Over the past few weeks I have been making small changes around the house, and making little plans in my mind, all geared toward my youngest children and our return to homeschooling soon. It is all too easy to fall into a pattern of shuffling my younger children along on school days, while trying to meet the (educational) needs of my older children. My experience is that this results in my girls being unhappy, fussy, and demanding. Their unhappiness has a trickle down effect that gets me, and then gets the whole family. I do not think that working to meet the needs of my younger children first necessarily translates to my spending more time sitting in the floor playing with them though, but more into preparing a home environment that best meets their needs, and providing a bit more structure and routine. By meeting their needs first I hope to maintain a more peaceful home, and a happier home, as we head into our next school year. Over the next few weeks I hope to share some of my plans, some of the changes I have made, and also, just a little of the way I do things. Today I will share a bit about Beatrix’s world.
In our bedroom, Jonny and I keep a few toys and books, because after all, our bedroom is also Beatrix’s bedroom. This is also where my rocking chair now resides and Beatrix spends time playing while I rock, nurse and care for Silas. She has very few toys, as more than a few is too many for her (and for me.)
The simple wall shelves that Jonny built years ago, are still serving us well. Recently I packed away most of the books. I have been rotating books for years, but realized that I was still packing those shelves too full. Beatrix is very much a lover of routine and repeating the same favorite books over and over again. The fun part of that is we reach a point where she is “reading” aloud with me. We have read The Carrot Seed every night for many weeks and she has it memorized. She isn’t bored with it at all. She loves the simple story, and knowing that we will read it every night.
Often she sits with a book and I hear her repeating phrases from the books aloud while she turns the pages. She always begins with “Once upon a time…” whether the story begins that way or not.
Current favorites on the shelf, that I don’t see leaving anytime soon are:
A Little Old Man (out of print–but still available used. one of my favorite children’s books ever and Beatrix’s definite number one favorite right now. A Sick Day for Amos McGee (this is number two on the favorites list. beautiful illustrations and very lovely simple story. all my children love this one, and Larkspur almost has it memorized,) Over in the Meadow (Picture Books) (we sing this one together, even the big boys love it) and Bread and Jam for Frances.
(looking at A Little Old Man)
While none of these small things are particularly novel, they are important parts of Beatrix’s little world.
For both my big and my little children, I recently asked Jonny to make something to hang a set of enamelware mugs on (updated to add: we have since replaced the enamelware with these stainless steel cups because the enamelware chips so much.) I worry about my children drinking enough water, but I can’t remember to remind them all day long. So I came up with a plan to make water and cups always available and accessible even to my youngest children, and a little bit fun as well. One of the older boys fills the pitchers in the morning. We have two large ones, and a small one for the girls to use. On occasion, I might fill the pitchers with iced herbal tea with honey.
Each mug has a child’s initial on the bottom. Hand washing the mugs in soapy water periodically is a nice job for one of the girls. (There is room for another hook on the bottom right for Silas!)
I see my boys drinking more water already. I still remind them to go drink a cup when they come inside all hot and sweaty, but I don’t feel like I have to remind them as often.
Beatrix enjoys filling her mug (all by herself!) so much that she sometimes ends up with a watery mess (small pitcher purchased here.) I remind her that these pitchers of water are for drinking only. I provide her with other things for water play, and so far I am not having too much trouble with her playing in the drinking water.
It’s really so much fun to come up with ways to make our little home more child friendly.