Nowadays, with the girls a bit under the weather and my having only one helper, we’ve been spending a lot of time at home. Naturally, the two chubby children want to be literally stuck to me the whole day! How do I keep them entertained (and out of my hair)?
1. Good old pretend play!
One blessing of living on a lean budget is that we do not have the luxury of buying our daughters any fancy high-tech toy (read: no iPads, iPods, Playstations, computer games, etc.). So, to make up for what they don’t know they’re missing, we rely on our human powers to entertain them! There’s more to low-tech high-dramatic play than meets the eye. Many modern educators have written about the value of old-fashioned pretend play in the development of children. For one, children get to exercise their creativity when you give them the opportunity to get into “live” dramatic play. (Tip: Let them come up with their own props, instead of buying them a doctor set or a grocery set!) My girls like to make a house under our dining table, or a makeshift office out of our chairs. Reese, my three-year-old, opens a storybook and pounds on it saying that it is her “laptop.” A friend keeps her preschoolers entertained by giving them cardboard boxes and crayons, out of which they make their house and car.
2. Read, read, read!
Unplug the TV, and have a reading afternoon. Consider reading to your children as an investment. Imagine them reading on their own someday! Then, you can have your own life back! I, for one, dream of reading my own books again.
3. Cook together.
It can be the most simple of recipes, but your child can learn so much when you cook together. Cooking combines math and literacy lessons in one go. Once I drew pictures for a three-step French toast recipe. Reese read the recipe, and we made French toast together for breakfast. Do set safety guidelines before you start cooking. Ideas of simple recipes? Making fresh orange juice, preparing your own sandwich or…pizza pandesal!
4. Do house chores together.
“Educational” does not only consist of activities that will teach your kids their 123’s and ABCs. My husband and I definitely want our girls to learn to pitch in with “homework.” The other day, I was getting so irritated because Reese wanted to stay with me in the laundry room. She didn’t want to play with her toys. Finally, I gave up and told her she could toss in her dirty clothes into the washing machine. She was so delighted! On hindsight, I’m glad I got her involved. After all, I don’t want her to keep hearing that she can’t help me out when she’s so interested in cleaning, cooking, and other adult humdrum chores. How will I reverse it when she’s old enough to really take on her fair share of house chores? (Jack and I do envision a future with no helpers—as strange as it may sound in our yaya-dependent culture.)
Even with these activities, I still have pockets of time during the day when I’m at a loss as to what to do with my mile-a-minute girls. What to do then? Turn on the DVD, and play Hi-Five!…during which I drink my coffee and breathe before the next round.