Creating Calm with Kids

Today I needed a calm day. I realise that the idea of calm is incongruous with having kids, but I decided that I would try to balance the day out with activities for my kids and activities for me, to get the closest feeling to calm that I could. The last few days have been exhausting. My daughter had to get her bandage changed on her broken finger in hospital and the next morning, it fell off and the doctor refused to see her, so we had to go back to the hospital. On top of that, my other daughter came down with a vomiting bug the night before, and none of us had had any sleep. After days like that, I need to retreat and go into hibernation mode when they are over. I knew my daughter would be off school today – she’s at the stage where she is back to her normal self, but too contagious to be allowed to go in. So, we did some simple art projects and baked.

First, the girls painted pasta tubes. We left them to dry so they can thread them onto necklaces later. You can also use PVA glue as a varnish to put on top of the paint. It stretches out the pasta necklaces activity for longer. For boys that don’t want to make necklaces, you could make pasta snakes instead and thread them on pipe cleaners.
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Then, we made dried food collages. Sometimes if we don’t have card, I cut up old cereal boxes and they use them instead. It works better than paper for gluing solid items. I just set out plates with dry beans, lentils, rice, seeds, oats, etc. You get the kids to draw a large picture and then fill in the different parts of it with whatever they like. You can also do this with cut-up coloured paper, fabric remnants or string painted with a mixture of glue and paint. This activity took more than an hour and the girls didn’t get bored with it – which is rare for them 🙂 A word of warning – the clean up took a while, but it was less painful than I’d expected it to be.
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The girls watched a film for a while and I got an opportunity to have a cup of tea and write. I think it’s important to squeeze in time for your own things when you’re with kids all day. If you never get time to yourself, it’s easy to get snappy!

We made some easy shortbread. It was just three ingredients and we tried some new cookie cutters we hadn’t used before. They have cut out parts so you can balance them on the rim of a teacup. I made some babyccinos and a vanilla latte for myself and then allowed TV time again so I could drink it and write uninterrupted. It reenergises me, so when I do something else with my kids I’m able to focus more on them. Jazz helped us survive the day in the house too. I’m convinced that it cuts down on the number of squabbles over toys and creates a calmer atmosphere.

It can be hard to treat yourself as a stay at home mum, but I think the things that work best for me are taking time out in the kitchen, listening to music, lighting scented candles and wax melts, making coffee-shop style coffee, squeezing in short times to write, read or draw. You can colour alongside your kids too if you get an adult colouring book. I like using the kids as an excuse to bake too so I have freshly-baked treats 🙂 There is a youtuber I like watching called “Coffee with Kate.” She makes videos about her simple lifestyle and the creative things she does. My daughter likes watching it too, because she does cooking videos and has two children. Finding something you like to watch that your kids enjoy too is a good way to attend to your need for a break while they’re awake 🙂 At the moment, our house is a dump, and I’m just letting it go, because being with my kids and sitting drinking coffee in the midst of the mess are more important today.

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Ways To Make Time To Read When You’re Too Busy To Read

8 Ways To Make Time To Read When You’re Too Busy For Reading

I aim to read more than I actually ever do. It’s hard to get immersed in a book when you have young kids and a multitude of distractions coming up on a minute-to-minute basis. I still like to have somewhere to escape to when I’m mired in mundanity.  When you have little time, you have to sneak your reading in in small snatches. Here are a few tips to read more with less time.

1. Read in Unexpected Places

My favourite place to read is in the bath. It’s the perfect time to get peace to read since you’re already lying in one place (provided your kids aren’t awake.) I keep books on the kitchen counter too, so I can read a page here and there as I’m waiting for water to boil, etc.

2. Don’t Tackle Huge Chunks of Text In One Go

Plan to read a poem in a free moment, or a short story. Read a chapter at a time so you are still making time for stories. Don’t expect to complete a 300 page novel in one sitting. Expecting to achieve this will only lead you to abandon attempts at reading altogether.

3. Read With Your Kids

If you have kids, read alongside them. Read one of their stories aloud and then encourage them to “read” to each other using the pictures while you read some of your book too. Get used to broken reading if they are around.

4. Go To Bed An Hour Earlier

Plan to go to bed a little earlier so you can read in bed. It’s one of the best places to read because there are no distractions and it’s comfortable too 🙂 (if you can stay awake.)

5. Read Instead of Checking Your Phone

Cut the amount of time you spend staring at your phone and spend it reading something valuable instead. Put a book somewhere as accessible as your phone, so when you reach for your phone, you think to pick it up instead.

6. Read With Your Morning Coffee

I found a book about squeezing artwork into your day by drawing your breakfast each day. I guess if you don’t have the energy to embark on that, reading would make a good substitute. A bonus is that it makes you sit down and slowly enjoy your coffee instead of gulping it down on your way out the door.

7. Find More Substantial Magazines

I find that magazines like The Simple Things send you away with ideas for your day and it is easier to find time for a short article than more in-depth reading, without missing out on solid writing and storylines.

8. Read Books That Combine Text and Image

Sometimes books with imagery are easier to dip in and out of. You can pick up ideas books, design books and travel books to flip through in a spare moment. The pictures break up the text and make it feel less insurmountable.

Enjoy fitting in ways to be a bookworm in a busy world: it’s better to read little than to read nothing at all 🙂