The month of September is a month of transition for many of us. We’ve said goodbye to long summer days and hello to schedules, routines, and alarm clocks.
For some of us, the transition to school leaves our families and our children divided. My four-year-old and six-year-old have gone off to full-day school, leaving my one-year-old at home, where she will remain for the next three years.
I have noticed a shift with my ‘left behind’ child, who is used to the noise and chaos of sisterhood. Below are some things to do with babies, toddlers, and preschool-aged children after their older siblings have gone to school.
Create a schedule for your child at home
Now that school has started again, a new routine is introduced. Students will be keeping to their tight schedule, getting used to the routine of daily school life. Why not introduce that at home, and create some kind of schedule for your at home child too? It might be something as simple as having set meal times, and a morning and afternoon activity. I love these five sample daily schedules for toddlers.
Find playgroups nearby
The beauty of having one kid at home is that it’s easier to get out of the house. Most neighbourhoods have a variety of free playgroups available during the day, and if you make it a regular routine you’ll also create new friendships, and so will your little one. We’ve attended groups at nearby churches, at recreation centres, and early years centres.
Make a weekly trip to the library
Literacy is important in our home, and surrounding my children with books and time spent in the library is one way that we introduce literacy into our routine. Each week we take our book bag and go to our nearby library branch, where I typically let my youngest explore the baby toys, and read her a book or two. There are also free drop-in storytimes that we like to attend, which offer an opportunity for my daughter to play and interact with other kids her age.
Go on daily walks
One way I like to break up our day is by going out for a walk with my daughter. Sometimes we walk to drop off and pick up my two older kids from school, which is a bit of a trek, and then we’ll stop in at the park to play for a while. If we drive the kids to school, I try to make time in the day to get outside and enjoy some time outdoors.
Make friends in similar situations
I am a big fan of the playdate, for both mom and babe. I love inviting people over to my home and putting on some tea. This is usually my favourite part of my day because I get some grown-up time, and my daughter has a friend to play with too. I try to plan at least one playdate every week, and I notice that my kids are happiest on the days that they have a good friend to play with, and so am I.
I think the most important part of transitioning from multiple kids at home to one is to keep community as part of your day. My kids love to be around other people and are usually unhappy if they aren’t able to socialize each day. Creating a routine around community and friendship is the best way to ensure your child doesn’t feel left behind during the school year.
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