While stepping out in my backyard yesterday, I noticed one thing. It was quiet. I mean there was no other noise besides the trees swaying and the sound of a few cars driving by from holiday traveling. The moment reminded me of one of my grandmother’s “southern gal” expressions that always brought me to tears of laughter. “It’s quieter than a mouse pissing on cotton,” she would say. It was that way since my 6-year-old son A.J went to Balmar Beach with a cousin for the Forth of July weekend. He does go out with family sometimes, but I forgot how it felt to get a ton of things accomplished without him. I began to think about all the activities I use to engage my son when multitasking to get through the day. My next task was listing them and finding more options. Here are a few ideas that came to mind.
These ideas aren’t drenched in novelty but they work. Bedtime was comical when my son was one; at least it was for him. He’d seem to be sleeping but as soon as I closed my eyes, he’d pull a fast one. By hearing his giggles and watching him stare up with big playful eyes, one would think any mom would be putty in his hands. However, at 1 am in the morning, most mothers are resistant to the cute cuddly baby bit. We want to sleep! My family and I discovered a trick, which never failed to send A.J soaring into a slumber. It was listening to music — not just any kind of music but Jazz and Rhythm & Blues. Before reaching the middle of the song, A Very Precious Time by Jazz Artist and Poet Gil-Scott Heron, A.J’s eyes became heavy as lead. I guess he couldn’t fight the slow melancholy tune. It was either that or boredom. Now, A.J stays heavily involved in the sport of the season. Usually during those months, his sleeping patterns aren’t as bad. If he gets restless before bed, we play games on my phone from the Android apps on Google Play, such as Hangman and Tic Tac Toe, until he goes to sleep. The extra time allows me to do little chores around the room.
Achieving weight-loss and maintaining a routine workout is another challenge. My goal is to lose 30 lbs, and lately, I’ve tried to balance an effective workout routine with A.J. Exercising at 5:30 am to Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred, which is an intense and convenient cardio workout, can be done in 20 minutes. Given that I’m not a morning person, I chose another avenue. I have learned to include A.J in my workout routines. I go to the park and jog on my own, but when I can’t, we’ve worked out with cd’s or with short workouts On Demand. I’ve even created a military-like setting using crates and hula hoops (instead of tires) planted sturdily in the backyard soil. A.J leaps on the crate and catches the ball that I throw to him, then drops down. He does this repeatedly until we change roles. Trainers also use the same “Box Jump Drills” for toning, improving power, and reflex development. Another kid-friendly workout is bike riding or running along side your child while he or she rides. Why not challenge them to a race? Kids are competitive by nature.
A fun tip written in a study by Indiana University mentioned that a simple way to include a variety of basic motor development skills for younger kids is to create an obstacle course.
“The children can go through, in, over and under obstacles; throw balls at a target, and jump over a rope or crawl under a rope (if they are in a wheel chair). Some equipment to use for basic motor skills are air mattresses, cones, mobiles, balance beams, balloons, balls, bean bags, hoops, mirrors, rattles, ropes, targets, tires, and tunnels.”
Incorporating fitness and thinking games into activities while parents complete other tasks not only helps to engage children but also develops their cognitive and motor skills. In the same study, it stated that movement is one of the most important aspects of a young child’s life including children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities.
Balancing life-tasks doesn’t have to be overwhelming but fun and conducive to child development. A few simple ideas can go a long way in keeping them engaged because they’re always eager to learn and explore.