Summer days have a whole different dynamic around here. It took exactly less than a day for my kids to be out of school before I was getting a little irritated with them. Well, maybe a lot irritated. Not that I don’t love them to pieces, but you other Moms know just what I’m talking about. That’s why when I read this post from Beneath my Heart, I knew it could be helpful for these days where there’s lots of togetherness. The basic premise is that you set up stations around your house where each child spends half an hour. After the time is up, they switch to a different station and do the activity designated for that area. This allows some separation between kids and also is conducive to more educational pursuits as well as some just fun stuff. I decided to implement this idea right away as I had 2 additional children to watch. With 7 kids underfoot, I knew I had to have a good plan in place so I didn’t go crazy by lunchtime. Here’s some pictures that I took from that day…
First I made up a chart and hung it on our bulletin board for the day. I made up 4 stations (or centers) consisting of: Basement (free play), Living Room (reading), Kitchen Table (writing, coloring, or puzzles), and the Upstairs Bedrooms (computer games or free play). We did these for 30 minutes each, making a total of 2 hours where everyone was occupied in some way. Obviously I couldn’t assign one child to each station on that day, so I paired them up according to age and who they got along with best. I put the 3 littlest ones together, so that actually made one station free at each time frame. Each group rotated to each station throughout the morning.
I didn’t get a picture from our basement that day, but that was the other station. It’s pretty much an unfinished playroom with toys, play kitchen, and such.
So, are you wondering how this actually worked out?
Honestly, it went beautifully and I did it again the very next day with just my kids. Granted, I wouldn’t do it every single free day, but it did buy me some sanity for that particular day.
I didn’t mention this yet, but there were a few other rules I had in place. For one, they had to stay at their assigned station until the time was up. No roaming the house. Another rule was that they could not come to me with issues unless it was urgent. I liked that rule a lot! During this time I actually got lots done and had sort of a free time for myself.
I plan on doing this idea of stations a good bit this summer. So everyone doesn’t get bored with the same old things, I plan on doing it at different times and offering some variety as well. Some ideas I had for other possible stations/centers are: playdoh, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, outdoor scavenger hunt, legos, instrument practice, make a book, etc.
Stay sane this summer!