The Simple Pleasures
Before I had children of my own, I spent many hours entertaining a waist high audience, be it during my time as an after-care helper in college, teaching summer art camp during my years as a teacher, or working at a daycare in graduate school. I had a bag of tricks that kept the kids coming back for more and kept the parents pleased to be picking up happy children at the end of each day.
Somewhere between giving birth to little bundles of joy and becoming the social director for two children, I forgot an important truth from my care giving past.
For children life is about the simple pleasures.
As parents we so easily become bogged down with a skewed sense of what is necessary. We ensure that our children have the latest high tech gadget and every accessory that goes with it. We schedule play dates, mommy and me groups, early music classes and more. We find the best workbooks to teach them their letters and offer enough choices in board games to keep the most finicky playmate happy. All of this effort to keep our children happy just creates tired and frustrated moms.
Try these simple ways to entertain the kiddos and use the time saved to find a moment of mom relaxation.
1. Simple Art Time – One of my favorite, peaceful activities with my four and six year olds involves a black crayon, scratch paper, and a tray of old water color paints. Using the black crayon I draw outlines of flowers, animals, the sun, favorite characters and more on the blank side of old paper to be recycled. My children then fill in the pictures with water color paint. They are always amazed that I can draw a “perfect” circle with a smiley face and I always applaud them for the rare moments they keep the paint inside the lines…or at least on the paper.
2. Shaving Cream in the Tub – Who needs a sunny day for a water table? Put the kids in their bathing suits, fill up the tub, and hand them a can of aerosol shaving cream. Who can write their name on the wall? Who can build a tower of foam? For some added fun allow the kids to add color to their creations with diluted food coloring and pipettes.
3. Craft Dough – Every time I parent help at my son’s school I am amazed at how peaceful our time is at the dough table. While making rows of pretend pizzas and cookies, we enjoy chatting calmly. With easy do-it-yourself dough recipes available online or brand name dough available at a reasonable price, this old favorite should not be overlooked.
4. Power Down Time – Grab a few flashlights or battery-powered lanterns, a stack of books, and a cozy blanket and force your own family power outage. The novelty of a forced black out will entertain the kids while the gadget free time will give everyone’s eyes and ears and much needed rest.
What works for you?