Category: Parenting Encouragement

Keeping Kids Busy at Home

Keeping Kids Busy at Home

For the past six years, I have been a work-at-home mom with my kids home full-times. I won’t lie and say it’s easy balancing a business and family time (while keeping up with housework). I can say it’s gotten easier as my kids have gotten older.

When it comes to keeping kids busy at home, it’s best to start as young as possible. Teaching kids to play independently for small chunks of time during the toddler years will make life easier once the napping years are gone forever.

My older daughter inherited my Type A tendencies. From a young age, she would ask me what our schedule looked like for the day. I ended up re-using one on of my pocket charts from my classroom years. I made cards listing the major components of our day: meals, rest time, playdates, errands, read-aloud time, etc.

Each morning, I would arrange our daily calendar for her, leaving room for independent play. She had “choice time” in the morning and in the afternoon. I would choose three free time activities for her (for example, puzzles, blocks, and dress-up), and she would pick from the choices. Before long, Addie was quite good at keeping busy during my working hours, no screen time required!

By the time our younger daughter entered the toddler years, I was not only working at home, I was now homeschooling her older sister for Kindergarten. Suddenly, I needed to fill twice as much time for her!

Thankfully, Katie is a tactile learner. Sensory bins have always kept her busy for hours at a time–and pairing sensory play with our educational playlists meant she was listening and learning through play.

Keeping Kids Busy at Home | Fun ideas for your little ones to keep busy during summer or rainy days! Simple play ideas using pom poms, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks.

Keeping Kids Busy: Simple Play Ideas

I also discovered the idea of “invitations to play” when Katie was nearing the end of the napping years. {You can download all of our seasonal invitations to play FREE here.} She had this little table in her room, and each afternoon, I would set a tray with a new activity on it for her to see when she first woke up.

Her activities ranged from adding pony beads to playdough (and then pulling them all back out again) to building structures for her Little People animals with popsicle sticks. She loved sorting pom poms by color and making bracelets out of pipe cleaners.  

Now that my girls are 6 and 9, they love their free time. They work hard to finish their school work so they can get back to their projects!

Just this week, they put together a play for their stuffed animals! My youngest dictated the entire scrispt for her older sister to write down. They rehearsed, made out invitations, and put on the entire show without any interference from me.

My oldest loves to write books, while my youngest still prefers sensory play. When they start to bicker, it’s time to spread out to different spaces for an hour of quiet time.

Keeping Kids Busy: Screen Time

A lot of moms I know struggle with guilt when it comes to screen time. In my opinion, it’s all about balance. If our kids are getting plenty of time outside, what’s the harm? The trick is finding shows and apps that YOU feel good about!

In our house, we’re big fans of Signing Time (sign language + music), PBS Kids (especially Peg + Cat), and School House Rock. My girls also love to listen to books on Audible, play Stack the States, and practice their math facts on the iPad.

They also love riding their bikes, going to the library, and fishing with their Daddy. Everything in moderation!

When it comes to keeping kids busy at home, during summer or on rainy days, the key is being flexible.

I love helping busy parents connect with their kids through play. Come join our FREE Facebook group for lots of activity ideas and encouragement from other moms!


Download our FREE Flexible Family Schedule Guide!

You can also download our FREE Flexible Family Schedule Guide, which includes our printable calendar template and activity menu with 20 ideas for when your kids are feeling bored.

Distraction-Free Parenting {FREE Challenge}

Distraction-Free Parenting {FREE Challenge}

Just last week in our Facebook group, I took a poll about parenting goals for 2018. Which of these mean the most to you?

  • Additional family time
  • Extra adventures (travel & day trips)
  • Fewer distractions during family time
  • Greater understanding of child development
  • More emphasis on learning at home

The number one response was “fewer distractions during family time,” which got me thinking…

What does distraction-free parenting look like?


 

istraction-Free Parenting | family communication, positive parenting, fun family activities, parenting tips, family relationships


(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

If you’re anything like me, you might struggle with the temptation to reach for your phone during family time. It’s so common, in fact, that a whole book has been written about it!  

One of our regular family activities is going to our indoor community pool. We try to go one or two evenings a week, after my husband gets out of work. At first, I had a hard time relaxing in the water; my mind kept racing with a multitude of things to add to my to-do list.

Over the last few months, swimming has become one of my favorite ways to unwind because it’s a distraction-free zone. From the moment we arrive at the aquatic center, my phone goes into my bag and I am 100% focused on my family.

Throughout 2018 I am going to take the parenting lessons I have learned at the pool and spend time cultivating our family relationships phone-free. 


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Inspiring and empowering our kids starts with building authentic relationships with our kids. Trust me when I say, I’m not writing this as a perfect parent who has it all figured out. Distraction-free parenting is one of my very real struggles as a mom, and I would guess it resonates with some of you as well.

Being a work-at-home, homeschooling mama of two means that some multitasking is necessary. Sometimes, I’ll read a chapter of a book on my Kindle app while my girls play outside or pin images to Pinterest while we’re watching football on Sunday afternoons. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks while driving, and I brainstorm blog post ideas while I’m in the shower.

One of my friends recently told me that her parenting goal is to let go of the things that won’t matter in a year. So, for 2018, I am going to focus on living a less distracted life! That means:

  • no Facebook when I should be writing
  • less Instagram during homeschool lessons
  • turning my phone off during family time

Distraction-Free Parenting | family communication, positive parenting, fun family activities, parenting tips, family relationships

In 2018, I’m inviting each of you to join me in being less distracted while we are with our families. This is a yearlong parenting challenge built on baby steps, with one small activity or idea coming your way on the first of each month. If you would like to be part of our distraction-free parenting series, just fill out this quick form.

 Your first Distraction-Free Parenting challenge email will arrive in your inbox on Monday, January 1st.


30 Winter Activities | Free School Holiday Survival Guide

While your kids are home from school this winter, try out this list of 30 “boredom-busting” activities for the whole family!

Here’s what’s included:

  • a weekly calendar template with tips for creating a flexible family schedule
  • a “menu” of more than 20 low-prep activities to keep your children happily engaged
  • lists of recommended seasonal books to grab at the library
  • a family reading log
  • our favorite resources for learning at home
  • AND 30 winter boredom busters!

Click here for more details!

3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier {FREE Download}

3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier {FREE Download}

Hooray, the holidays are here! Having our children home from school (whether it’s fall break, winter break, spring break, or summer break) is a wonderful gift of time and family togetherness. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to go on fun adventures and learn through play. However, school holidays often fall during the time of year when we are inundated with extra activities and a longer-than-usual to-do list.

How do we enjoy the break while still getting things done and keeping our kids learning and happy?

3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier | activities for kids, family activities, holidays, raising children, fall, winter, design your day, free printables

Take a Break

It’s important that we build in time for kids (and ourselves!) to relax during school holidays. Getting up early, following a schedule, and doing things we don’t really enjoy can take its toll. Before your kids get out of school, block off a day or a few hours to do absolutely nothing. (YOU TOO!) Snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie, do a puzzle, or take a nap. If you know you’ll have a busy afternoon, take a slow morning. If you have a busy travel schedule, build in a “recovery day” for the entire family.

Offer Choices

Being a student is hard work. Children are told where and how to sit, when to go to the bathroom, when to eat lunch, and more. There are a lot of benefits that come from being part of a larger learning community, but our children also need to learn to self-regulate. Offering our children choices during school holidays can lead to more confidence and cooperation.

When your children are younger, offer them two choices that you like. (Would you like apple slices or applesauce with your lunch?) As they mature, you can give them a more open-ended opportunity to plan their entire lunch–or outfit or schedule, etc.

Designate a Line Leader

Several years ago, I grew tired of listening to my two children bicker constantly. I decided to use one of my tools from the classroom to make things easier on all of us: the line leader. On odd days of the month, my older daughter gets to go first in the shower, up and down the stairs, getting in and of the car, you name it. Our younger daughter gets to be line leader on even days of the month.

It sounds silly, but it can negate one hundred arguments each day. The line leader chooses the vegetable for dinner, who gets to push the cart at the grocery store, who gets dropped off first at AWANA, you name it! And of course, Mom and Dad always get a veto.

30 Winter Activity Ideas for Families | FREE School Holiday Survival Guide at flourishwithyourfamily.com

Summer or Winter?

You can click here for our summer schedule guide or scroll down below for our winter guide!


FREE School Holiday Survival Guide from Rolling Prairie Readers! Get yours at FlourishWithYourFamily.com

School Holidays Survival Guide

Over the years, I have created a handful of printables that make our home life a bit easier. I have bundled them up into a FREE downloadable guide to help your family flourish during the school holidays.

Here’s what’s included:

  • a weekly calendar template with tips for creating a flexible family schedule
  • a “menu” of more than 20 low-prep activities to keep your children happily engaged
  • lists of recommended seasonal books to grab at the library
  • a family reading log
  • our favorite resources for learning at home
  • AND 30 winter boredom busters!
FREE School Holiday Survival Guide | activities for kids, family activities, holidays, raising children, fall, winter, design your day, free printables