I’m writing this impromptu post from Grayson, GA, where we are under a ‘chill warning’ as the temps dip below 30 (gasp!) With all the time stuck inside today, I thought I’d write a post for my New England mamas who are bracing for the real deal blizzard, ironically named Grayson.
As you know, I’ve had five kids in the past almost-9 years. Which means I’ve been keeping toddlers and small children entertained for almost as long. I don’t consider myself very crafty, and I have every confidence that I would stink as a daycare/preschool/early elementary school teacher, so I find it funny/ironic that I would be a homeschool mother of 5 children. But I’m so happy to report I’ve found some tricks that have lasted the test of time (time that feels like eons and eons, but I’m sure will too-quickly fade to memory) and I’m even more elated to tell you that none of these tricks involve glitter, big messes, or much of my time.
Before we jump in, here’s my (laughable) list of supplies:
- colored pencils
- paper of all sorts
- scrap fabrics/old clothes
- low-temp glue gun
- insane amount of glue sticks
- plastic silverware
- miles of tape
- spare hardware from who knows what
- basically everything from your recycle bin
- all the blankets
- modeling clay
- kinetic sand
- storage containers
- 1 screen (iPad, laptop, tv)
Ready? Here’s what that looks like round here this morning. And most non-school days, for that matter. Kitchen table serves as the hot glue gun station, where ever amazon prime box every delivered to our door is turned into a plane, train, tank or doll house.
Spare hardware and fabrics, which we store in a kitchen drawer, serve as all the accessories, as do plasticware and anything else they can drum up and convince me of its necessity for their project.
Recycles come into play here, also. Empty egg cartons and cereal boxes from breakfast, toilet paper rolls, seltzer water cans…the sky’s the limit. Next is our all-access art nook, also known as our school corner. Construction paper, white lined paper, scissors, tape and an assortment of writing utensils flow endlessly from this cute Ikea cart. We go through (and recycle) A LOT of these items, and it’s worth every penny in my book. Plus, Nana sends lots of these supplies regularly through Amazon Prime, thus continuing the cycle of boxes and supplies. Like this modeling clay! Caramia has been using the wax from our cheese to sculpt cute little figurines, so Nana sent her modeling clay, which I TOTALLY prefer to play dough because it doesn’t dry out. Again, more Amazon Prime boxes, too. I keep the clay on the kitchen island and she has spent hours upon hours working her magic.
Next up, Benny the Bull and blanket forts. Mimi purchased this bouncy, bright orange bull for the children when we lived in tighter quarters in Philadelphia, and it has continued to serve as a fantastic indoor energy expender. Paired with some blankets, and you’ve got (according to Judah) the perfect lion’s den. Next up is the magical, mesmerizing, mess-free kinetic sand. Agh, I can’t get enough of this stuff. It’s as bit pricy, but I assure you it is well worth the investment. We keep it in plastic storage containers with an assortment of little beach toys, and the kids (and grown ups) have been known to spend hours digging and building.
Lastly, here’s some of my sanity savers when it comes to being stuck inside with small children.
- Mutual Agreement. My kids know that, with mom’s permission, they can create as much as their minds can drum up in a day, with the understanding that it ALL gets cleaned up by bedtime. And by cleaned up I mean, THEY clean it up.
- Rotating Playmates. For whatever magical reason, switching up the gang really helps keep the peace and interest. This is where the iPad and headphones come in to play. Once an hour, one child is allowed to sit in the guest room (where I can see them) and play a game/watch a movie/listen to music with headphones. It gives them a break, gives me a break, and keeps it fresh.
- Grown Up Music. I’m sorry, but kid music drives me absolutely nuts, especially while housebound. So I make it a point to play anything but children’s tunes. Classical. 70’s Classics. Jazz. An occasional 80’s gem. They get it all. And I keep my sanity. My current go-to’s are Vince Geraldi and The Bahamas. And always the White Stripes, but they are pulled out when we need a concentrated dose of ‘go crazy and dance and get your energy out.’
- Amazon Wish List. My mom generously and regularly fulfills my ‘School Supplies’ wish list, which keeps us stocked…and has earned her the title of Homeschool Administrator 🙂
- Auditory Retreat. When I am at my auditory max, I let the kids know, send them to their rooms to play, and strap headphones to MY ears. Sometimes you just need a break from all the kid noise. Honestly, by this point I don’t even want to listen to music, but anything with the words spa, relaxing, ocean waves, or nature listed in the Spotify playlist has my full attention.
- Consider moving. I say this half-jokingly, half-seriously. As you know, I’ve migrated from Boston to Philly to Georgia in part due to the effect winters have on me. It was a big decision to uproot our family and start over, but WOW do I prefer a warmer climate and the option to be outside year round (even if under a ‘chill warning’!)
So there it is. Nothing super fancy, and hopefully very do-able. And if you’re reading this now, you still have time to bring your recycles/treasures inside for the kids before Blizzard Grayson buries you.
If you have other tips on surviving a storm with kids, please share! Cheering all my New England moms on as you brace for Grayson.