Today I had the pleasure of hosting a play date with a very good friend of mine and her two boys, 2 and 3 months. L and J are so cute! Punky and Bay have become infatuated with babies so they were happy to have J over to snuggle. And having her friend over was all Punky could talk about all morning – “Are they here yet? When are they going to be here?!” I love that Bay and L are about the same age so they get to grow up together, and he’s a good playmate for Punky too since she’s used to playing with her brother. Of course, squabbles ensue when a guest encroaches on your territory, but playing together this way really is the best way for kids to learn to problem solve and communicate with others. I loved listening to them hash out their problems. There’s something to be learned from the way kids can work through a problem – even if they need a grown-up’s help – and then move on without resentment.
Beyond the kids having a good time playing together, there is nothing more important to a mom, especially a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom, than other moms! As we were chatting this morning, she asked if I was missing work since I quit. We talked about how there are certain parts I miss and anticipate missing even more once the school year starts. One thing she mentioned missing was how good it makes a person feel to be looked up to at work as a leader. Kiddos aren’t exactly known for showing gratitude and respect from how much work goes into being a mom, and husbands don’t always understand or remember how important it is to say it out loud. Having mom-friends gives us someone to share our struggles with. It also helps to hear the struggles she has so we don’t feel so alone. Of course we would never wish tough times on our friends, in fact we should pray for our friends’ success often, but it does help to hear when another mom is still trying to figure out a good sleep schedule for the new baby. Or that her potty trainer pulled off his poopy diaper and handed it to her too! (By the way, this definitely did not happen to me with Bay today…) Spending time with my friend was such a blessing today!
I hope that I was able to provide her with even a bit of the joy her company brings me! I am also hopeful that L had a good time playing with us. I wanted to give the kiddos some things to do they could mostly accomplish on their own so the moms could chat, so I put together some busy bags. If you’ve never heard of busy bags, please make it your goal to search up some more ideas tonight! There are hundreds of ideas on Pinterest and other sites of busy bags for toddlers through upper-elementary aged kids ranging from super simple to kinda complicated. Match your kids’ ages and your level of craftiness to find some that are right for you and your family. I’ve got a few I’ll share along with the posts I got the ideas from to get you started.
- Sticky sticks (Teaching Mama)
These are so easy to put together and store. Just take some of the large craft sticks – I even found colored ones at Wal-Mart for a few bucks – and apply stick-on velcro dots. Put the rough piece on one end and the soft piece on the other end. It’s also good to make a few sticks that have the soft piece on the opposite side and end to give more options for the kinds of shapes kids can build with them. You could add velcro pieces to the middles as well if you wanted. Kids can create shapes, letters, houses, and more. Let their imaginations do the work here.
2. Color Clip Sort (Adapted from an idea at Second Story Window)
Punky is great at her colors already but Bay and L are still working on them. This activity helps with color matching as well as the fine-motor skills they will need when they start writing. I just cut some little squares of construction paper to match the colors of paper clips I had in my mega pack and used a rolled up piece of tape to stick the paper squares to the bottom of the ice tray. Add a couple handfuls of paperclips and it’s done. I threw in a couple of paper clips that didn’t match any of the paper squares to add a little challenge for Punky. You could also increase the physical aspect of this activity by including play tweezers or small tongs for picking up the clips and dropping in the appropriate spot.
3. Pony Bead Pattern Matching (The Chaos and the Clutter)
For this one I cut a few white pipe cleaners in half and put some pony beads on in differing patterns. To keep these from coming apart, I wrapped the end of the pipe cleaner around the end bead and tucked it under the next few. You could also use some hot-glue to hold the end beads in place if that’s easier for you. Then I tossed in some extra beads and some empty pipe cleaners and let the kids get to work matching the patterns.
4. Clothespin Names and Word Recognition (School Time Snippets)
Punky and L have both been working on letter recognition; Bay isn’t quite there yet, but still needs the fine-motor practice and strengthening that this clothespin activity provides. I used some more of the large colored craft sticks and wrote out each child’s name in capital letters. I wrote the same letters on clothespins. I added a couple of new words for Punky since she’s getting pretty good at her name already, and drew a little picture to go with them so she could figure out what word she was spelling. Punky’s struggle here was doing just one word at a time. She tended to pick up a clothespin and try to find a craft stick to clip it to instead of looking for the letters needed for a certain word. L got the letter matching part and was able to pick out the pins he needed, but had trouble clipping on the pins. Bay, of course, missed the whole letter matching idea, but quickly got the hang of the clothes pins and had fun clipping as many as he could to one stick. So each child found a success and a challenge with this simple activity – Mommy win!
5. Kinetic Sand Extension
We didn’t quite make it to this activity before nap time today, but that’s okay. I’ll just save it for another time. This one is just another way to play with the kinetic sand we made a few days back (see that post here). I added some small rocks and little animals and dinosaurs which should be great for some free-play. I can’t wait to see what the kids come up with when we get around to it.
Overall, today was a great day! My friend and I got some good fellowship time in, the kids were able to play and learn together, and *amazingly* there were no tears or boo-boos! And you wouldn’t believe the amazing nap that came afterward – can we say mommy-all-by-herself-time!!
I hope you found some good ideas here and some inspiration to make time for a mom-friend playdate soon! Do you have any other little busy bag ideas? I’d love to hear what you have tried and your kids have enjoyed – leave it in the comments below.