Five Activity Stations for Family Peace
I remember a phrase that used to come to mind whenever I felt my day was out of control (or should I say… my kids were out of control. Lol). I would think, “Here we go! It’s the tail that wagged the dog!!” I knew I had forfeited my good authority, and the “tails” were now in charge. I was convicted of the fact that God had blessed me with this family and my home, and in that, expected me to be a good steward of what he had given me (Matthew 26:16-30, the Parable of the Talents). To resolve this constant problem and to align my home with God’s intentions for it, I created little stations in my home. This made it so much easier to keep my kids on track, giving them regularly scheduled things to do, so that wrestling didn’t crop up so often, and media didn’t become the go-to, and I heard way less often the dreaded phrase, “Mom! I’m bored!!”. I would remember… God is not a God of confusion, but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). Now if (or when) things got out of control, I would simply look at my daily schedule that hung on the fridge, and give my children an instruction that they usually looked forward to following. They had a designated place to go, and the necessary items in place to accomplish the fun task. “Kids, it’s Coloring time.” and off they’d go to the coloring station. “Kids, it’s “Room-time” and off they’d go to their individual rooms. Because I had these stations set up in my home, and could easily direct their activity, I was able to get so much more done in my day as well. Of course my tasks weren’t the only goal of my day, but when I was accomplished in my tasks, time with my children became a bright spot in my day.
Let me share with you a few of the stations I used. These are not all super original ideas, and there are so many more. But the important key to this is the scheduled time throughout the day, making this a part of their routine. As you know your kids better than anyone else, you can probably think of some other actifivites that would make a great scheduled time, that will (or do) work beautifully in your own home. And, when you train them to leave the station neat and clean before they move on to something else, it also keeps these activities from spilling into all of your living spaces, so your home stays neater, more organized, and the family can breathe. There is peace. So, let's begin with some very basic ideas for scheduled activities.
1. Book and Bible Nook:
Parents aren't the only ones who learn to love a comfy spot, a great book, and a cozy beverage. If this becomes a specified daily scheduled time, your child will begin to love books and reading time! Make sure the books are rich in Bible truths and character. As your children read daily, it will make a lasting impact on their hearts. What time in their day will you apply this activity?
2. Coloring/Craft Table:
As children independently create they are increasing in mental and personal growth, developing fine motor skills, problem solving and reflecting the glory of our great and awesome Creator. Set up a small table and chairs so their feet hit the floor and they are comfortable for a length of time. Load a basket with coloring books, drawing paper, crayons, etc. so that when it's time to create, the station is always waiting for them. I even bought inexpensive pre-k workbooks, and was amazed at how many times those became their go-to project during Coloring-time. Creativity and learning! Win-win!
3. Fun and Exercise Arena:
Our all wise God gave us bodies to move and exercise for good reason. As we know, kid’s bodies are highly energized, so they need to work it off everyday! You will see an increase in their ability to focus and listen, along with better appetites! Happiness hormones are produced, and they sleep more soundly. Prepare a specific spot in your home, in the backyard, or make a daily trip to the nearest park. Set them up and train them with a plan that they know for daily exercise and active game options. Organize your spot with the usual jump ropes, hula hoops, balls and anything else that would be fun for your child and help them learn to use a timer for each exercise.
4. My Space:
My Space can begin with the baby by training her to be content by herself in a playpen where boundaries are secure. Also effective is Blanket Time, as you teach her to honor the borders of the blanket as her boundary. Eventually, when old enough and responsible enough, move her to room time. Set aside some toys and books that are only available in room time and use the door jamb as your child's new boundary. You will find your children may even ask you if they can go to room time during the day. The benefits include the ability to be self-entertained, it fosters imagination, a child becomes less dependent on others, it induces calming and security. AND... perk for the parent... it gives you downtime!
5. The Parent Spot:
This is individual time for you and your child to do something together. You can bake cookies, have a tea party, create a lego town, read a story together, or play a board game. The options are endless, and the value of this time is infinite. When you’ve had more time for your tasks as your children learn to work and play independently, this intentional time with your child becomes a joy! It’s an opportunity to pour into his heart, and becomes a cherished time to hear what’s in his heart!
You may be wondering how this works with multiple children. It’s so good! You simply have your children rotate through these stations. Sometimes you will have them play together, and sometimes they will be at their own individual stations. Of course there is some management on your part, but as your kids grow accustomed to this routine, your management becomes more minimal. This means less chaos, less conflict and so much more peace and joy in your home as the tail is now being wagged by the dog! Lol!. And most importantly, when you lay your head on your pillow at night, you can hear the verse from Matthew 25:21…
‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
By Sharon Cannavo