let's get through the next hour
It’s 10 a.m. and I’ve been up for 5 hours already. My husband will be home in 8 hours. I have two little people that have the combined attention span of about 5 minutes, so entertaining them for 13 hours really shouldn’t be that hard. I can think of more difficult things to sustain. Like the plank position. Or being excited about watching golf on TV. Or understanding the MTA employee telling us train changes over the intercom.
Okay it’s really hard. Not so much hard as in, I have to take the LSAT or I need to run a marathon. But more hard like, trying to nail jello to a wall. That kind of hard. My brain starts to melt but not in the pleasurable, ‘watch-downton-abbey-again’ kind of way. It melts in the I-can’t-remember-if-I-took-my-zoloft kind of way. So lately we’ve started doing lots of activities and art projects (and I mark when I’ve taken my zoloft on the calendar with a crayon). I’ve found all sorts of mommies online, beacons in the sea of baby boredom, who have fabulous ideas about how to stimulate brains (mine and my kids’). I’d love to share with you what works for us right now and all the fabulous benefits as a result because I feel that I should pay it forward. Speaking of paying it forward, I must tell you the mom who’s been the most helpful to me. Her name is also Jamie (but she spells it the other way) and she’s the bees’ knees, she’s the sidekick to my Klonopin and she seems like a nice gal too. She and her team always respond to my desperate questions that I should really be able to answer on my own but alas, cannot right now. You can find her here.
Anyway, onto activities and oh my gosh, it takes an eternity to unload the dishwasher, how will I ever do anything else, oh and look he's writing on the wall, maybe because he's as bored as I am. This is how I felt most of the time.
I started doing these activities when I joined one of Jamie's 7 day challenges. I already had basic art supplies (crayons, paper, markers and a smidge of paint). I started like I start any meaningful thing that I want to do, slowly and with lots of grace for myself. If we didn't get to an activity that day, no sweat. Lower the bar, like bury it under the ground.
After that, my next steps were to purchase a shower curtain/tarp (that one is machine washable) and then to let go of my expectations (would he like it? would it work?). Spoiler alert, the kids don't care if it doesn't go to plan. They're totally not keeping score.
Then I had to decide what I could deal with and what I couldn't. Making homemade play dough, sure! Filling an entire bin with corn meal and letting him have it? Um, nope. The great thing about Jamie's activities is that they are really easy to implement. But mama, we all know that sometimes even the easiest things feel huge. It's okay. This is not a sprint (though I'm told by folks with grown kids, that it will sure feel like it later). We're just throwing stuff at the wall and hoping it doesn't stick.
Are you trying to find ways to get through the day? Wishing that you had endless resources to buy tons of toys? (Great news, you don’t need tons of toys). You're not alone. Not by a long shot! We are here for each other and unlike your toddler, I won't follow you into the bathroom.
Arrange the tape on the paper in a Mondrian style (see the picture above). Then let your kiddo have at it! He/she can color with crayons, markers or paint (crayola non-toxic washable finger paint is great). Then gently peel the tape off. Wha-La! This is just one of the many great ideas I've found thanks to Jamie.
Another great supply to have around is butcher paper. This one roll will last for a year or more and it allows for kids to spread out and make BIG art. You can’t do tape resist projects with this paper (the paper will tear when you remove the tape) but there’s so much else you can do! If you don’t have any paint on hand, you can put a little water in 4 bowls and then a touch of food coloring in each one. Earn extra points if you make two more bowls with orange (yellow and red) and purple (blue and red). They can use their fingers (it will stain the skin for a while, like a slushie on your mouth) but it’s edible. The cheapest paint brush or q-tips will work too.
If you’re just starting out, I would recommend crayola markers, crayons and paint and some butcher paper. My little one wasn’t really into art until around age 2. It’s a good idea to make sure they’re getting out of the ‘put everything in my mouth’ stage before you use too many art supplies. In the beginning Caspian would test me and hold a crayon up to his mouth with a sly smile. He eventually ate a little too. That’s all right; non-toxic/organic, same thing!
Don't get me wrong; there are many days, when the wheels still come off. Small children can make time stand still in the best and worst ways. Sometimes I don't even realize that the minutes are flying by while I watch my son and marvel at the shape of his eyes when he smiles and wonder at the incredibly sweet smell of my 7 month old daughter. Then the next moment, I feel every minute as an eternity, while I'm trying to pick up a screaming child, who is pretending that he has no armpits or bones. That's just part of it.
With these activities, I can check off some boxes in my head, that make me feel (no matter how the day looked moment to moment) that I had made a good choice and a sound investment into my child's well being and our relationship too. That's a given. The bonus is that most of the time, we have fun too.