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I am probably way behind on finally getting my kids to leave me alone, after almost 5 years of being a mother, but for some reason, I am just now figuring out some tricks to get my kids to leave me alone. Keeping up on cleaning, blogging, organizing, grocery shopping, paying bills…just life in general is IMPOSSIBLE when your kids won’t leave you alone to think.
I still am struggling to get enough time alone, but I’ve now figured out a way to get them to give me some space for a decent enough time to clean the kitchen, check some emails or brush my teeth and put some makeup on. Nap time is a great time of course but as kids get older nap times shift and/or go away and you can’t always wait for nap time to take care of something.
Just 30 Minutes
In reality, it’s not much time. Maybe 30 minutes on a good day, so I don’t want you to think this will have your kids busy all day. Some days they are in a bad mood and misbehaving, but in general, this method has seemed to work pretty well for me.
A half hour is a ton of time if you can actually focus on a task you need to do relatively uninterrupted. It can be helpful if you plan for the same schedule time so that they know what or when to expect this station time.
What I do is I start in the morning, when they have a lot of energy, yet we aren’t even close to going anywhere fun. As the winter weather approaches, we venture out to libraries and indoor play places a lot. Before we go anywhere, I set up what I call play stations.
Before we headed back to the PNW to spend some holiday months with family, I had my oldest boy in Pre-K. I learned the idea of “stations,” from the teacher. Every day the class had station time. Small groups of kids would rotate time in each station. The school had the car station, science station, kitchen station and toy station.
I thought this was a great idea, and something I wanted to implement at home.
Setting Up Stations
What I do now, is I keep some toys only for station time. I set up a corner in the room called, Car Corner, another corner of the room called Superhero Station, their room is the Book Nook, and I also have a color/craft station at their kids table with washable markers, stickers, washable water colors or a similar simple art projects to that. I also alternate the Megaformers into a corner or space. These are seriously the best toys for any child. Mine will play and build with them over and over again!
If you have 3-4 stations and give them 10 minutes at each one and rotate then you might be able to get 30-40 minutes to handle the things you need to without little ones climbing all over you! The time will all depend on if you have younger children and your child’s maturity level. If you need to shorten the station time, go for it.
You might set some basic rules such as they can’t go to another station until the timer dings, each station only once, and don’t leave it a mess for the next child. Give it a trial period and adjust as needed.
The concept is super simple, and its a breeze to set up. We are staying with family for a couple weeks, and I am even able to set up the stations in their living room. I will get pictures up to add to this post when we get back to our home, and I can set the stations up how I normally do, so you can all see how totally simple and easy it is.
I start each child with just 10 minutes at each station.
The great part is that they have to play by themselves. Independent play is so important for their development and problem-solving skills. A lot of the reason my kids don’t leave me alone is because they are fighting. They can’t fight if they can’t play with each other.
It is also fun to see their sense of accomplishment when they prove to themselves they can do something on their own for the very first time. Whether it is putting the cap back on the marker by themselves for younger children or reading their first book on their own for older siblings. The independence will give their maturity levels and confidence a boost!
Books and Crafts
A tip for the book nook is to sneak books at your library when your kids aren’t looking, so you have a stack of new books to rotate through. This keeps them from getting bored fast. I’m also teaching my toddlers to read, so I give them books to practice in there too. The Bob books ares some of my favorite for this!
The coloring or craft station is mostly just coloring with markers because that’s the simplest to set up. I just google search images to print for them to color. Anything they are loving at the moment like, “batman coloring page” or “race car coloring page” and there are a lot of free pages you can print out and save for different days.
The dollar store and Target dollar spot is a great place to stock up on some surprise things for stations. You don’t have to buy a lot of new activities if you keep the toys only available during station time. Then, use a big bin to pick them up after station time, so they are hidden until the next day or next time you do stations.
I’m sure a lot of moms have already set up their play rooms or toy rooms with stations, but the trick for me is to take the toys away after station time. That way the toys don’t lose their appeal, and I don’t have to buy new ones as often.
I’ve talked about how I hide toys before, and its a similar concept. My house has a lack luster bunch of toys for kids. I just can’t stand the clutter and picking up the same toys over and over again, even though they only got played with for five minutes. I believe in imagination, boredom and minimalism just because it helps keep me sane and keep up with cleaning up.
Educational Screen Time
Even-though screen time can be a topic of contention, it has it’s place. I try to avoid it mostly, but there are times when an age appropriate educational app for a very limited amount of time can be a life saver. Even if just a few minutes of alone time, just make sure you set expectations regarding time.
Apps or even the occasional show that read books to kids or teaches them math or science concepts can be very helpful. I am shocked sometimes when I realize how much my kids learned about sea creatures or science from watching one episode of Octonauts or The Magic School Bus once in a while!
Do you have some great ideas that help get your kids to leave you alone? Please share! I’m always interested in more!