I have been worried there is something wrong with my children and with me because I feel like they need to be constantly entertained.
I tell myself it’s their age and the short span of years between them that makes them so not independent. Then I tell myself to be thankful for this time when they still say Mommy, mommy, mommy 1000 times a day. And I think about this morning when they both climbed into bed and snuggled and fell back asleep until 7:15 (a record). And I am thankful. I’m grateful. I am filled up with all the feels. But still, sometimes I wish they could just use their imaginations and do something on their own.
And then strangely, today, they did.
This morning they managed to play- alone together – pretending, doing stickers, singing. Moving from thing to thing and even putting a few things away. What? Who are these people? And further, who am I when I don’t have to keep them occupied?
It was really only a few minutes but I kind of hid in the kitchen and wondered what to do with myself. Should I have a coffee? Eat? Read a book? Should I take advantage of this moment to clean something? As I wasted the whole time wondering what to do, I never actually got to do anything before the fantasy came to an end and they both appeared before me with very serious needs.
This phenomenon happened again in the afternoon. I still hid in the kitchen, as not to jinx my good fortune, but this time I took advantage and read a few pages of a book. Since Little Bean turned two, I try to always have a book in reach. (In the rare event that I might have time to read it.) It keeps me from mindless social media scrolling and more importantly it allows me to model something I hope they will eventually love doing as much as I do–reading an actual book.
After a chapter or so, things were going well so I decided to clean the bathroom. One of my least favorite activities on this earth but with four people at home 24 hours a day, the dirt seems to pile up exponentially.
While cleaning the toilet bowl it dawned on me that in reality if I need to figure out how to run a one person preschool and keep the house clean, I probably just need to let them watch television. It doesn’t sound great but the house isn’t going to clean itself and we can’t live in our own dirt until this quarantine ends.
The next thing I knew Big Sister was there in the bathroom with me asking if I had prepared the craft for craft time during nap time as she had suggested (This kid is 4 going on 40).
Clearly, I have given them the idea that we are doing a craft every day. No wonder they don’t seem independent. Most likely they haven’t been demanding entertainment–I’ve been giving it to them voluntarily!
I’ve gotten them addicted and now I have to cut them off.
We did however do something simple and sweet yesterday that I’ll share with you. Here in Germany all the kids are coloring rainbows and hanging them in the windows so that when kids walk by (walking with family is practically the only outdoor activity allowed in the quarantine rules) they will see the rainbows in the windows and know that they are not alone–that other kids are stuck at home too.
Maybe there is already a movement like that in the USA. But if not, this could be the start of it. If you like the idea please do it with your kids and pass it on.