We recently moved and are dealing with typical transition issues with our kids: extra clinginess, trouble sleeping in a new house, and general moving stress. Next came the dreaded stomach bug, which left various family members sick over the course of the last week. Finally, our area was hit with Hurricane Sandy-related snow yesterday, causing schools to close.
Because of all this we’ve been homebound much more than is typical for us. It’s been hectic and stressful and my kids have been more than just a little bit stir-crazy.
With 3 kids ages 3, 5, and 9, all of this “togetherness” can cause the sibling version of World War III. If your kids are like mine, sometimes they just need space, but they’re still too young to direct their own play.
Thankfully I have a little trick up my sleeve for times like this.
I set up stations in my house and plan activities all of my kids enjoy in each room. For example, my daughter’s room might be the “house” room, with a play kitchen, dolls, and a tea set. My 5 year old’s room might be the “transportation” room, set up with cars, a train track, and transportation puzzles. My 9 year old’s room may have LEGOs and games, a Play-Dough station is at the kitchen table with cookie cutters, and the family room has short videos ready for them to watch.
My kids get to pick a station and spend 20 minutes there playing independently (or with a sibling if they choose to). After the timer goes off they rotate.
This isn’t rocket science but the trick is in making each “station” seem inviting and special. I find that if I allow them to make their own choices they’re more likely to enjoy what they’re doing, and keeping it age-appropriate is key.
It also has the bonus of giving me some time to myself, which is the real sanity-saver!
What mom tricks do you have up your sleeve? Share in the comments!
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Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.