Keeping Your Preschooler Busy

Mom Alert!

Avoid reliance on rigid routine—it will only frustrate you and your child. Flexibility is the key to a good relationship with your preschooler. As your child grows, introduce new activities and avoid underestimating his or her abilities.

Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This

Watch the foods your child eats. I was careful not to give my younger children chocolate because I had read about sugar highs, but I wasn't as strict with my older child. One day I came home and found my son literally jumping from our window seat to the couch and then to all the other furniture in the room. I had never seen him like this. I investigated further and found a bag of party goodies that must have belonged to his older sister—and a little patch of chocolate candy wrappers hidden under the couch.

Womanly Wisdom

Vinyl tablecloths are great to put on and under the table while your budding artist is at play. They are easy to clean and pretty much stay where you put them.

If you are staying home all day with a preschooler you really need to have a positive attitude—and a lot of flexibility. You are going to feel very out of control if you expect to be able to live within a rigid schedule. You can structure your time, but you have to remember that every day your child is growing by leaps and bounds, both mentally and physically. Her interests and abilities will change rapidly—just as you are getting used to one routine, she's likely to surprise you with something new.

Finding Salvation in the Great Outdoors

If you are staying at home with a preschooler, make it a point to get up, get dressed, and get out of the house as much as possible. Preschoolers need a lot of stimulation. If that need is not met, they may fill it themselves by destroying the house or torturing Mommy. And getting out is good for you, not just for your child. If you know all the Sesame Street songs by heart but have no idea who the president is, or isn't, you really may want to get out a little bit more.

Be careful to avoid overstimulation. I was not the walk-in-the-park type of mom. If I was going out, I liked to be where the action was: I loved taking my children to county fairs or local events and always had fun. The only problem was that the children would get overstimulated—the exact opposite of what I wanted to achieve. When a child is overstimulated you may as well forget about bedtime or sanity until she comes down from her high.

Introduction to the Arts

Preschoolers like to keep busy, and arts and crafts activities are ideal for this age. The simpler the better, and the messier the activity, the more they like it. I was not a stickler for a neat home, so I didn't mind a little finger paint on the floor. It is really good for little ones to be able to express themselves, and messes are inevitable. If you are not comfortable with a messy home there are all kinds of products that can help keep things clean while you give your child some creative freedom.

More on: Babies


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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