I invited MC Miker and her son over to [tag]play[/tag] and they accepted. It’s always exciting to have a [tag]play date[/tag]. MC Milker is The Not Quite Crunchy Parent [tag]https://notquitecrunchyparent
How does she do it? Let’s find out how she balances both jobs.
1.What’s your favourite activity?
Wow, there are so many and it changes as he gets older. I still like to read to himâ€¦but, the sessions can get long. When hw was younger I loved to “play cars” on his car mat. Now, less so since he directs all of the play. It’s interesting that it seems to be that I introduce an activity and direct the play for a while and enjoy it immensely. Then as he ages and takes overâ€¦he probably enjoys it more and I enjoy it lessâ€¦LOL, does that say something about me? Maybe it’s supposed to be that way. So, I guess I like to introduce him to new things.
2. What’s his favourite book?
The Richard Scary, Busy Town books are favorites at our house. Appropriate for toddlers through kindergarten, these books capture the imagination while teaching how things work in delightful stories featuring animals living in, well a busy town.
3. What does your son like to do?
Since he was small, I’ve been telling him stories based on The Waldorf method of using tiny play figures, scraps of materials and found objects to create a little scene on which the story is “acted out”. As he got older, he began to do the same and we’ve encouraged that by buying him a wide variety of playsets from which he mixes and matches pieces to tell his own stories.
4. What was the last project you worked on together?
Since we’ve been afterschooling, we recently made a diorama of a cretaceous period scene, complete with plastic stegosaurus. Molding clay in a shoe box and pouring plaster of paris over it, then painting met his need for messy play while creating a dinosaur playground of sorts.
5. What were your favourite [tag]play-activities[/tag] when you were your son’s age?
LOL- Though I’m not sure I would buy Barbies if I had a daughterâ€¦I loved playing with them as a child! In those days Barbies wore much longer skirts and had minimal accessories.
6. Where do you go locally for walks?
We are big explorers! We walk on the beach, particularly in the winter, go to nature centers and public parks. I’ve been taking him on these types of expeditions since he was quite small and have found timing and expectations are everything. My goal is to do just as much as is appropriate for his age level. Beach walks STILL cover about 20 feet as there is so much dig, run and wiggle through. Nature walks may last one hour and cover 100 yards. Stopping to explore every two feet. I think, “walk” is a misnomer with a small childâ€¦wander is perhaps better.
7. What everyday play-activities did your parent do with you?
My dad was the one who played with us as children. He always had great projects for us to do together or put together imaginary games. He was one who really enjoyed playing with children and had no problem acting like a child. I think that has been key to my parenting styleâ€¦I try to play with my child, like him whether in public or privateâ€¦who cares what other people think?
8. What’s a typical day in the Notquitecrunchy parent household?
Over the years I’ve found scheduling to be my best parenting tool. When my child is home all day with meâ€¦whether that was at 2 or now at 5, I schedule the day in advance. It’s not a real rigid scheduleâ€¦but follows the Waldorf Inhale/exhale ideaâ€¦which means follow quiet indoor, sitting down play with running around outdoor( or indoor) play. Usually that means I plan in 1-2 hour increments. It’s a bit like planning a birthday party with activities scheduled for different times. Usually that means planning 1-2 indoor and 1-2 outdoor activities as kids will tend to have their own ideas to contribute. I almost never try to get anything done when he is awake and wanting to play. When he was younger and nappedâ€¦that was my work time. Now, if he seems engaged or I can get him to listen to one of his “story CDs” â€“ books on tape for awhile I will do my workâ€¦that too, however has to be scheduled tightly.
I’m not typically a rigidly scheduled person so this initially was hard for me but, has cut down amazingly on the stress on both of us! The trick for me seems to be just planning and blocking out the timeâ€¦not necessarily following the schedule rigidly.
9. What [tag]childhood games[/tag] do you remember fondly?
I remember lots of games involving balls â€“ football (soccer , kickball, dodgeballâ€¦ all things my son is just now starting to play.
10. Do you have play dates?
LOL â€“ I have an only child so, we have playdates 2-3 times per week. On playdates, particularly those that will last several hours, I usually also have a plan of activities. I usually let them start with free play then watch the mood and if it starts to get tense, I introduce a new activity or often situation ( if they are in we go out, if they are out we go in). Sometimes we use all of the activities and I’m groping for moreâ€¦sometimes the kids direct the play the whole time. One benefit of having play dates with good friends is you get to know the children and can gauge a change in mood. I always watch for that and so usually can avoid too many fights.
Did you know that 2- 5 fights per hour is absolutely normal for preschoolers? Knowing that and the skills for avoiding or at least minimizing the escalation helps keeps my nerves from fraying during long play dates.
11. What open ended play ideas do you have in your home that your son can start and stop by himself?
Wow, we have ONLY open ended toys! ( OK almost exclusively)That’s one of my big toy selection criteria. We have home made play dough I keep in the refrigerator. We have paper and markers, paints, beads, blocksâ€¦lots of blocks of different kinds, pipe cleaners, lots of plastic cups, bowls, etc.. baskets of toy cars, silks and fabric swatches for dress up and ribbons. I have found, with boys at least, sitting at a chair and coloring is not a real possibility for any great length of time until they reach 4, or 5 or 6. They need physical activity or to be entertained. Since we don’t do TV or videos except maybe once every week or so for “family video time”, we have lots of open ended toys. My personal choice for electronic baby sitter is, story CDs – Jim Weiss and Barefoot Book CDs and classic stories on tape. While many find these as harmful as TV I believe that since he must use his imagination to visualize the story, this is a great alternative. We started with ten minutes listening together and went from there. He is now content to listen to his CDs for an hour or so by himselfâ€¦which is great since he no longer naps!
It can be a hard transition being at home with a little one or two, juggling everything. Being a parent is just so different to everything that came before.
12. What 3 things would you recommend to the parent at home and having a hard time?
- The first thing I would recommend is educate yourself. Read, read read. The Gessel Institute books â€“ Your One Year Old, Your Two Year old, and Becoming The Parent You Want to be were total eye openers for me. Just knowing what a child is capable of accomplishing at each age and what behavior is typical has made a world of difference in my parenting. I’m much calmer when I can sayâ€¦oh, that’s just age appropriate behavior.
- Take a parenting class or join a parenting group, focus on those that are more than just Mommy coffee klatches. Seek out ones that are filled with thoughtful, involved parents who can teach you something and provide support. â€“ La Leche League, multiples groups.
- Form a community. Take baby music classes and Mommy and me classes,