Old CD’s, a spin wheel, lots of paper, scissors and markers lead to very engaged kids, a whole hour of reading time for mama at the end of a work day (with lots of interruptions but I will still take it), lovely handmade cards for daddy with heart warming messages, uninterrupted reading and homework time for older sister and creative art pieces (monster trucks with three footed aliens in them, well-engineered monster trucks with air tanks inside the wheels, and a book of their own spin wheel designs for each of the boys). Conflict was at its peak last night between both my boys. Everybody was tired and my patience was running thin. So glad I didn’t turn on the TV for them, although I was tempted to do so, and chose to set out some materials on the table instead. On that note, another simple idea that has opened up lots of possibilities for our family is to cover our dining table with a heavy duty table cloth that can be messed up with paints and markers. .
I have learned that there are ways to engage the little ones on tough days without having to turn on the television. It takes some creativity and some investment of money in stocking up the home with a variety of sensory materials, arts and crafts supplies and open ended toys like legos, manga tiles, etc. Rotating the materials and toys that have been used recently seems to get the kids excited to work with them. If the materials and toys are always in front of them, they don’t seem to care much about them. With that said, there are some of those days when nothing works and a math or word game on the phone or a time boxed television show is required. But most of the time, this has worked for me.