Several people have asked me how I do some of my Home Made Modern-ish activities with two kids in tow. It’s really all about time management, just like any “job.” It’s true that most of my day is spent doing not-so-glamorous tasks like laundry, emptying the Diaper Genie, and changing my 11-week old’s outfit for the umpteenth time because she spit up. Again. But I do manage to carve out time to blog, or craft, or just bake a batch of cookies each week. This is mostly because I don’t choose activities or crafts that take a long time, as evidenced by my nap rating scale. But I also choose to engage my daughters as much as possible in the process, or at least occupy them with something stimulating while I accomplish something more creative for my OWN sanity and well-being. Here are some of my “sanity savers.”
- Equipment–When your baby is small, invest in a sling, bouncy seat, swing…whatever you think he or she would like. When Olivia was little, I carried her in our Baby Bjorn a lot, especially when shopping. While at home, I’d move her from the exer-saucer, to the jumper, to the pack & play…and I sang songs incessantly to her while I accomplished tasks. This kept her from being bored. I’d narrate what I was doing, even if she couldn’t understand a word of it. Babies love to be talked to. They don’t want to be ignored, just like you wouldn’t.
- Simple toys–I think the general consensus among parents is that babies would prefer to play with a shoebox over that expensive doo-dad you ordered online. Some things Olivia liked to play with were: fabric (like several scarves or unfolded, clean laundry); cardboard paper towel tubes; plastic measuring spoons or cups; plastic cookie cutters; emptied and cleaned yogurt containers used as stacking cups; and homemade “shakers.” To make one of these shakers, put some unpopped popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag along with some balled up newspaper and tie with string. Or, put some pennies in a plastic container with a tightly fitting lid. But don’t ever leave your baby unattended! She could always surprise you and figure out a way to get a lid off.
- Involvement–When your baby gets a little older, try to involve him as much as possible. The idea is to choose activities that allow BOTH of you to express your creativity. Plant some flower seeds, make homemade cards or wrapping paper, or roll and cut out some sugar cookies. But when the project you have in mind is a little too sophisticated for your little one, at least try to engage her in the process. Think of it as awakening her senses. Show her the colors in the material you’re working with; let her smell the spices you’re using; or allow her to experience textures by playing with a ball of pizza dough or feeling some cotton batting. If she’s old enough, let her dump ingredients in a bowl or help you water plants outside.
- Other activities–When it’s just not possible to let your baby “help,” try one of these activities: give him a small paintbrush, some paper, and a bowl of water and let him “paint”; invest in some Baby Einstein DVDs (check them out from the library first to see if your baby likes them…I allow my baby to watch one per day, which gives me 25 minutes to get something done); fill a box with crinkled up paper and marvel at how your baby is entertained by taking it out and putting it back in again; and finally, give your baby books, books, and more books. The ones that got Olivia hooked on reading were those that had photographs of babies, such as the Look Baby! series by Margaret Miller and the Baby Faces series by Roberta Grobel Intrater.
Don’t let having a baby stop you from living a creative life! You can still lead that life while creating an enriched world for your baby.