It's no secret that playing with Anne is hard work for me. My mind doesn't work like a 3 year olds. Playing imaginary stuff is difficult-I even remember it being difficult when I was a 7 year old. I am more wired to do things that are structured and have rules and boundaries-like puzzles, reading stories, games and crafts. Since Jamie's been born I've realized just how difficult it is to play with Anne. I truly think that the time Jamie has "taken away" from Anne has been minimal. Before he came time I spent with him now, was spent on other things-chores, play dates (where I would chat with moms and Anne would play with peers), and of course my downfall, the Internet. Now that he's here I have to focus my time more so there is less time for Internet and chores but it has become more clear that my time with Anne isn't the 12 hours I have at home with her every day-it's more like an hour a day that is spent in concentrated, one on one, bonding time with her. And someday it's not even that.
So realizing this and desperately wanting to have quality time-instead of the quantity time we have-I decided to play to my strengths of organization and planning. I planned out one activity a week until the end of this month. I put each activity on a to-do list calendar that gets emailed to me at the start of each week. I don't mark it off until I've done it with her. This is week 4 or 5 and so far I've been able to do every activity with her. My plan is to continue this indefinitely. You might read this and think "One activity a week! I certainly play with my child more than that!" Let me clarify-this isn't the one and only activity I do with her every week. She still gets that hour or so of playtime a day from me. These activities are in addition to the normal playtime. The goal of these are to get to spend some really fun, quality time with her and even maybe throw in some purposeful learning too. One week we played a game with chalk and making shapes and other things. It was a huge success and wound up spiraling into an hour long pretend game of dinosaurs and Goldilocks. Certainly something that wouldn't have happened without the game. Another time I taught her to play a modified kickball game. This week we played with shaving cream outside and went on a "nature walk" and collected leaves to make a "nature bracelet". (Last week's weather was warm and/or rainy so I had to skip last week and do both activities this week.) Here are some pics of the fun we had. Both activities were a big success for both of us!
Anne's "nature bracelet". It was a piece of tape wrapped inside out around her wrist that she could stick leaves to. When she was done we cut it off and covered it with another piece of tape to prevent it from sticking and to keep the leaves on.
If you're interested in some of the ideas I've come up with here are some books I've been using and really love: