Today was our first “normal” day of work. My boys went back to school (much to my sadness) and I had both little “R” and little “L” with me for the day.
The girls really do love each other, but before Christmas we had many times where they would scream at each other and both cry as a result, if they got too close to each others toys. Even if a toy had been played with and then discarded, it was not to be touched by any one else….. Reminding me a lot of that poem I read once called “Toddler law”.
I really want to help the girls through this difficult time. They are both now 2 years old and the world has become a frustrating place for them. They able to communicate better with the people around them, but still not well enough to express them selves calmly when under a moment of stress.
The world has revolved around them (as it should) in their early years of babyhood, but now they are venturing out on their own a little more and having to wait occasionally for something they want or need.
It is a hard time and frustrating for them and those around them as they move from one battle to another.
I have tried to guide them and model positive play by sitting with them and sharing the toys between the three of us, but the moment I have to leave their side it all seems to fall apart very quickly.
This year I decided to make our mornings more purposeful. We will still have moments of free play but I feel we need a little more structure mixed in.
I have created a morning rhythm that I hope will do this. Before I take the children to school I mix up a batch of bread dough and leave it to rest for half an hour while we do the school run. Once the girls and I return, we wash our hands and sit at the table with a floured wooden board each. I then dish out a ball of dough each and we work the dough with our fingers while singing songs. This is keeping little fingers busy on purposeful work, building and strengthening their finger muscles which will be used later on for writing and we are all working and playing harmoniously together in the same space.
I am also keen to engage the girls more in preparing a meal for everyone, for later in the day. We have some lovely safety knives which I bought from Pampered Chef. They are not the best things for cutting with and work better on soft foods, but they are safe and give the children a sense of independence and allows them to be part of the food preparation. Today we made Leek and Potato soup. I peeled the potatoes and diced them. I then gave small pieces for the girls to chop. I have to be honest. I still cut 99% of the veg but the girls felt very involved and important to the process. It kept their fingers busy and their minds focused.
While we worked on our chopping, cutting and also the kneading and rolling of the dough, we sang away to ourselves and explored new words. “pinch pinch” on the dough, “push push” in the dough, “chop chop” up the Potatoes.
Before we new it the bread rolls were cooked and we enjoyed them warm from the oven with butter spread over them and a glass of fresh milk.
The next part of our rhythm is to get our outdoor clothes on and pop outside for some fresh air. We played on the scooter, rolled and threw balls, enjoyed the music wall and outdoor kitchen. We took some stale bread out to the chickens and pulled it in to little pieces and threw it in to the run. We watched for birds and listened to a noisy dog barking in one of the neighbours gardens!
We came in for stories once the girls became restless out there. This is a tricky part of the morning as they are starting to get tired and we just need to try and keep going for another 20 minutes before we can have lunch, nappy changes and nap time.
I have to say that today’s test run seemed to work very well. On the whole everyone was much happier and calmer with each other. Frustrations were dealt with quickly and there were less upset.
I would love to hear about your daily rhythms and gentle ways of helping young children play together. Please leave your thoughts in the comment box. I will read them and respond to you all.