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In our post on achieving balance we briefly discussed having some independent/quiet activities your child(ren) could do by themselves. This is great for reducing screen time, encouraging independence and also allowing families some much needed moments to work/cook/etc!
Here I’m going to show you my own set up in a bit more detail – this is just what works for my family and the resources we have, but I hope it inspires you to create something that works for you and your family!
I began by listing things my son (5) enjoys doing that he could manage by himself, something like this;
Doing this got me started thinking about what would work well (and what wouldn’t! No painting please!). From here I was able to think of a few different things he could do.
I didn’t want to need to buy tonnes of stuff for this – so I began by scouring what we already had, and then added if necessary. Here’s some things I’d recommend;
- Storage: I used ZipLock bags – I’d love something that wasn’t plastic, but it wasn’t available at reasonable cost at the time so we have to make do.
- Reusable stickers: from little ones who just love to stick them again and again to bigger kids who can create scenes and tell stories these are wonderful. I personally love these ones.
- Wipe Clean Books: Great for reusing and practicing fine motor skills these are a little more sustainable for me than printing new ones each time.
- Play Dough: From open ended play to play dough mats to spelling out words – there’s so many ways to use it! You can get some online, or make your own!
- Stackable materials: from plastic cups to Jenga blocks – things you can stack and build with are great for encouraging play.
- Washable markers: if your child is going to working independently (although still close to you) then these give a little peace of mind in case your kids accidentally draw on clothes, etc.
Split them into easy to manage ideas
I wanted to encourage the kids to be able to get started on their own – so I kept each activity simple and short. My 5 year old reads well so I can write short instructions for him, but my 2 year old needs recognisable, easy to follow things to do!
Here’s a sample of the activities I have for my 5 year old:
This is what I have for my 2 year old:
I wanted to make sure my 5 year old had some choice, but without overwhelming him. So I arranged our bags so that he had 2-4 to choose from each day, and split them into boxes. This allows me to rotate the activities to prevent boredom and encourage him to have variety too.
Then its all about finding a time, minimising distractions and letting them try it out!