We all feel the pressures of raising our children to societal standards. We shuttle from school to activities, trying to fit in nutritious lunches, naps, house cleaning, plus all the other things people without kids do minus one child on their hip and another using their arm as a jungle gym.
(Ah, running errands alone… A girl can dream, right?)
It seems like, daily, there are new suggestions for activities we should be doing with our children to foster their development in one way or another. We pin these on our Pinterest boards and vow to make our very own weather center for the playroom wall, so that our toddlers can prepare for a potential career in meteorology.
The reality is that the weather center never gets made. The ‘marshmallow-toothpick-STEM-engineering’ post and the ‘egg carton model of the skeletal system’ instructions don’t do anything except look cool on Pinterest.
Why don’t we follow through with our well-intended posts? BECAUSE WE’RE FREAKING TIRED. We run from sunrise to sunset to raise those little people in the best way we know how. And frankly, when the heads of those bundles of joy hit their pillows, guess who’s not constructing vertebrae out of cardboard.
This lady right here.
(Confession: Those are all things that I really pinned. Talk about overshooting.)
In all seriousness, it can be difficult to find the time to really hone in on important skills and developmental stepping stones with our kids. Raising a family stresses you for time, for money, for energy, for strength, for mental persistence. It’s a wonder we’ve all made it to adulthood.
No matter how tired we are, though, it’s critically important to ensure our children are hitting key milestones in their development. And it doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming!
With my girls I’ve tried to incorporate learning or skill-development into our daily routines. Instead of buying a bunch of craft supplies, spending hours working on nifty projects that our mongrels will destroy within 24 hours, we choose to make simple learning activities into a game.
For instance, each day I empty the change I’ve accumulated and put it into a bowl so we can play ‘Pennies In’. I bring down our large ceramic vase, the opening of which is just large enough to squeeze a quarter. Then I hand the bowl of pocket change to the kids and they...well, they put the pennies in. It’s as simple as that. Clever, I know.
For our youngest, just picking up the different sized coins, maneuvering them between her fingers, and orienting them appropriately to fit in the jar helps her build fine motor functions. Getting the ‘pennies in’ helps her develop a sense of spatial reasoning.
For our oldest, what began with fine motor skills has turned into sorting the coins into piles of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. She also counts the coins as she puts them in the jar and teaches her sister about patience by taking turns.
What seems like a boring and insignificant game – which is not really a game at all – teaches an abundance of toddler-aged lessons. The best part is they don’t know it’s a lesson!
Parent bonus: it’s easier than easy and requires little to no effort or planning. I see you, moms!
Momming (a.k.a. #mom-ing) doesn’t have to be elaborate. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to develop our tots into functional people. Let’s take some pressure off and incorporate simple learning into our day-to-day routines.
We don’t need moving parts and miniature museum models to teach our children. We just need to make sure we’re teaching them. It may not be flashy or pin-worthy, but it works.
Have some of your own ways of including learning into your daily routine? Share them below!