My four year old and I have a lot of down time these days. My husband sleeps until 830am and she is up around 6am most days. He also naps for 4-5 hours in the afternoon. That’s 7 or so hours a day that she needs to be kept relatively quiet and that I need to spend time with her so that she is not feeling the lack of a daddy. And that’s not even considering the time spent in waiting rooms at doctors offices.
The point is, we have an enormous amount of time that we need to be kept from thinking too much about terrible things, or worrying too much, or just having as much fun together as we can without being able to leave the house.
She absolutely plays by herself for a lot of that time most days. I’m not an entertainment machine 24 hours a day. She plays pretend with her barbies or her baby dolls or her stuffed animals. She cooks food in her toy kitchen, she reads books, she watches Youtube or plays games on her Kindle or her her laptop. She does a lot of things on her own, but some days she’s not up to it and as full time caregiver to both her and my dying husband that’s where I have to step in and keep her happy and quiet so my husband can get the sleep he needs.
My first goal was to turn my husband’s afternoon nap in to a fun event for Pepper and I. The first few weeks she was just sad every afternoon when he went to sleep and she was left with no daddy to play with for hours and hours. I finally figured out a solution that works and is still working several weeks later.
I turned his nap time in to an event for the two girls. Pepper tucks her daddy in to for his nap and kisses him goodnight. We close the bedroom door to try and keep as much noise as possible away from him so he can rest. Then we open the window to let the sunshine in. And she gets to choose an activity from the craft box I’ve been curating. Many crafts from Dollar Tree, Michael’s, and Hollar. We do one craft every afternoon if it’s just me and her for nap time.
We give the budget a little bit of a break on days she has grandparents over to play with her.
These are a small selection of the crafts we’ve done so far!
A craft fills perhaps 20-45 minuets in the afternoon. Sometimes far longer. Often that is enough focused mom time to get her in to the afternoon routine of quiet playing.
If it doesn’t though, we might pull out the crafty stuff box, an assortment of art supplies, pom poms, paints, pipe cleaners, construction paper, stickers, Popsicle sticks, etc. Just things that don’t go with a specific craft that she can use to be creative.
We might also read books, do some homeschooling bookwork, write stories, play board games, make up new games, or break out the play doh.
Waiting in doctors office we have to be more creative and even more quiet. That is mostly reserved for kindle games, sticker books, and coloring.
We’re making it work so far, but it can be exhausting.
Where do you buy assembled craft kits? We’re on a very tight budget and I don’t have the mental energy left after caring for these two 24 hours a day to seek out or assemble activities. Grab and go is the name of the game here. We really like the Melissa and Doug or Alex craft kits because you can open the box and have everything you need to complete a project, or several. She gets to do one project a day so kits often span several days for us. We’re still always looking for a great deal to make the budget stretch farther.
What do you use to entertain your children when you need to keep them calm and quiet for long stretches?