If you have a young child in your life, you probably won’t have any time to take a few moments out and drink a cup of hot coffee. As most caregivers spend the majority of their time meeting the basic physical and emotional needs of their children, looking after themselves or their home is constantly put on the back burner. But does the house really need vacuuming? Instead of cleaning the house top to bottom, it may be enough just to clean the room you spend most time in. Does the laundry need folding? Well, this week, just ironing the shirts and hanging them up may be a short-term fix. It’s no big deal if you wear other items straight from the clothes airer.
There is only one important thing we shouldn’t exclude from our daily routine, and that is the basic social and emotional needs of our family. Anything else—and we mean anything else—that requires your time and which you relegate down your list will sort itself out one way or another.
Kids love playing with their toys, but they also like to copy what the adults around them are doing. Try to include your children as much as possible in your normal, everyday activities. This will give you some time for yourself as well as allow your child to observe. It will also create an opportunity for them to take responsibility for the things going on in the house. Here are five ways to create an interesting activity for your child, while giving you a few precious “me” moments
- Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a handheld vacuum cleaner!
A few crumbs are likely to fall on the floor during the evening meal. While you sip your after-dinner cup of coffee, your child could clean up the crumbs with a handheld vacuum cleaner. Children love to play with real household items. And it can be great fun to listen in as they play while they clean up. The handheld vacuum might turn into a spaceship escaping the asteroid belt; or a car zooming along a rocky road; or even a blue whale gobbling up plankton. The only limit is your child’s imagination!
- What do you say to a delicious fruit salad?
How about having a fruit salad party tonight? Take any fruit you have at home and in sufficient quantities for everyone in the household, and wash well. So that this activity doesn’t leave your kitchen in such a mess that you end up crying “What have I done?”, make sure the fruit you choose isn’t too juicy, can be easily peeled, and is appropriate for your child to handle. Bananas and easy-to-chop apples and pears are good go-tos. Suggest to your child that they carefully dry the pieces of fruit, cut them up, and put them into a nice big fruit bowl.
This suggestion will go down well, and your child will be excited to get stuck in. Make sure to take all necessary safety precautions first. Giving them a knife of a size and type suitable for their age and preparing an appropriate environment will be a big encouragement to them. Take a favorite drink, sit back, and watch them as they go about their task. They may choose to cut the fruit in different sizes. As you are tucking into your fruit salad, a great talking point for the whole family would be all the different shapes. And finally—always remember to praise your child!
- Time to get grating
Let’s continue with kitchen tasks. You can ask your child to help grating foods such as carrots and cheese, which can be grated in large amounts in one go, and stored to eat as and when required. Spread a large sheet on the floor, prepare the necessary utensils, and let the show begin! Grating can be tricky, of course. If you don’t feel that traditional graters are appropriate for your child’s motor skills, think about getting a rotary grater, which is perfect for kids to use. While your child is busy with this exciting new task, you can take some personal time for 15–20 minutes.
- We’re folding napkins
If there’s a kid in the house, there’s always a reason to celebrate something or other. Choose a particular event or occasion to celebrate this evening, and ask your child to help set the table. You could take out your special guest napkins and ask them to fold them specifically for the person who will be using them. Not only is this a perfect job to develop their fine motor skills, but it’s also a fantastic way of encouraging their creativity. Your child might be very nimble and you may rapidly be presented with an array of differently folded napkins. They may want to show them to you one by one and you could ask questions about their creations while sipping that cup of coffee.
- Sweet-smelling flowers in a vase
Every now and then, you could buy some fresh flowers for your home. As carefully placing flower stems one by one in a vase is not a usual activity for children, they may find this intriguing. Put some water in a vase and tell your child that you’re excited to see what sort of display they are going to create with the flowers. Give them an age-appropriate pair of scissors and ask them to cut off a small piece at the bottom of each stem. You may ask them to repeat this bit when you refresh the water every couple of days.
Many of the basic things that you do throughout the day are brand-new activities for children; it will take them a lot of time to accomplish them, and require a level of concentration. If you reconsider your daily routines with this in mind, activities that are appropriate to your lifestyle and your child’s development can become a part of your everyday life. Sharing your lives like this is a wonderful way to live.