By Fredrica Syren:
As the mom of a five-year-old girl, I often find myself with the “I’m bored” and/or “Can you play with me, please?” If Bella would have it her way, I would play babies, dolls, doctor, hide-n-go-seek — or jump rope with her or push her on the swing — all day long. Accompanying those requests are the many, many “Mom, look at me! Mom, look at her! Mom, Mom . . . Mom . . . “ When there were just the two of us during the day, entertaining Bella was easier; but once her brother entered the picture, things changed, and I no longer can play with her constantly.
I feel bad about the change because I know she often misses the quality times we used have, but she now has to share. Instead, I’m trying to be creative. First, I have changed how I get most of my “chores” finished before she comes home from school. I will wake up before the kids do, and work on green-mom and my food blog: I write posts, publish, arrange pictures, answer emails and communicate with staff. Noah usually wakes up around 5:30 a.m., so I cuddle with him and get his breakfast ready as well as prepare Bella’s lunch. While he eats, I drink my tea and eat my breakfast. When Bella wakes up around 6:30 a.m., it’s mother and daughter snuggle time. While Noah naps in the morning and Bella is in school, I complete most of my work, as well as prepare lunch and dinner. This way I have the afternoons to play with Bella while Noah naps.
Of course there are many days when I can’t play with her and need to come up with things she can do on her own while next to me. If I’m cooking or baking, I engage her in it and get her to help me.
- When we have our together time, we’ll discuss and learn about something she is interested in. Maybe on one day it will be about Native Americans and another, about kangaroos. So on a day when I need her to play on her own, I set her up with some crayons and coloring pages (printed from the internet) on one of these topics. This way she will learn through her drawings.
- She loves play dough, and I have a recipe for homemade white dough that, when baked in the oven, make her creations stiff so she can paint them the next day. The recipe is:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour,
- 2/3 cup salt,
- 3/4 cup parts water,
- 1 tbsp. oil.
- Mix the salt and flour in a bowl. Add the oil and a little water at a time until you have an easily shaped but not too sticky dough. It’s ready for little hands!
- To dry the new artwork, bake it at F 170 degrees for an hour, then leave out to continue drying overnight. The kids can paint their creations the day after with any paint except watercolors.
- Making soap bubbles is a great, fun activity that most kids can do on their own. Bella loves chasing them as well as blowing them, so it’s double fun!
- Colored salt is fun and easy to make. Just mix Epsom salts with all-natural food colors. Create at least three different colors and then let the child mix them into recycled glass jars to produce layers and fun shapes.
- I like to save used formula cans for her to decorate with feathers, beads, etc.
For more examples of fun play ideas for children, check out these web sites: