I have a 4 year old. A very busy 4 year old. His name is Creed, and he is cute as a button (which has saved him from being eaten many times), but he’s always on the move, and often at the expense of his brothers and sisters.
Not too long ago, the older (more mature) members of our family had a meeting all about our little “Crazy Creed.” We needed to structure his day, and we needed everyone over the age of 10 on board with the plan. If you follow me on Instagram (@amyraisingarrows), you might have seen the photo of my journal with Operation Occupy Creed and his schedule written in it. If not, here’s that photo…
We are four days in to Operation Occupy Creed. Creed is four years old and extremely busy! His entire day has to be mapped out, but I can’t be there for him every single second of the day. We had a big family meeting on Sunday and this is what we came up with. So far, it is working really well! #toddlerlife #preschooler #raisingarrows #crazybusy #familylife #homeschool #schedule
Creed’s morning is filled with morning chores, breakfast, listening to the family read alouds, and playing. If he gets rambunctious, his 11 year old brother is there to occupy him. Keian’s school work does not take as long as his older siblings, so he can wait until later to do it if need be. They can go outside, play inside, or grab a Busy Bag from the cabinet.
I want to take a brief moment to talk about these Busy Bags, because I think you are going to LOVE these the way I do! (You can watch the video here!)
I got the book Busy Bags Kids Will Love by Sara McClure. It was full of very easy, very inexpensive busy bag ideas made from everyday items. My intention was to take some time with my 16 year old daughter and make several of these bags, but with Mercy’s issues and Creed’s craziness, I wasn’t finding the time.
And then my friend Cinda stopped by and asked if there was anything she could do for me.
I immediately thought of the Busy Bags book because I was worn out from managing Creed, and I was certain if I had some of these on hand, I could more easily divert and redirect his attention when he was having a rough day.
She was more than happy to help me out, and she told me later that she and her older kids (she doesn’t have any littles left at home) had a blast putting them together!
Note: You could also get together with some friends and put these together – each of you bring the items for 3 different busy bags, assemble, and go home with a whole basket full!
The Busy Bags have been EXACTLY what I was looking for! And not only does my 4 year old love them, so do ALL of my younger crew, ages 8 and under!
Creed actually considers the busy bags part of his school day. And, honestly, they are! Most of the activities are VERY educational, and I am more than happy to pull out a bag and call it school!
I do most of Creed’s “school” after lunch. Now mind you, until Creed came along, I would have told you I was NOT a homeschooling preschool kind of mom. I would have pointed you to this post for my philosophy on homeschooling the younger years, and that would have been that. But, Creed requires more. MUCH more. He NEEDS guided play, focused activities, and structure to his day. I did end up buying curriculum for him, but I’m not quite ready to reveal all that I’m doing there…soon, I promise!
Another thing I put together for Creed are Toddler Boxes. Now, I’ve had a Toddler Box for my little ones since my last busy toddler (who wasn’t quite as busy as Creed). But, my Toddler Box was one big box. After reading The Homegrown Preschooler, I decided to try her method of individual Toddler Boxes. What a difference it made! (To see more about these individual toddler boxes, watch this video or listen to this podcast.) You can get The Homegrown Preschooler from the author’s site (which is worth checking out) or from Amazon.
At 4pm, we have movie time until dinner is served. This keeps the kids busy while I cook. Prior to implementing this, it was crazy town. I decided an hour in front of the tv a day was worth it to be able to focus on making dinner without all the chaos. When the weather is nice, the kids will often head outside during this time, but right now that’s the heat of the day at around 100°! Creed does really well (most of the time) with either one of these options. If he does start to crater, I will often bring him into the kitchen with me and let him “help.”
After dinner, my 12 year old daughter and 19 year old son become Creed’s buddies. Similarly to the morning buddy, it is only if he needs help, and they are also the ones to help him get ready for bed.
At bedtime, I step in and make sure he and his brothers are lying down. We say prayers and then I sit on my older son’s bed and work on my laptop, shushing the boys as needed, until they fall asleep (or at least 2 of them fall asleep). Creed struggles to settle down for bed, so having me in there is the best way we’ve found to get him to calm down and finally sleep…ahhhh…peaceful sleep.
It is my firm belief that God has big things for this little boy! His name is Creed after all! Until he’s all grown up, it’s my responsibility to keep him headed in the right direction. So, we are keeping him occupied and focused, and lovin’ on him all the while!
Do you have a busy preschooler? How are you keeping your little one busy? I’d love to hear your ideas, tips, and tricks! Leave them in the comments section so we can all glean wisdom from each other!