This post is sponsored by Nuffnang and Yoplait.
Sometimes I look at our gorgeous littlest one and think about how different his life has been, compared to that of his eldest brother. When our first son was little we worked as much as we could around his routine and his awake time saw me spending pretty much all of it devoted solely to him.
There was baby massage, mothers’ group, babe in arms films and the like and one on one play time with me every single day.
Our youngest though is the last of five and was born on the 22nd Jan. Within a week of being born, the new school year began and while I let him dictate his routine as much as I could, it really revolved around the activities of the other kids. Often I would have to wake him, try to get him to feed before we went on the walk to school and squeeze his sleeps in around kinder and school pick ups.
I think he had a baby massage once, we did playgroup for about a year only when he was too young to really know what it was, the first movie he slept through was UP! where I sobbed with the kids and there were often days where we didn’t play together.
He is one of those kids though, that entertains himself very easily. He will play with the toys we have set out or I will set up an activity and he will amuse himself while I cook a meal, do housework, listen to the kids reading, or help with the homework.
He used to be a very early riser. Long term readers of the blog may recall many mentions of 5am starts with this fellow. Thankfully he did out grow those.
Now he is often woken up. Woken up from his afternoon naps to do school pick ups, woken up in the morning on weekends so we all can get going and get where we need to go on time.
As guilty as I feel about it, he seems fine with it all; it is just the way his life is. He has an amazing knack of finding fun pretty much anywhere he goes and with a bit of planning from me, I am often surprised at what a great time we can have in a fairly ordinary situation.
Making the ordinary fun
Here are some things I have learnt from the years of making the most of the ordinary with the little ones, so it isn’t just being dragged from place to place:
Prepare the night before
Prepare both the stuff we need and what the kids want to take along when we are going to be out for long periods of time. As time will usually be tight in the morning, I also get the ones who aren’t actually playing to pack an activity bag or a toy/ball that they would like to bring.
Just like a school night we will also get clothes out as well. Once the littlest one sees that his brothers have soccer gear out, he will often want his too, so it is better to make sure it can be found to avoid issues in the morning.
Start with a surprise
Waking the three youngest earlier on the weekend than a week day is a painful thing to do, but sometimes it has to be done. Getting them up to do the usual thing, but just earlier and therefore more tired, can lead to complaints, grizzling and bickering.
I have found I can short circuit this, by making breakfast different to what we usually do. Here are some quick ideas that have worked for us:
- Hot chocolate and toast (we normally never have hot chocolate for breakfast!)
- Fruit salad (summer)
- Yoghurt breakfast snack (pictured above)
Have the right equipment
In summer, this generally means just the picnic blanket which is nice and easy, but in winter it requires a little bit more effort. The soccer pitches and surrounds are generally damp and it is too cold to sit on the wet ground even with a picnic blanket. Taking along a couple of chairs works wonders. The little one adores them. Often he only sits in them for such a brief time, but you can bet the week I don’t bring it, it will be the week he wants to sit the whole time!
Join in their play
While we are at his older siblings sporting activities, there is plenty of time for me to watch on and also play with him too. He may have been carted in and out of a car much more as a youngster, but hanging around at footy, cricket and soccer so often also means he has had lots of ball skills practice!
If we were to buy snacks each week instead of bringing our own, it would cost a fortune. I try to bring along something more interesting on top of the usual fruit and crackers as a bit of a back up for those moments that need a bit of saving. A little something up my sleeve to bring out to distract and surprise can turn things if they are starting to go down hill!
As you can see by the look on his face, he was delighted with the vanilla yoghurt hot chocolate. I loved it because it was so easy to pack for and make:
Take one thermos of hot chocolate (no milk or sugar added), a small tub of vanilla yoghurt and a couple of mugs.
What do you do to find some fun in the day to day?