Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Hemingway's Whiskey

Five years ago I attended a baby shower for my good friend K.  I sat down beside a former work colleague of hers who had opted to become a stay at home mom after she had her son three years earlier.  We talked about how grateful she was that she had the luxury of being a stay at home mom, but as someone who wasn't a hobbiest or crafter, there was a lot of time to fill with her little one.  She lamented, "We have story time two or three times a day and I'm reading 15-20 books a day to him. Story time takes about an hour.  A lot of times I don't know what to do to  fill the time if I don't want to rely on TV.  I feel like I have three to four hours of planned outings to the park or the library each day and then I'm out of ideas."

Half a decade later as a working parent I have to admit there are many days when I long for this type of parenting issue.  I am also thankful for the time I have with my kids and for the comprehensive programming (including speech therapy for Jack) that daycare has offered us.

Pop up books, Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland House
A book from my "supervised reading only" reading collection.

For the first few years of parenthood I'd argue that as a mother of multiples I have things harder than the parents of singletons. Today however, many of the parents I know are welcoming their second and third children into their brood and things have shifted.  The minions have always competed for attention with each other, so they don't know any differently.  Suddenly parents I know are facing the demands of an infant alongside terrible twos.

Earlier this week I was talking to another mom about her daughter's love for the one on one attention offered at story time.   The toddler would gladly have mom read to her all day if she could.  I for one love reading to Molly and Jack.  I love the way they both cuddle up beside me or insist that the other move over to make room for both to sit on my lap, but dinner still needs to get made and laundry still has to be done all while balancing with not wanting to park little ones in front of TV for hours.

underwood typewriter, antique typewriter
My antique Underwood which I believe to be catnip to children who are "playing independently"

What solutions are there for when your voice is hoarse, dinner is boiling over and you need to take care of your online banking or enjoy a hot cup of tea (yeah right) but the littles want ANOTHER story?  I'm so glad you asked.

1. Set up story time rituals.  This way story time is a part of their routine.  Whether it's before naps and bed or whatever best suits your own schedule.  This can help you manage story time expectations.

2. Consider recording your own (or another relatives) voice telling a favourite story to fill in as a relief pitcher when you need it.  I think one of our birthday requests from our snowbird family members will be to have them record a story for the minions before they head south this year.

3. There are a lot of good books on CD, pod casts with a decent selection available at the local library if you want to test run before buying a copy.  Although this isn't a substitution for story time it  will stimulate imagination and listening in a way that television doesn't. Consider read along versions of books where your child turns the page when they hear the appropriate cue or chime.

4. Be the example.  Show your kids that quiet time isn't just for kids and make sure they see you reading. Actions really do speak louder than words.

5. Give in to an extra story every now and then....because...the days are long, but the years are short.

Stay tuned for recommendations on recorded stories for children!

For a book review of Stuck click here

For recommendations on books about the underdog click here

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