My question: What do you do with a three-year-old and a one-year-old all day? Is it even worth planning things to do? Sometimes I plan crafts, games, activities and it takes for ever to get it all gathered only to have them interested for five minutes. Is this season just about surviving? Or is there a way to make the REALLY LONG DAYS go by any quicker at all?
I have a lot of help, family that lives close by, a husband that works from home, and a housekeeper once a week. My girls sleep 12 hours a night and take a two hour nap every day. With all that I’m still at a loss with what to do with them! Usually all my bright creative ideas are gone by 8:30 am…and I won’t even bring up the long afternoons. What does a mother do when she’s not homeschooling, when nothing has to be done, and she’s faced with two very energetic children who have the attention span of 5 minutes?
I remember feeling this way. I remember feeling like I was just. killing. time.
Now, however, I don't own my time. The pace is so frenetic out of necessity that my attention span is about the same as a gnat's, I eat on the fly or while feeding the baby or reading aloud, I help one with grammar while I oversee the math of another, and I spend any free time I have planning menus, shopping lists, school projects, and a million other lists that have to be made in order for anything to be done smoothly. If there is a major project to be done (right now I'm painting our office cabinetry), it has to wait until after 8 p.m. and it pushes anything else aside (like exercising). In this season, there is no time to kill.
Because my view is what it is, I look back on life with two little ones and think of a hundred things I wish I'd done:
♥ memorize more Scripture, both myself and with them
♥ organize my recipes into a system that works long term
♥ learn to garden and grow most of our summer produce
♥ keep up-to-date files of our photos
♥ learn to cook ethnic cuisines we like
♥ read the classics I haven't read
♥ sew simple clothing items in sizes they'll wear down the road
♥ take nature walks and let them really take it all in
♥ teach them to swim
♥ learn Latin
♥ brush up my Spanish and French
♥ play the piano daily
♥ take courses from The Teaching Company
♥ study theology
♥ make all our Christmas gifts
♥ write letters of encouragement
When I survey the list above, I see that many of these things can be done with little ones:
♥ memorize more Scripture- make index cards for memorizing and charts to track progress. Liberally give stickers for each verse memorized.
♥ learn to garden and grow most of our summer produce- give them their own small patch of the garden (or pots on the patio) and let them toss some sunflower seeds in the dirt. I am always amazed at the fact that the little ones can neglect sunflower seeds all summer long but in the end, their production is better than mine.
♥ learn to cook ethnic cuisines we like- let them help you roll up burritos or pat out the dough for Indian naan.
♥ read the classics I haven't read- aloud to them, preferably while they are captive, such as in a high chair or bathtub. They don't have to understand all the nuances of Jane Austen, but they will be enriched by the language and your voice, and you will have accomplished something.
♥ take nature walks and let them really take it all in- find a lovely park, beach, or foothill setting and pack a picnic. Have no expectations. Just take their little shoes off and let them explore. Bonus: our nature days tend to make the little ones take longer naps.
♥ teach them to swim- my favorite place to take my little ones is to the beach. It's a giant sandbox and a natural babysitter.
♥ learn Latin- you may want them to study Latin in your homeschool. Now is your opportunity to become familiar with its grammar and you can teach them the Latin alphabet while you're at it.
♥ play the piano daily- and let them dance around you in joy!
♥ make all our Christmas gifts- so many ideas out there. Start here.
♥ write letters of encouragement- together you can bless so many people, from shut-ins to missionaries abroad to children in need.
It's late and I know that if my mind were fresher (and less distracted!), I could come up with many more ideas for you. I hope this list has given you ideas of your own. Anyone else have ideas to share?