Buying parents a few minutes of rest? Am I a bad mom? No, simply striving for emotional well-being. After all, we parents must prioritize our own emotional health in order to best meet the needs of our children, particularly because our job responsibilities include repeatedly diffusing tantrums and providing around-the-clock care. Not a job for the faint of heart or mind.
So how do I buy myself a few minutes of free time without the use of television? Not that I’m completely against TV, it has its purpose, but I prefer guilt-free free time that drives my daughters’ learning, creativity, overall physical fitness, or hand strength/ dexterity. My favorite 5 activities my children play that give us all “free time”:
- The bounce house. We bought our girls a small indoor/outdoor bounce house for Christmas a few years ago, and it has gotten countless hours of use. I can set it up indoors and leave the room for a few, or set it up outdoors and take a seat on the porch while they unknowingly become more fit, absorb vitamin D, and work up an appetite. For children who are blind or visually impaired, a bounce house is a wonderful way to increase strength and balance with no accommodations needed.
- Molding and shaping with dough. I ask my preschool daughters to help pour and mix ingredients to make an egg-less cookie dough recipe. We make dough without eggs so they can eat the dough risk-free. Anyway, we make a double batch so the girls can squish and shape their batch while the first batch bakes, and they will continue to “play baker” easily for an hour. Voila! We escape the summer heat while I get an hour of free time and they gain sensory play, hand strength, and creativity.
- Listening to a recorded story. I usually love reading to my girls, but there are times I opt to play a recorded story and get a few minutes to pay an online bill or check my e-mail. Plus, I remember the vivid adventures the radio show “Adventures in Odyssey” took me on as a child. The girls gain a love of stories, increased vocabulary, and improved listening skills. If your child is blind or visually impaired, it can be particularly helpful for comprehension to enjoy an activity together, such as swimming, followed by listening to a story about swimming.
- Legos. We love to build structures together, and the girls enjoy building for a few minutes by themselves. They play indoors on an old children’s table we converted into a Lego table, or they play on the go (for instance, while camping) on Lego building plates we glued to scraps of wood.
- Creating nature art. In the cool of the day my girls and I will take a neighborhood walk and collect nature items of interest. We talk about each item’s weight, texture, size, scent, color, and purpose. While inside, the girls enjoy cutting, gluing, and taping the pieces on cardstock.
Do you have activities your family enjoys that enable free time for all? I’d love to hear.
To peruse additional activities your child can perform independently or with a buddy, read through Parent’s Perspective: Free Time Activities for Children Who Are Blind and Have Additional Disabilities. To make toys and activities appropriate for your child with a visual impairment, read the FamilyConnect article, Ideas for Adapting Toys and Materials for Blind or Visually Impaired Preschoolers.