After seven years as a middle school educator, it was time to hang up the hat (for now) and play at home with my kids for a little. This was and wasn’t an easy decision. As an urban school educator, it is really difficult to leave behind your students that you form close bonds with, the parents that join you in building a great school community and the teachers who day in and day out work harder and longer than anyone I know. However, there was a day last year (the first of what ended up being many) when the nanny called out sick. I was home with Flynn, who was around six months old. I had a great morning, walking our neighborhood (God I miss that neighborhood) and playing with Flynn. And I really enjoyed pulling out a boob, instead of a pump. Midway through the day I put in a load of wash and started to put away dishes while Flynn sat on the floor next to me. And then I started to cry…because I wanted this to be my every day. I loved my job (usually) and really loved the people I worked with (still do), but I missed the quiet and not so quiet moments of being at home.
When I found out I was pregnant with #2, I was in the process of creating a part-time schedule at work. We couldn’t quite make it work with me completely stepping out of the workforce, so part time was the best I was going to get. When summer rolled around and work got crazy (summer is busy for school admin), I knew that part-time wasn’t the answer; so we moved to my hometown of Philadelphia, pretty much on a whim. Dominique got a new coaching gig and I stay home, working as an online educational consultant, coaching teachers and principals. So far the gig, is great, but it definitely leads to either some late nights completing projects OR some days where I need some activities to keep Flynn busy while I watch the teacher videos and provide feedback online.
Below are some of our favorite go to ideas that were made up with random items around the house. These may help you while you are coaching teachers online 🙂 or just stuck in the house and need some things to do! (Disclaimer: Many of these items are really not suitable for young kids, particularly ones who eat things they shouldn’t. I am thankful that right now Flynn only likes to eat Puffs, Cheddar Bunnies and anything that is a carb-loaded “Snack” with the word Annie on the front.)
Inside Water Play
Flynn loved his outside water tables (and still does). Since I am not brave enough to bring them in and use in the house, we make do with Tupperware containers in various sizes, squirt bottles, measuring cups, food coloring and things that float/sink (e.g., rocks, ducks, random toys that can get wet).
I put down some towels on the floor, cover his little table (that will one day be painted) and let him go to town transferring water back and forth and squirting different colored water into the containers. Gets me about 30 minutes before things get “hairy” and by hairy I mean water starts being squirted across the table, buckets start being filled to the brim, Nola is invited to join in)
See above. Except Flynn cleans his matchbox cars.
I have no aversion to a mess, and I pull out paint all the time. I usually make his paint out of flour, food coloring and all that jazz, but sometimes I need an activity quickly and so we keep some non-toxic finger paint around as well as a thing of watercolors. I have a huge roll of brown Kraft paper (and usually some already taped to the table), but at times used to use the Flipchart paper that was left over from my teaching days. Flynn will just sit and paint the paper and one day I may get real crafty and put down some tape so he makes an actual piece of art. For now, painting on paper is the best we have.
Rocks, Marbles and the Like
I bought a bunch of rocks and marbles from the Dollar Tree and then saved a couple of containers in various sizes. Flynn will sit and dump the objects out and then put them back in the containers. Some of the containers have smaller lids so it is harder to get the objects in and out, making a challenge for Flynn. Sometimes a challenge for Flynn equals a need for my help, so if you really have to get work done, you may have to not win mom of the year and leave out the harder containers and just apologize to Maria Montessori.