Let the journey be shaped by the curiousity of the child…
As a mom of 2 (soon to be 3!) and an educator, I have to find creative ways to entertain both of my children and especially entertain the baby (who is now a toddler) during my classes with other children.
In these series I will share some ideas and tips with you on how to engage your infant/toddler while you are busy with an older child/older children crafting, reading, cooking etc.
First things first:
Ten Tips To Make Your Crafting Time Fun And Safe For All Children.
I never had to do any special effort to baby-proof the house. But there are few things I do to ensure that the environment for the baby/toddler is safe and hazard-free.
1. You can wear your baby in a sling or a wrap. Even if you aren’t much of a baby-wearer, you can still invest into a good sling/carrier that will ease your life and free your hands when needed. Also, wearing an infant gives him/her the needed feeling of security and comfort.
2. Designate the crafting area. All supervised craft I do with my children at a child-height or even lower table so there is no chair-climbing and the younger child’s curiosity is satisfied. Plus sitting down on the floor or a small chair near the table puts you at almost the child’s height which makes both children feel more open and comfortable.
3. Once you’ve designated the area, ensure the safety: for an infant, put some soft blankets on the floor, prepare a bouncy chair, a number of toys, a baby gym – anything you might think the baby will be interested in. Toys that play soft music are welcome and in fact they work their magic for both/all children. If the table has obvious sharp corners – baby-proof them by using special material or by simply sticking folded thin towels around the sharp edges.
4. For rollers and crawlers, put some pillows around the area which they can’t easily roll over or crawl over – it will ease your supervision and give you more opportunities to concentrate on your older child/children.
5. It helps having your craft supplies organized and kept in 2-3 separate boxes which you can access and keep tightly closed when not used. It ensures that the baby/toddler can’t easily access them when you turn your head away.
6. Set some simple rules for your older child and explain the safety rules (e.g. keep the scissors/glue/small pieces in the middle of the table when not currently used or put them away in a box when done with them; move gently and watch out for your brother/sister who might crawl/walk close and grab things; don’t do sudden moves especially when holding scissors/pencils and other supplies etc)
7. For toddlers: I start introducing coloring as soon as the baby can grab and shows interest in drawing/coloring. I always have a spare piece of paper and large baby-friendly crayons/pencils that can’t be choked on and if a part is ingested – won’t result in poisoning (some companies makes such, for example. Crayola, and I have invested in them several times and they are great for older children as well).
8. There are hundreds of activities that don’t involve small parts or dangerous for younger children materials. It is best to choose those and keep the others for the time when another parent/caretaker can watch your younger child or when the younger child is napping.
9. As said above, there is also a great number of unsupervised activities you can offer an older child to encourage independence and self-discipline. However, you have to carefully choose those and follow your older child’s cues and current skills. And of course, partial supervision is the best as you do want your older child to feel engaged while you are right here playing games with a younger child. Especially if you have several children of different ages, you have to improvise and give them different activities according to their age group. So supervising younger ones and giving unsupervised activity to an older one will ease your crafting/learning time.
10. This one is the most important: ALWAYS supervise your younger child. Even if you have to run to the bathroom – grab your younger child and take with you – as hard as it sounds, it is actually not so hard and will ensure more safety for a young child who can potentially get harmed while you are absent, even if it is for 1-2 minutes.
I hope these simple tips are useful for you and give you more room for ideas on how to make sure your crafting time with an older child/older children is productive and pleasant for all of your children and no one feels deprived of your attention!
Varya blogs at Creative World of Varya (http://creativeworldofvarya.com) about nurturing creativity, multilingualism, multiculturalism, craft, art, cooking, parenting and character education. She is a mom of 2 (soon to be 3!), an early educator, perinatal fitness and baby massage trainer, currently residing in the South of China with her family.