Following a thread on a Yahoo group, I decided to respond here for the benefit of others who are in the same predicament. What I’m writing here is an addendum to a post I wrote three weeks ago titled Keeping Li’l Ones Occupied And Learning.
Notice that I did not include crafts or other activities that would require much supervision, since this is for when I am aiming for quality one-on-one with the school-aged child. That means no glue, scissors, paint, etc. (which we would normally do together at a different time.) The novelty of engaging in particular toys tools or activities ONLY ONCE a week has really worked wonders for us. I always bring out 2 sets in two different spots in the house. Some days, I would spread blankets on the floor as their “designated areas” of play. Most of the times, the little ones would rather pull books from the shelves and make forts or towers, or just make general mess throughout the house, but the “Tools/Toys of the Day” have really given me and my oldest some good one-on-one time on a daily basis.
When we only had two kids, it was a little tougher with a strong-willed toddler, but that was the time we slowed down a bit. My older daughter also learned to work more on her own. Except for Bible, we did read-alouds and other assigned work during nap time, or in the bathroom while the little one played in the tub.
It was, and still is, critical for me to spend one-on-one time with the little ones before school, and that we pray and praise together in the morning. I think all that help with everybody’s attitude in the midst of chaos.
This is just a season in a mother’s life– a challenging one that would better equip us as we encourage the younger moms. This would also be the perfect time to just slow down, even with academics, and just let God work through. Most likely, the children would not treasure much of the assigned work, but would forever be impacted by the mom who seems to stand wisely in the midst of turmoil in the day.
In the end, it would be about the relationships, and the building of unity and cooperation in the home. Our four-year-old has certainly taught us a lot of that. And yes, we are still learning.