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Survival Kit for a Stay-at-Home Mom

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Do you ever feel like you are about to lose your mind? Do you ever feel like you're failing as a parent, as a mother? Are you always on the lookout for new activities or toys to keep your child entertained? And, are you ever in despair to find something for your child to play with on his own because you have a million chores yet to do around the house?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you're not alone. I feel your pain! Having three kids under 4 is not easy, and these days I am having nervous breakdowns every weekend. Thank G-d for my husband, who is there to comfort me and remind me how blessed we are to have such a wonderful family. And, the wonderful hugs and kisses I get from my boys everyday complemented by 'I love you mama!' - there is no better reward than that.

Here is a manual of my favourite activities to do at home with my kids (preschooler, toddler, and infant). What I like about these activities is that you can do them using mostly things you have at home.


#1 - Go Outside - A short walk or some outdoor play - at a playground is ideal - should be part of every day! Both, you and your child need a change of scenery, and fresh air and play are very healthy for you!

#2 - Keep a Baker's Box in the kitchenRegardless whether you have a boy or a girl at home running around, playing in the kitchen and with kitchen utensils is what kids like most. I suspect it's mainly because they see you in the kitchen most of the time, and try to imitate what you're doing. In any case, a lot of your work time at home is probably spent in the kitchen, and your child will naturally want to be with you. My boys are still big fans of kitchen cupboards and drawers; they are full of interesting things that prove to be irresistible at all times:). So, why not provide your child with his/her very own Baker's Box? I guarantee you, they will love it, and it will keep them occupied for a some time - hopefully, on their own. 

My toddler continues to check out out all the kitchen cupboards within his reach while I'm in the kitchen, and I constantly feel nervous that he will grab something breakable and hurt himself. So I finally put together a baker's box exclusively for him with tools safe for play, and stored it in a safe place in the kitchen within his reach. Here are some suggestions a Baker's Box:
  • plastic measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • plastic cookie cutters (make sure they're not sharp)
  • muffin tin
  • rubber spatula
  • plastic bowls
  • plastic lemon juicer
  • small and large metal bowls
  • small plastic spoons
  • plastic containers

#3 - Make your own Playdough that's safe to eat - There are many home-made playdough recipes out there; some require cooking, some are no-cook, some can be eaten, and some cannot. Choose the recipe that works best for you. Here are my favourites:

Oatmeal Playdough - This is not an edible playdough, but will not hurt kids if they eat it.
Ingredients: 1 part flour,  part water, 2 parts oatmeal
Directions: Mix ingredients together well and knead until smooth.

Peanut Butter Playdough - Eat all you want! (for ages 1+ without nut allergies)
Ingredients: 18oz. peanut butter, 6 tablespoons honey, non-fat dry milk or milk plus flour, optional: cocoa or carob for chocolate flavour
Directions: Mix all ingredients together, adding enough dry milk or milk plus flour to give dough the right consistency. Shape, decorate with other edible treats, and eat!

#4 - Bake with your kids - Aggression Cookies - This is one recipe your child can truly make all by himself. (for ages 2.5 years+)
Ingredients: 3 cups oatmeal, 1-1/2 cups brown sugar, 1-1/2 cups flour, 1-1/2 cups butter or margarine, 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Directions: Dump all the ingredients into a large bowl and let your child really go at it! Pound it, punch it, knead it... the longer, the better! When ready to bake, roll dough into small balls and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.

#5 - Have a Busy Box handy - I keep a small square toddler/preschooler friendly table with 2 chairs in the kitchen for my boys with crayons, colouring books, stickers, construction paper, and so on; basically, anything crafty my boys enjoy to do on their own. You can do the same or keep a Busy Box stored in the kitchen that is low enough for your child to reach. Here are some suggestions for your child's very own Busy Box:
  • crayons
  • paper
  • colouring books
  • stickers
  • construction paper
  • playdough
  • ink stamps
  • tracing sheets
  • activity books
  • markers
  • glue
  • scissors
  • tape
Depending on your child's age, choose items that are safe, and use the format to best suit your child's needs. 

#6 - Indoor Camping - This activity will require some floor space and is suitable for your family room, playroom, living room or basement. 
You'll need: a small tent (I use an easy pop-out one for my boys - it's also great to use for sunny vacations with an infant), pillows, sleeping bags/blanket, flashlights, marshmallows or munchies
What to do? Set up your tent, have your child lay out the sleeping bag/blankets and pillows inside, give your child a flashlight and turn the lights off. Eat marshmallows and sing songs. If you have a fireplace at home, skip the tent and camp out in front of the fireplace. And if you have a guitar player in the family, strum on it and sing along!

#7 - Night at the Movies - Watch a special family video, cartoon, program or movie together as a family. Prepare the movie and special snacks and snuggle together under a blanket or lie on the floor. Dim the lights and have a special snack together.

#8 - Sort the Laundry - Teach your child a practical skill and give your child some household responsibility at the same time. Show your child how to sort and fold laundry after you wash it (or before it as well). My kids love helping me loading and unloading the laundry and pressing the different buttons on the laundry machines, or pouring out all the clean laundry onto the bed:).

#9 - Music & Rhythm - Make some Shakers - Use different size plastic bottles or containers with lids to make your own shakers. Fill each with anything that will create noise: dried corn, rice, dried beans, pennies, and so on. Use variety of items to create different sounds. Tape around the lid to make sure it doesn't come off. And, remember to fill your plastic containers only half way.

#10 - Learn the ABCs or counting with fridge magnets - Place magnetic letters or numbers (you can buy these from the dollar store, or get a more complete set with picture magnets from one of the toy stores) on your fridge or freezer - make sure they are within your child's reach - and practice letters/sounds/numbers with your child. For this activity your child would need to have had some exposure to learning and recognizing letters and/or numbers. What I do is usually call out a letter and say "Where is A? Can you bring me A? What begins with A? Bring me the apple.", and so on. Then, once you've practiced a good chunk of letters/numbers, you can ask your child to stick everything back to the fridge or freezer. My toddler loves this game.

Save money by making your own art and craft supplies, such as playdough, kitchen toys, and more. Stimulate your child's natural curiosity about our world with many fun reading, math and practical household activities. Encourage your child's physical, mental and emotional growth with ideas for music, dance, drama, and outdoor play.

You can do it, trust me!!! 

Disclosure: All opinions are my own.

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