Over on the Ora Et Labora board (see sidebar for link), a new homeschooling mom asked:
"Here is my problem, I feel that I can do the homeschooling part. I actually look forward to it and enjoy learning with my dd. My problem is she is almost 5, so we do about 45 minutes of lessons per day, but I have trouble filling it the rest of the time. We do some coloring, playdoh, playing, but it seems like a lot of work to keep my 2 kids (almost 5 and 3) entertained for the whole day. Besides the fact that I have other work to do around the house. The days seem so long sometimes especially recently, everyone is sick and we have barely left the house. All this time, I was so worried about the homeschooling aspect, but I am finding that it is filling in the rest of the time that is the difficulty.Any advice?"
Aha-ha! I knew there was one aspect of parenting that I am an authority on- the ability to keep kids from saying, "I'm bored!"
Occasionally I will play tea party or train with my kids, but not often. My title is "Mommy", not "Playmate". I tickle them, read to them, indulge in practical jokes, provide schooling, and create a learning-rich enviroment filled with art supplies, puzzles, games, and interesting books. They get to learn, play, create, and help out when I ask. It seems like an even trade, though I would like a bit more help with the laundry.
My children are not allowed to be bored- I provide 4 playmates for them all day and they must keep each other occupied and entertained.
Obviously there is a balance between being at the mercy of preschoolers and being a totally hands-off parent who doesn't want to play at all with her children. But I have managed to be a fun mommy who will play airplane (lie on my back and let a child fly on my feet), and one who can bring a 7 year old to a hospital room for 2 hours and not have her say, "This is boring!" a single time. (she sat and started re-reading BFG)
The single piece of advice I can give is to teach, and sometimes demand, that your children learn to entertain themselves. It will help them and you many times over in the next 20 years.