Every once in a while, somebody asks how I do what I do with three young children. Here’s an attempt to explain what parenting and daily life looks like in my house:
- You don’t see what I don’t do. I rarely cook meals that get more than one pan dirty (we eat lots of soups and casseroles), my house is never spotless, and I don’t do many academic activities with my children. I very rarely go to a store of any sort more than once a week.
- I’m a pretty mellow mom. Not a personality trait I would have given myself before children.
- I was raised by an very mellow mother, and she is the single largest influence on me when it comes to deciding how to parent my children.
- My mother once told me that, in her experience, if she spent a couple hours with her young children in the morning focusing on them, she got some time when she could do what she wanted in the afternoon with few interruptions because the children would play together cheerfully. Best advice I’ve ever received.
- I have more than one child. They play together for hours without expecting me to entertain them.
- My children play together really well. This is in large part due to their personalities and the fact that they are close in age, but I also refuse to tolerate fighting. Toys that get fought over get given away to children who want toys enough to not fight over them. Same goes for toys that don’t get picked up. Each child does get a few toys that are “their” toys that they are not expected to share unless they want to.
- We have tile floors everywhere in the house except for the bedrooms and playroom/family room. This makes crafty messes easy to clean up.
- I find that my children are less likely to start dumping out toys just for the sake of dumping out toys if they have spent some time doing something creative earlier in the day.
- I rarely turn on the TV to entertain my children, although there are times when I am very grateful for its existence. This means that I need to find other ways to engage them so I can get stuff done. Craft activities work very well.
- I like crafts and my kids do too. Both Emma and Johnny are happily entertained by a few sheets of paper and markers/crayons/pens.
- Emma never draws on things she isn’t supposed to – except for herself (and sometimes Johnny). Johnny only does when he’s in a particularly bad mood.
- I don’t worry about making “pretty” crafts with my kids. For young children like mine, I feel like it’s all about the experience of making something, not the end result.
- I don’t schedule crafts or activities. I’ve tried that, and in our house it doesn’t work very well. Instead, I keep an ongoing list of ideas of things I want to try or make and then pick one based on our collective household mood on a given day.
- I’m a pragmatist, not a perfectionist.
- I stay away from crafts that require a lot of prep, and work the cleanup factor into the equation when I’m deciding whether or not to try an activity. I don’t mind uncooked rice because it’s easy to clean up, but you won’t find glitter in my house because it sticks. To everything. Maybe when the kids are a little older…
- We save the messiest activities for when Daddy is out of town, because I tend to clean those up completely only after the kids are in bed for the night.
- I have a HUGE support network: the best husband ever, nine siblings, two parents, all four grandparents, my husband’s three surviving grandparents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, and some fantastic friends. Since these people are spread across several time zones, there’s always someone I can call, and all are sources of inspiration. Plus, I have blogland, where people come up with fantastic ideas of things to make and do and comments brighten gloomy days.
What are your tips and tricks for doing what you do?