Undeniably, I live a busy life. There is always another project to be completed, garden work to be done, dish cloths to be knitted, bread to be baked. I think the one thing people ask me more than any other question is, "What do you do with your kids when you're doing all this?"
Heh. That makes me smile. As though it requires a baby sitter or Baby Einstein to get things done if you've got kids in the house.
Wherever I am, my kids are too. There is almost always something they can be doing, some way their little hands can be involved. If I'm picking peas, there's a toddler at my feet eating as many as she can stuff in her mouth. I can't remember the last time I measured flour by myself for muffins or bread. Little hands work well for crushing tomatoes to be canned, and there's magic to be found in harvesting seeds from a lettuce plant. If I pull the KitchenAid out of it's corner on the counter, two little girls are tying on aprons and pushing chairs to the counter before I have a chance to turn around.
Little girls can do things like grind applesauce; they can turn the crank on a pasta wheel or a nut grinder. They can fold washcloths and put them in drawers.They can put the primer on a piece of furniture:
They can help pot up leggy kohlrabi seedlings:
They can even help Daddy build new raised beds for Mommy:
Keeping it fun involves very little pressure. If they lose interest, encourage some creative or active play nearby.
And taking a break for play time is a must, not just for kiddos, but for Mommies and Daddies too.
As I type, there is a teepee set up in my living room, and there are two little girls inside with a flashlight, back packs, and little cups of dry cereal. They'll be happy there for awhile, camping out mid-day, reading stories and cooking up a plastic gourmet dinner.
Knitting can happen any time, anywhere. I'm often sitting on the floor amid blocks and choo-choo trains churning out a sock while they build a city around me. Sometimes I tell a story while I knit and they play-act it out - even better if they drag out the fancy hats and aprons and shoes from the dress up bin. On one side of my scrapbooking desk I've got a box of un-used photos and scraps of fancy paper, a blank book and glue sticks. Chloe creates scrapbook pages along next to me, and Cora's usually on the other side drawing on the white board easel with dry erase markers.
Our life is a constant dialogue. If they aren't actively participating in my work - and often times they'd rather not - they are nearby enough that we are always talking. Sharing thoughts, telling stories, discussing the benefits of solar power, whatever. Much of our homeschool takes place that way - a discussion while the girls string beads at the table and I work at the counter. We may not be working side by side, but we're still together.
I imagine a lot of kids would consider things like planting a garden, kneading bread, and canning plums "chores". Maybe it's just that no one has told my kids that yet, and they haven't figured it out for themselves, but so far, they just think this stuff is fun.
And if all else fails? Well, then there's Baby Einstein.