I've Googled it too...
We've all been in this place...
And here we are AGAIN...
What am I going to do with these guys ALL SUMMER LONG?
You've read my suggestion of giving your children Time to Play...
But with What?
I mean the Real Kind...
You know the little ones...
Some of us have the built in playmates with the siblings...
But there is the option of the Play Date.
The problem I have with play dates is that often the 2 or more Adults interrupt the children from getting into some good, clean fun...
However, if you just offer to babysit a friend's child and hopefully they are into the Vice Versa deal ;) :)
(Let's face it, we have some healthy ulterior motives here ;)
The children will be able to focus on getting into some deep play together. And after some practice and some consistency on your part...
You will also have some time for your own Agenda.
Ok...getting into what you really want to know here...
1. Set up some boundaries
- "It's hard to see the forest, for the trees" kind of deal. When everything is a choice, children are often overwhelmed with decision making.
- Limit the options: Right now, the choices are blocks or art supplies.
- With limited options, your children will learn to be more creative with what is available.
- If necessary, set some time constraints. These are your choices while Mama is cooking dinner...folding the laundry...reading my book ;)
- When children are aware of the boundaries, they begin to feel free to explore within those lines. They will stop testing the boundaries (as long as you are clear with them) and begin to go deeper within their play.
2. Settle in with a New everyday Rhythm.
- I have a hard time with this one... Try to find some consistency in your weeks. And have it written down somewhere for the kids and you to look at and review each day.
- On Mondays, we have our field trip day...Tuesdays we will have your friend over to play...Wednesdays after Mommy works we will have a cooking project...Etc...Find what your family values most and Schedule it in! Doesn't matter if you work or don't work, find a family Rhythm.
- Schedule time for your child to have at least an hour or 2 of uninterrupted play Every Day!!! Be sure they know that this is part of the family rhythm.
3. Have Open Ended Materials for your children
- I say materials instead of Toys because kids often crave "adult" like things to play with.(notepads, real kitchen spoons, bowls, a computer keyboard to take apart with real screwdrivers!)
- Dollar store has the best stuff ever!!! Yes, it's all made in China, but we can only focus our global energy efforts so much ;) At least for the summer...
- Ask GrandMa what she played with and loved as a child...Real flour, Natural Earth Materials (Water, Sand, Dirt, leaves, etc...)
- Materials that can be combined in interesting and new ways each time your child sits down to play with. (Lids, corks, paper towel tubes; blocks with beads; playdough and toothpicks, etc...)
- Think of and prepare your child for the clean up method... Offering the boundaries before the play begins..."You can play with these materials in the water table (a plastic bin makes a great portable water table" and then when your play time is over, we will set them on this towel to dry and then we will put them back into the container to store until next time."
- Help your child understand they will be responsible for part of the clean up before they begin the play. This helps them to consider how they will use the materials and then no one is shocked when play time is over and they are not overwhelmed with clean up.
4. It's ok to say No
- When you find yourself feeling out of control and really overwhelmed, that's when it's usually time to Say "No".
- Definitely treat it with respect, not overusing it, and always following through when you do say it. Make it an important word with real meaning behind it.
- While it's hard to be the "bad guy" sometimes, your child will respect you for having fortitude about certain things.
- Children don't want to be making all the decisions, it's exhausting and overwhelming for them. They want to know Mom or Dad is able to make a decision and stand by it.
And of course...the last rule that is on any Long list of Rules (especially at swimming pools) which seems a little Ironic...