Project Joy // No. 5

Hi there, Blogfolie! Olivia again, with a bunch of ideas for passing the time with your little ones while you are on your extended Spring Break ;) 

I have a four-year-old daughter and a 22-month-old son who are different as can be, and keeping them both happy & busy is nothing short of exhausting. If it weren’t against all the rules of social distancing, I would track down all of the preschool teachers in the world right now and give them big hugs and kisses!

In the meantime, I’m trying to maintain a reasonable amount of routine and structure in our days. Regular meal times and snack times, regular nap and quiet times, et cetera. 

Getting outside as much as possible, even when it’s snowing (although I could really be done with the snow already, come on). We are very lucky to live near lots of lovely trails and open space parks, but the backyard is saving us just as much. We’ve gotten creative with scavenger hunts, snowball fights, picnics and s’mores. We love to collect leaves and other little treasures on our walks and use them for “nature painting” and sun catchers. We love to draw with sidewalk chalk and paint on the sidewalk with water.

Staying active when we’re stuck indoors has been important too. We do yoga, we have “crazy run-around time,” and we do lots and lots of dance parties. We build forts and pretend playgrounds and obstacle courses, and we have indoor snowball fights using socks or crumpled up tissue paper. (And for my own sanity, I try to get 20-30 minutes of yoga or other exercise in, usually while the babies are napping.)

Crafts and activities: I’m incredibly thankful that my kids are little enough that they’re not missing out on any super-important learning, but I am trying to keep up with the letter of the day stuff that my daughter has been working on in preschool. Thankfully, there is Pinterest (friends, what did we do before Pinterest?! Those were dark times). It was easy to find letter-tracing worksheets and letter crafts, and there are so many other brilliant ideas that take very little set-up. We’re definitely digging into our craft cart more than we have in a long long time, and I’m here for it!

Chores and helping: My kids love to help! They’ll help with cleaning, laundry, cooking, feeding our pets, just about anything, as long as they’re in the right mood (that part can be tricky).

Mindfulness and gratitude are part of our daily routine. Yesterday morning, out of the blue, my daughter said, “Let’s make a Happy List of all the ways to be kind!” Things like writing letters to our friends and family, baking cookies for our neighbors, sharing toys with baby brother, and cooperating at bedtime all made the list. Heart, melted. We also have a dinnertime practice where we each tell about our most favorite part of the day. 

Movie nights: Because sometimes you just need a break. Make some popcorn, fire up Disney Plus, and snuggle on the couch with the ones you love most. You can even use the movie as inspiration for play the next day -- when my daughter was in her Moana phase, we had SO many inside beach adventures!

I’ve found that the days go most smoothly when I have a few fun ideas up my sleeve for when boredom strikes (especially when we’re stuck indoors), but I try not to over-schedule or force any of them. In the end, children learn through play, so all they really need is a safe and loving environment where they can do just that.

I hope you’ve found a tiny bit of inspiration here. How are you keeping your little ones busy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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