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Mama Drama: Stay at Home Success

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Dear Mama Drama:

We have recently adopted a three-year-old twins. I am fortunate to be able to stay home to help them adjust to our family and bond with us.

I love children and am thrilled to finally have two of my own, but I have little experience with keeping them busy for an entire day. I would love some ideas for creating meaningful and fun activities for them.

~Inexperienced Mama

(photo credit)

Dear Inexperienced:

Congratulations on your growing family! Three-year-olds are busy little people learning, exploring, and discovering the world and themselves. Keeping up with their energy can be exhausting for even the most seasoned parent. It’s important to keep in mind that our job as parents is to guide our children and provide them opportunities to learn and play, but we don’t need to entertain them. At times this can be a delicate balance to negotiate.

A consistent routine is a great place to start with your kids. Predictability paired with flexibility sets the foundation for trust and decreases power struggles. Have a regular routine and give your kids a heads up when changes are coming such as appointments and outing. Using picture schedules will help your kids to understand the routine and increase their independence with it over time.

Have a variety of toys available for play. Play with your children some of them time and allow them to play by themselves or with each other some of the time. Stay nearby to monitor their play skills and provide support in developing their social and problem solving skills.  Help them limit the amount of toys they have out at any one time and teach them the steps for cleaning up.

Get out for adventures. Everyone gets a bit of cabin fever when there is too much time in the house. Get out in the yard, go for neighborhood walks, go to the park, and visit the zoo and museums. (Memberships and Free Days are great ways to go on a budget.) Be sure to balance outings with relaxed time at home. Too much scheduled time, and just trying to get out of the house, can be stressful.

To support your children’s socialization and provide a grown up outlet for yourself, join a playgroup or mom’s club. Other moms are a great resource for ideas on activities, outing, and tackling parenting challenges.

Read, read, read together. Reading with your children provides a wonderful foundation for literacy skills and a lovely time to bond with each other. In her book Show Me How! Vivian Kirkfield shares a plethora of ideas for pairing books with cooking and craft activities. She suggests reading the story, making a meal or snack from the story, and creating a craft or art project that related to the tale. Children love re-enacting stories and pretending to be their favorite characters. These ideas provide a guide for creating a theme for your day and supporting your children’s self-esteem along the way. Kirkfield adds a bonus of gentle parenting tips with each book activity. Teach Mama also a has great blog with everyday activities to incorporate pre-academic skills into your family fun.

Remember building strong relationships with your children will come from the time you spend together, no matter what you are doing. Have fun and enjoy this special gift of being with them while they are little.

Tell us your ideas for sharing your days with little ones.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz December 3, 2010

    Great advice, Lisa. I especially like the part about having fun. Sometimes I can get so duty-bound that I forget that part.

  • comment avatar Vivian Kirkfield December 3, 2010

    Great column, Lisa…and thanks so much for the mention. 🙂 You are right to point out that we should not forget to have fun. Sometimes we get so involved in what we think must be accomplished, we approach life too seriously.

  • comment avatar Lisa Vratny-Smith December 3, 2010

    Thanks to you both. I’m glad the reminder to have fun impacted you. It is always a challenge to remember that the dishes and laundry can wait a bit and that they are only little once. Something to keep in mind even as they get bigger.

  • comment avatar Caroline December 4, 2010

    Hi – Very helpful advice, thank you. Where can I purchase Kirkfield’s “SHOW ME HOW”?

    Thanks!
    Caroline

  • comment avatar Lisa Vratny-Smith December 4, 2010

    Thanks, Caroline.
    Vivian’s book is on Amazon. I’ll check with her to see where else it might be available.

  • comment avatar Vivian Kirkfield December 5, 2010

    Good morning Lisa,
    Thanks for asking 🙂
    Right now, SHOW ME HOW! is available for under $30 on Amazon.com and from my website: http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com. In addition, it can be bought at Poor Richards Bookstore (719-578-0012) and Abatina’s For Kids (719-471-2290) in Colorado Springs and at Covered Treasures Bookstore (719-481-2665) in Monument (don’t know what the stores are charging…cover price is $44.95). I would LOVE to place the book in stores in the Denver/Boulder area…if anyone has any suggestions or connections, that would be wonderful! Self-esteem is one of the most important gifts parents can give their children…this holiday season and all year long. 🙂

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson December 7, 2010

    All are wonderful suggestions, Lisa. There is no simple formula for being a great SAHM but rather the compendium of experiences and ideas!

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