Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"How do you get anything DONE?"

Apparently, in this day and age, having four children who are all little at the same time is virtually unheard of.  When in conversation, someone says, "Do you have children?" and I say, "Yes, I have four!", the jaw drops, and eyes open wide.  I guess it is shocking to have four kids.  To me, it just seems normal...and maybe a little chaotic.  Well, maybe very chaotic.  But still normal, I swear!

People are always asking me how it is possible that we ever get anything done in our house.  To be fair, we have pretty low standards.  :)  No, really, our house runs very well usually, and we are a pretty happy little family.  We even manage to homeschool our first grader and our pre-schooler.  That's what this blog post is really about.  I wanted to share our system for keeping the baby and the pre-schooler busy and active and learning and playing, while still out of Hannah's way so she can work on her math and reading.

So here is our secret: we set up a toy rotation.  Our house is pretty tiny, but we made room on a storage shelf out in the entryway to store 10 or 12 different toys.  We picked toys that both a 1 year old and a 3 year old could play with, at the same time, without needing help from a parent.  We didn't buy anything, just collected toys from around the house.  Now, each day during school time, my husband (the homeschooling parent) takes out a toy for the younger ones to play with.  This is the only time they get to play with the toy, and then they won't see it again for at least a couple of weeks, so it really grabs their attention.  Sometimes they will sit on the floor and play together for a hour and a half!  That's amazing!  Here are some of the toys that are in our toy rotation stash: Aquadoodle, dolls with playpen and stroller, Mega-blocks (like big legos), a plastic bin filled with several pounds of elbow noodles and some digging tools, and a parking garage with cars.  Here's a picture of how we cram it all in.

An added bonus to this system is that now all these toys are not cluttering up the kids' bedrooms!

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