened enough to understand? She CAN do it. She just needs to practice doing it when you NEED her to do it! (I keep saying her, because I’m in a house full of girls… You might not be and that’s fine. This all works for boys too!)
3) Plan Ahead And Be Ready – You need to work on that math book with your older child and you aren’t going to turn the TV on for the little one. You also find that she’s not the least bit interested in the race cars and mouse anymore. What do you do? Present her with a few materials to explore. Something she hasn’t seen in a while. It helps to have it in a special box or bag, in a special place so it becomes more exciting and important. A box of beads and a shoe lace would entertain my daughter for a good half an hour. Maybe more if she decides those beads are actually people or animals and makes up a story about them. A hole punch and a small stack of scrap paper might be another activity she could have fun with. Or maybe a box of pom poms with a pair of tongs and a second container. She’d have a great time using the tongs to transfer the pompoms from one bin to the other. ALL of these activities have 3 things in common: They don’t need YOU to be involved; They are all educational for the little one; None of them requires the use of a screen.
You can put these together yourself from materials around your home and there are LOTS of ideas all over the web about busy bags but make sure you’re picking activities that are educational and not just something to keep them busy with. Make the time meaningful!
And if YOU don’t have time to make all of those bags, consider purchasing a Busy Box or two from Little Learning Lovies In A Box!
Take a look here to see what we’re cooking up for you and your little ones!
We’ve been hard at work sourcing great materials for YOUR KIDS to have fun with. Our first of 6 Busy Boxes is sourced out and the prototype is complete… Take a look:
Busy Box #1 (which I’m still trying to decide on a name for…) will have three main activities and dozens more that your kids will come up with all on their own!
Kids can practice their buttoning skills as they learn colors and patterns with this fun set of felt strips. Each strip has a button hole on one end and a big chunky bright button on the other end. Kids can link each together by buttoning one button into another strips hole. Once they’ve mastered that, they can make a different chain by buttoning one button into it’s own button hole, then slipping another strip through the loop and buttoning THAT one to itself. Think Paper Chain only with felt loops. VERY fun. There are lots of other ways that your kids will discover to use these links and loops. My own 3 year old has amazed me with what she can do with these things. And she is now a master buttoner!
For this activity, kids will lay out one of each color of the links from activity 1. Then they’ll use the small materials provided in the baggie and sort them all out by color onto each strip. They will then likely run around the house looking for other things to sort onto their strips. Lots of fun and kids LOVE feeling the feathers and buttons, beads and sequins.
This activity is great buttoning and patterning practice. The Button Snake comes with 24 felt squares, each with a button hole in the middle. The snake itself has one square sewn to the end of it to keep all the others in place. Children can button on all the squares to design their own snake. They can choose any patterns they’d like to and will usually naturally create interesting patterns without much prodding from a grown up. Perhaps the most fun part of this activity is the imaginative play end of it. Once kids hear that it’s a snake, they seem to want to enjoy some pretend play, allowing their snake to explore the house and all the people and things in it.
We’ll be sharing more posts about each Busy Box as we finalize the sourcing and design of each one. You can keep helping us out by pre-ordering yours here! We’ll reward you with free downloads of your choice from the Little Learning Lovies Store!
We’ll have 6 Busy Boxes in all to get us started this Summer and I can’t wait to show them all to you! Here’s the list of them all:
Sandra Modersohn is a devoted wife, mother, and homeschooler. She loves great graphic design and has a passion for creating beautiful and useful printable materials for children. Little Learning Lovies where she shares her creations with the world. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and, of course, at the Little Learning Lovies Blog and Store.
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