Wednesday, April 21, 2010

spending more time on toddlers

As usual, there's not enough of me to go around. Lately I've found myself spending the majority of the morning (8-11:30am) working with the older kids, while the younger boys just do their own thing. Oh, I check on them, hug them, give them things to play with and do... but I certainly haven't been spending the time on the fun pre-K things I intended to accomplish; things I used to do all the time.

Gosh, the things I want to do.
There aren't enough blog posts to go over it all. How can there be so much to accomplish and so little time?? How can I possibly succeed at it all?

My Mimi used to tell me that there were enough hours in the day to accomplish what God wanted me to do. So true. The question is then, what does God want me to do with those hours? Another piece of Mimi's wonderful advice: Your family is your first ministry.
Note to self: learn to say "no" more often, to outside obligations. It's a lesson I've been working on for the last five years, but my progress is slow and painful.
Often I even wonder if blogging is worth the time and effort. Why do I do it? Am I out to help and inspire others? Sometimes. Is it an effort to scrapbook and savor the activities my family does together? Sure. Is it worth the time? I believe so. Even if no one reads or comments. Even if a thousand other sites are more inspiring, creative, or better photographed & unique... this is MY time to just be. I can be crafty-me, tired-me, happy-energetic bouncing-on-the-world-me.... and it's all okay, because it is my place. By having my own place, as public as it may be, a part of my mind is allowed to release guilt. No one is hanging on me right now. No one needs a nose wiped or another drink. I'm not spread thin at this moment. They are all tucked into bed. Like I've said before, if I didn't use pieces of this time for renewal, I couldn't function like I need to the next day. Or so I tell myself.
All that to say, guilt is a very motivating force for change. I want to be more. I want to do more. I want to give my children the absolute best of me. So how can I do that, without running myself ragged or falling over drained by noon? I suppose the first step is to establish what the "best of me" actually is. And I believe it's attention. Just good old-fashioned look-you-in-the-eye and smile attention. (It's here that I find the almost unbearable urge to defend myself and talk about how much attention I truly do give my children...don't misunderstand... blah blah blah... you know it all.)

A homeschool mom friend of mine once said that she spends the most time each day teaching the youngest student. For some reason, I've flip-flopped this. Because my ArtistChild is dealing with the most challenging work and my NatureMan is a little more help-needy, I tend to spend the bulk of my time working with them. How can I taper this down, and give my preschool kiddos extra attention? And, are they really lacking? They don't *seem* to be. Is it just guilt talking? Could I be doing this right after all?

Well, it doesn't hurt to tweak things and see if the change will make a difference. I'm trying to re-implement specific pre-K time while the older kids are doing "lighter subjects." (Now Selfish Me talks: this is a sacrifice, because it means dishes and whatnot will wait until nap-time. Sigh.)

Sooooo, the little people have been enjoying extra "work," and the older kids want to tutor them, and do the lighter subjects later. Now that I can handle. Isn't this what it's supposed to be about?? --Working together, learning together, willingness to spread it all out, to get the quality stuff down.
The older kids and I made a color wheel for Little Lad. He has a blast matching the clothespins, which is great for his fine motor skills, too.
More importantly, we're doing this with him, delighting in watching him, and not just handing him another busy-item to keep him out of the way. I'm guilty as charged. I haven't been delighting in the kids like I need to. Like I want to. I get all snippy and tired when I'm...well, tired....or when I've over-planned and my agenda starts to sap my joy.

I'm re-discovering the joy of watching them discover.

We're trying to include the little boys in our afternoon activities, too. A lot of the time, the olders and I will do art or read, do experiments, etc when the littles are napping or playing around us outside. That's fine sometimes, but they really could participate in so many things with us.

This book, for instance, is super-kid-friendly to all ages. As the story progresses, you draw the animals' paths, buildings, obstacles. At the end of the story, the picture is complete. Sorry for the blurry pic-- I've already turned this book in, and can't take another.
The kids all enjoyed it. Together.
In light of this new purpose, I'm linking to and through The Preschool Corner at Homeschool Creations and Kid-Friendly Friday. Check them out, for great ideas!


Erin said...

Hi Wendy~
It's Erin from WI. :)
I haven't checked in for awhile. I so much appreciated this blog. It is right where I am at in life right now as well.

My children are in the public school, so it's just me and my 3yr. old at home during the day. I can get so committed to my kids school and church activities though that I forget (or choose to ignore) that my first job is being wife and mom. My little guy is so content and willing to "go with the flow" that lately I've felt like he gets overlooked too much. And I don't think I'm training him the way God would want me to. My problem has been that I'm not sure how to change that and what it should look like. Life looks much different for me these days compared to how it was when my other kids were 3. I don't feel as energized and creative.

I appreciated your heart and ideas in your blog. So, if you don't mind I think tomorrow I will make a color wheel with my little guy and enjoy the sunshine with him.

Love in Christ ~ Erin

Shan said...

Your Mimi was one smart lady and she passed it all right down the line. You are doing jest fiiine young lassie! But, you are so right about how there aren't enough hours in a day to do what WE think we should do plus what we want to do. Bew hoo.

I'm trying not to panic about my wasted time (which is currently massive). Little by little we make changes...

The Activity Mom said...

great color wheel

Angela said...

Love the color wheel

Ticia said...

That looks like a super cool book. I'm going to have to see if I can find it. I always love stories like that.

Leslie said...

Thank you so much for writing this post. It's so good to know other mamas go through the same kind of struggles. And thank you for sharing your Mimi's advice. Wow. I will hold onto those little nuggets of wisdom.

Brenners said...

Stumbled across your blog through Pinterest.

I really needed to read this post today. Thanks. :)

Emily Kate said...

Hi! Thanks for sharing the color wheel activity. I used it in a busy bag exchange I recently hosted with some friends. I shared your activity and our swap on my blog.

Carrie said...

I love the simplicity yet great learning from the color wheel.

I featured your idea over at my blog - thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I love the color wheel. I think that I may add the names of the colors on the clothespins so my little one starts associating the word with the color as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to homeschooling and this is exactly what I've been personally struggling with. Our biggest problem is also that big brother has a lot of independent work but if I spend any attention on a sibling during that time his work is filled with incorrect answers. I think this is a perfect answer! Part of why we choose to homeschool was to gain a closeness and work better together. Thank you for such an honest post too. I think we all have many of the same thoughts and stuggles!

Quinn said...

This is exactly what I've struggled with for the past year. This year I'm determined to do something about it so we're going to try playing a lot more learning games together, but varying the difficulty per child as needed. I really appreciate your insights as I can see my tendency to go into the "hand them something to keep them busy" mindset so easily... yikes!