do what you love, at home with kids

by Whitney on October 17, 2010

block towers

What did you do with free time before kids? Curl up with a good book? Tackle a rewarding home improvement project? Or maybe you went out; to a gallery, a ball game, a favorite boutique.

Chances are, the way you fill your days is different now. Chores, errands, even fun-time with the kids can turn into exercises in monotony. You read the same tired books, build still more towers, and rotate outings between the usual haunts, all of them centered around kids.

With young children, truly free time is hard to come by. There’s always something you should be doing–to get ahead, to catch up, to just stay the ever-lovin’ course . . .

You’re busy, but you can still squeeze in a little time with lost loves–just bring the kids along, too. Straying from the routine can be intimidating, but kids tend to rise to the occasion. You can help by setting the scene for success.

Now we’ll talk about more fulfilling days at home, and I’ll continue the do what you love series with later posts covering a.m. and p.m. (date night!) outings.

a 4x4 canvas can be painted in one sitting

At home:

  • Spend the day in the kitchen. Cook like you did before you knew the definition of “witching hour.” Skip the stir-fry and create something slow and decadent. Take off the pressure by starting early, and stay away from dishes where perfect timing is crucial (like souffles, and some baking). Keep little hands occupied with prep work like washing, tearing, and counting. In between real tasks they can mix and measure dry goods and play food.
  • DIY. Paint something small, like a feature wall or yard-sale chair. Non-toxic paint allows you to work in good confidence while the kids are present. Give them their own paint to rehab doll furniture or that salvaged play kitchen.
  • Play some music that makes you move and get your kids on the action. It doesn’t have to be all Raffi, all the time. Rock your favorite tunes and dance along–for real, not in the half-hearted sidestep most parents fall into when dancing with kids.
  • Get crafty. There are two ways to go about this so that it’s enjoyable, not stressful, to meaningfully create alongside kids. either way, work on a small scale so that you can realistically finish before the kids are ready to move on.
  1. Break out the good stuff- Get media you’re excited to try so that it’s new and fun for you, too. Impart the special nature of the materials to your kids, and limit the number of things on the table.
  2. Break out the cheap stuff- While in general I advocate supplying even young kids with quality materials, a day of cut-and-paste doll clothes calls for scraps, and few children under five can resist the urge to empty a tube of paint in one squeeze, so I save the high-dollar pigments for another time.
  • Watch the game. YouTube has videos of everything from water polo to fencing, and you can search for particular examples of the rules in play. Get in the spirit with tailgating snacks and spirited attire–it will emphasize the celebratory nature of spectating.

How do you spend your time with the kids? Have you been able to continue to foster long-held passions, hobbies, and skills?

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