I have a friend who looks forward to rainy weekends. While other people anticipate Saturdays filled with activities outside their homes, or Sundays reading the newspaper and enjoying a leisurely brunch, she relishes the opportunity to straighten out closets or sort out her wardrobe without feeling guilty about missing a few hours of rest and relaxation.
For her, days like these are the perfect time to make a fresh start. When it comes to your child’s developmental needs, you can use a similar approach to take stock of your child’s world and make changes for the better. Here are several ideas to jump-start the process.
Make a short list of the things that are most important to tackle in order to improve your child’s home environment. It could be as simple as creating a defined play space or as complicated as creating a computer learning center. Then narrow down the list and start working on it. Forget the non-essentials. Parents often feel like failures because they have big lists of “things I haven’t done yet” in their heads.
If you weren’t lucky enough to be born with good organizational skills, try some of these quick fixes. Buy a “Family” organizational wall calendar that has space for work, social and child-related activities on each date. Buy big plastic bins in fun colors. They stack easily and can hide an abundance of stuff— both your junk and your child’s. If your home looks less cluttered, you feel less cluttered on the inside, keeping your spirits high and your stress level in check.
Tackle Your Child’s Room
If you are like most parents, you have allowed an excess toys, stuffed animals and other playthings to accumulate in your child’s room. You could probably get rid of half of the playthings without him missing any of it. Of course, never let him see you do this, because he would suddenly become very attached to anything you want to remove!
Ask for Help
Learn to recognize and accept help where you can find it. If you have family or friends who you can call on occasion to help out with your children— do it. It can be very difficult to make any progress on home projects with a toddler in tow. Getting help makes your job easier, and it may be fun for your children as well as for your friend or family member. You can always reciprocate in the future, creating a cooperative relationship that benefits everyone.
Plan Ahead for Rainy Days
For those occasions when you can’t find someone to watch your child, keep some special things out of sight so that they can become the diversion when you need to tackle the project you’ve chosen. Keep new DVDs, stickers, coloring and puzzle books, or “do-it-themselves” arts & crafts projects readily available to entertain your children. Surprise your child with any of these special treats and watch your productivity rise.
Let Kids Do More
Most parents do not delegate enough tasks to their children. Once they are school age, children are definitely capable of helping out with activities like preparing breakfast, sorting laundry, emptying garbage cans and more. Even toddlers can help by putting away their toys or completing other simple chores. Get them involved. Not only will you appreciate the help, your children will beam with pride when you praise their efforts.
Finding time to make a fresh start will improve your child’s world, while making your life easier as well. A bit of careful planning can help ensure that your child is happy and fulfilled, and you can cross off another project from your “to do” list.