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3 Super Easy Strategies to Get Kids to Play Independently (Hint: It's not using a device)!

This was my son, not even three yet, and could occupy himself looking at
books we'd get from the library. My two older children were the same way.
He is the same  to this day and he is 16.

Are your kids on your back all day? Are they constantly at your feet begging for attention? If you are at home learning, it's possible this is happening. And if so, chances are you're finding it pretty impossible to get anything done in life. I mean it is pretty difficult washing dishes, reading the mail or taking a phone call when you have an extra 30-100 lbs on your (or however much your kids weigh all together).

I raised three kids and these are 3 proven (and constructive) strategies that will work to help you not only get something done around the house but might also offer you some peace! The BEST part? It's a way to help your kids feel the bonding they need with you (hence cutting down that clingy feeling).

1. Sit down with your kids and play. I know, this sounds impossible. But, you can do it. Put your mind in kid mode (not their brain, your previous childhood brain). PLAY. Don't think you have the time? I understand. Just do 15 minutes. I mean most of us by this day and age are on our phones for at least 10 times that before noon right? So heck, why not give the kids 15 minutes of dragons, Red Light Green Light, a board game, or some singing and dancing. 

What does this do? 

Offering your children 15-30 minutes of pretend play or another form of one on one play not only gives them your time but it also helps offer them the tools and skills it requires to use those new toys they got at Christmas. If we model play, they will copy us even when we aren't with them. This is like a magical tool so use this one really works!

2. Read to your children for 30+ minutes a day. Okay, I'm asking for more time here, but this one is definitely a biggy when it comes to benefits.

What does this do?

Reading to kids from a very young age does four main things; 1) teaches them lots of language skills even if you don't think they can understand you, 2) gives them that bonding they desire by sitting near you still, or in your lap close to you, this is essential for emotional wellbeing from a young age, 3) teaches them about the world (in a positive way) if you choose the right books (there are a lot of crap books out there for kids that I would never suggest reading to them, so ask a librarian for assistance or better yet your child's teacher, 4) they will learn the love of reading (and the words to the book) so they will want to read and we all know that reading is the gateway for education and understanding so why not start when they're small? OH! I almost forgot! There is a sixth thing! They will someday magically walk away from you to read...and voila! You have about 15 mins. to load or unload the dishwasher!

3. Feed your children often (but make it healthy food). What do I mean by this? Kids are growing constantly. Their dietary needs and the amount of food doesn't usually stay the same. It changes with their own metabolism and growth spurts, and they can have a jump in those areas before you even know what's happening. So, my other magic trick is to get them a nutritious and fulfilling meal or snack before they act like they need it (and while you are at it, make it a consistent routine). This is how I did it and do it with other people's children also: Breakfast by about an hour after waking, Snack by 10 am, Lunch by noon, Snack after nap and healthier vegie/fruit type of snack in the interim of dinner. This is just a time outline based on what can work for some families, you might need to alter this. For more on this click here for some food ideas and here for scheduling. (I am not a doctor or dietician. These links are just base ideas I think parallel what I've done in the past. Please refer to your child's pediatrician or your primary healthcare giver.)

What does this do?

Feeding your kids a healthy snack or meal before they feel like they need it promotes some clear brain activity and mood (you know how you feel when you're hangry? Yes, don't wait for that). This also keeps them from following you around the kitchen. 

So I'm sure you noticed from my hint, and after reading through this whole post, I never mentioned a device to occupy your kids. That's because that should only be used sparingly, the back pocket trick, the clutch. It's THE one that used correctly will work every time and you will appreciate it (and so will they) but when you are in a doctor's office or on the phone sitting in the car and they're screaming. It's the one that will work every time, in dyer need and works only if used sparingly (kind of like TV back in the day lol). Using screens too much will do what any TV program will do, eventually, it loses it's cool. It's no longer exciting. Either that, or the child is just mindlessly scrolling or watching. That dazed look? Yeah, their brain probably isn't engaged. Why is this a bad thing? Because growing brains need stimulation (the right kind of stimulation) and that should be active, not passive so they can grow at the different cognitive and emotional levels they need to. Click here for more on this.

In Growing Up Social (a book I can appreciate and you should read which doesn't get nearly enough attention) there is a lot about the changes in society, parenting, and child's play (need some more back up or how and why to pull the kids away from the phone or tablet...I'd check it out). You might also read and understand why I regret allowing my adult daughter to gift my 13 y/o son with an X-Box (and why I'm annoyed all school connections are almost all online).

The moral of this story is if you want better kids, it's going to take a little of our time and less screen time.

Have questions, want to hear more about certain parenting topics? Just comment in the post. I'd be happy to talk about it.

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