Around here I am always looking for fun things to do with Elliot while Clementine naps. Once in a blue moon he’ll fall asleep during his “quiet time” but usually he pops up after about 10 minutes of reading books by himself or puttering around in the living room — they share a bedroom so he takes his quiet time on the couch downstairs — and wants to be entertained. And I’m like “seriously you are done ALREADY?” but I keep my mouth shut and then try to remember how much I will miss him when he moves out of the house.
My children are very different; Clementine will play by herself, alone, unprompted, for long beautiful periods of time. Elliot is a more typical first-born, craving adult attention almost constantly. Or he’ll start pestering me to watch TV. I will admit, it’s easy for me to fall into the habit of just letting him watch TV or play games on the tablet while Clementine sleeps, which, when combined with the one hour of Busytown Mysteries or Pink Panther they usually watch in the morning while I shower/chug my coffee/check my email AND the half hour of video games he’s allowed to play while Mr Rae makes dinner starts to add up to more media time than I am comfortable with. And honestly, while my Perfect Self thinks the amount of media time I’d be happiest with is NONE, my Real Self realizes that as much as I’d like to be the Wundermum who doesn’t ever have to rely on TV to entertain my children, it’s not a realistic expectation for me personally. So. I’m happier with a reasonable set of rules for media time than none at all. Currently that’s 1 hour of TV in the morning for both kids, and a half hour of video game time for Elliot before dinner (Clementine sometimes watches him play, but more often plays by herself while he does this).
Which brings me to that hour or two of time in the afternoon when Elliot and I find something to do together. Sometimes we draw pictures or play games. Sometimes I let him sew. I’ve really enjoyed Meg’s Things We Do After Nap series over on Sew Liberated and the websites she links to in this post where she finds more great ideas. And now that Christmas is upon us there’s a bunch more things we can do, including making homemade wrapping paper with potato stamps! I remember making potato stamps as a kid with my mom, so when we got a package from amazon that had a ridiculous amount of packaging in it for the size of the item I saved it for this project. Score!
I’m pretty sure the pictures speak for themselves, but basically I cut a potato in half and used a knife to cut out the two basic shapes here (a star and tree) and then used a couple of 99 cent paint trays at the craft store and sponge brushes to spread out acryllic paint so that the paint would go on the potatoes relatively smoothly. And then we just made an assembly-line style station at his little table and stamped away. He probably lasted about 15 minutes before he got sick of it but there it is: homemade wrapping paper!
I’m always looking for new ideas, so throw them at me if you’ve got them. And what about “media limits?” Are there rules at your house? For kids or even yourself? I am infinitely interested in this topic.