Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2004
What do you do when you don't feel like doing anything with the kids? Are there days where you don’t feel like doing anything with the daycare kids? They seem perfectly happy just playing, and you can’t find the motivation to get out the craft supplies or do your weekly themed activities. Well, you’re not alone. Or, the holidays may be approaching, and maybe you feel you have so many personal things to take care of that you feel overloaded.
Sometimes it depends on the group and ages of children you have at the time. Maybe you used to do a lot of preschool activities with the three and four-year olds, but find that the two year olds you currently have in care are not yet interested in sitting and coloring or making things. You end up doing most of it for them because they just aren’t capable of doing more at this point.
Or, you may have the kids that are capable of doing crafts but just don’t have the interest. Maybe you have to face the fact that some kids would rather be up running around or doing physical activities instead of sitting and trying to concentrate. If you have to convince them to sit and they whine or complain, it doesn’t make anyone feel any better.
Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth planning crafts or activities. The parents don’t seem to notice, or at least don’t say anything, about fewer items coming home at the end of the day. Some are happy as long as their kids aren’t watching tv all day.
Maybe you lack motivation because you spend too much time preparing lesson plans and activities. Maybe you unconsciously resent the time or money taken away from your family to prepare such materials. Then look at quality rather than quantity. Is it necessary to complete a craft every day? No. Aim for once a week or whatever suits your needs.
Try to remember that you are a home provider, not a daycare center. You are not expected to plan every minute of the kids’ day. Do you (or did you) plan activities and entertain your own children all day long when they were little? Most of us didn’t. If not, then stop feeling guilty. Avoid looking at what you don’t do, but what you ARE accomplishing during the day.
It’s not hard to sing songs or do little fingerplays. The kids are still learning. If they have educational toys to play with (blocks, playdough, or dress-up clothes) then you are fostering cognitive and small motor development. If you take them outside, that enhances their well-being with fresh air and helps develop large motor development. If you ask “Why do you think that happens?” Or “What do you think caused that?” or any other type of leading questions, you are allowing them to use their imaginations. Do you read stories to your daycare children? Then they are learning listening and reading skills.
Try to find less time-consuming activities (on your part). Let the kids cook or bake with you one day. Have the kids dance or sing songs. Think water. What kids don’t love playing with water and a few measuring cups in a sink or large tupperware-type tub? They also love to wash dishes. Find those plastic ones from the kitchen playset and let ‘em go. Put out a bunch of plastic utensils or kitchen items to play with. Toss out a few blankets and make tents. For indoor fun, pour some rice, dried beans, or hard corn into a plastic tub and let them measure, pour and dump to their heart’s content. (As always, use appropriate judgement when letting kids play around water or with small objects.)
The bottom line is – you have to give yourself a break also. Maybe you find that for several months out of the year, you are on top of ordering craft kits, doing weekly themes, and everything goes well. Then allow yourself some time off from these activities – say, in summer when the kids are outside most of the day. Or give yourself a break during the holidays. When you feel ready to go back to the activities, you will feel refreshed and your kids might be more willing to try it again.
Remember, you are doing a great job as a childcare provider. So sit back, relax, and watch the kids play.
About the Author
After 16 years of working outside the home, Cindy now operates a family daycare from her home. She enjoys helping others interested in starting their own daycare.