To Parents with arms full of littles (Birth -3)…
Over the next couple of weeks we are going to walk through some practical uses of PLAtime boxes when you have multiple children. Knowing that summer is coming and all our kids are going to be home and want our attention, these posts will equip you for maximum relational investment with each child. We are going to start with some help for those of you with arms full of little ones.
I hear your heart, and as my three kids have grown through the years I have even lived similar worries. Clearly communicating that your older kids have not been replaced and being sure the younger ones learn all they need to know can be daunting. Trying to give everyone equal time and opportunity while trying to encourage their self-sufficiency is hard to do. Additionally, trying to get them to love each other and play together rather than fight over a toy neither one really wants is exhausting. Your heart wants to spend quality one-on-one time with each child but there is a predominantly squeaky one that requires you for nourishment. So how do you balance?
When I was in your season here are some ways I would use activities like we have included in our Summer Box to create time with my kids and between my kids. Doing this consistently not only gave me the time I wanted with my kids, it allowed us to grow closer throughout the summer.
Planning -While your infant naps, prepare a transition activity and set it aside (i.e. storytime, snuggletime, bath time, puzzles, sharing preschool jokes/riddles, playdoh, coloring, etc.). Choose something that everyone likes to do together.
Structure - If you have a third child, teach them “alone time” with some special toys you keep packed away just for those alone moments. (See our blog on “Alone Time” for how to use this concept in your family)
Advance - Now, engage this week’s targeted child with only one activity from the newest PLAtime box. Set a gentle vibrating timer on your phone for 15 – 20 minutes. Empty out a corner of a room by kicking the toys out of the way and sit side by side with your child so neither of you can see the rest of the toys (or the house)- just the clean cornerJ . Follow the PLA Steps and be fully together. If you chose to do so, silently think on the Scripture and invite God into your time.
Return -When the timer tells you to wrap up, begin to clean up. While cleaning, help your child dream out loud about when they get to play with or lead their siblings in the activity. If the sibling is an infant who must grow, use phrases like “wont’ it be fun when _______ can build with you while mommy works”; “what are you most excited to play with _________?” “You two will have so much fun together!” Collect the alone time participant and move through the transition activity into free play/mom work time until the youngest wakes.
-OPTION 1 DEBRIEF: At snacktime, when the youngest is secured in a high chair or seat, ask the child to tell the siblings about what you did during PLAtime and maybe show them an item that would be safe for the infant to hold (because they will want itJ). Ask the child to share their favorite part that they are most excited to play with their siblings while you help the youngest eat. This will give you an opportunity to hear what your child enjoyed from the activity as well as repeating it for their memory and building their sibling relationship.
-OPTION 2 DEBRIEF: while you feed the baby, let the child you did the activity with lead the other child through it in the same room; only give cues when absolutely necessary or for safety; alternate weeks with each child.
At PLAtime we want you to enjoy the time with your kids this summer. Our Boxes and Activities come ready to use and fully equipped for relational learning and fun. If you haven’t downloaded our free activity, try it from our shop. If you have any questions shoot us an email at the address below on how we can help.
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