At-Home Toddler Activities with Beth from Days with Grey

At-Home Toddler Activities with Beth from Days with Grey

Do mornings with your young children often feel hectic? Does starting the day with TV or iPad games set the wrong tone for the rest of your day? Beth from the website Days with Grey has a solution: start the day with simple, intentional, play-based learning activities! In this episode of Unbabbled, Beth, a teacher turned stay-at-home mom turned business owner, discusses how starting the day with engaging learning activities can set parents up for a day of playing and teaching children new skills, all while giving parents a few minutes to relax and enjoy their coffee. Throughout the episode, Beth gives ideas of how to bring these simple activities into your daily routine, explains her philosophy on teaching through play, and shares her favorite activities to do with her boys.

About Our Guest

Beth is an educator certified in K-12 with a master’s degree in reading. After teaching for 13 years, she started Days with Grey in 2016 to share the educational activities she was doing with her two boys. Now a mom to three boys, Beth shares her Breakfast Invitations and activity cards with families all over the world through her blog and Instagram. We hope today’s episode inspires you to start you day with play! 

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Stephanie (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to Unbabbled. A podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication, delays, and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel, and we're certified speech language pathologists who spend our days at the parish school in Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them. Do your mornings with kids feel hectic to starting the day with TV or iPad games sent the wrong tone for the rest of your day? Beth, from the website Days with Grey has the solution. Start the day with simple, intentional play-based learning activities. In this episode, teacher turned stay at home mom turned business owner, Beth discusses how starting the day with engaging learning activities can set families up for a day full of play and teach young children new skills all while giving parents a few minutes to enjoy their coffee. Throughout the episode, she gives us ideas on how to bring these simple activities into our daily routine, explains her philosophy on teaching through play and shares her favorite activities to do with her boys. Beth is an educator certified in kinder through 12th with a master's in reading. After teaching for 13 years, she started her blog Days with Grey in 2016, to share the educational activities she was doing with her two boys. Now, a mom of three Beth shares her breakfast, invitations and activity cards with families all over the world through her blog and Instagram. We hope today's episode inspires you to start your day with play.

Stephanie (01:33):

We are so excited to talk with Beth from Days with Grey. If you don't know about her blog and our Instagram, you need to go check it out right now. I have been following along with her and getting activities to do at home with my own children for years. So I'm very excited to chat with her and find out more about how to support our toddlers and young kids at home. So thank you for being here with us.

Beth (01:56):

Thank you for having me.

Stephanie (01:58):

So can you give us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to start this blog and Instagram account?

Beth (02:05):

Sure. So my background is elementary education and when I taught, I've taught at the same school for 13 years before leaving. And during that time I had an add-on certificate for teaching accelerated and then also got my masters in teaching reading, and I've always had this passion to create a learning environment.

Beth (02:27):

And so I think that's always been within me. So getting started with the blog, I had a toddler at home and a new baby, and I found that, you know, the days can feel really long and everybody tells you that, but, um, it couldn't be more true and you try to fill it with different activities. And what I found was when I was going out for a walk or a hike or the park, we started talking about things that I knew were kindergarten benchmarks and applying them to the every day and between that and feeling this deep calling within me to put it all onto a platform, um, that's how Days with Grey began. And it's really funny looking back it's, it's just turned five. And so when you go back five years ago, it's really funny because I told everybody, no, I need to work.

Beth (03:22):

And I would like, you know, you have that break as a parent and I didn't necessarily have money to go to Target during my two hour time away from the family. And so I found myself instead going to Starbucks and going to my job, you know, work this, this, this blog. And, um, you know, at the time I didn't necessarily see the vision of, of where it was headed. I just knew that I needed to do this for myself and for a community that I was slowly starting to build. And that's how Days with Grey began. It just was simple activities and trying to get them down on a platform for other people to use as well.

Stephanie (04:05):

So you were talking about creating a learning environment. Can you talk a little bit about like your philosophy behind supporting young children and learning?

Beth (04:14):

Well, biggest thing for me is exposure, especially with these early learners and being able to introduce something and then letting them pretty much decide what happens next is really important and valuable for their learning. So I keep things very open-ended and very flexible. If I set up something that I thought was going to be sorting and they end up going into imaginary play, I'm going to let them carry on that imaginary play. And then as I see it starting to end, then I may just hit home back on that sorting. So it's like, you know, here's your sorting activity. Okay. Now they're talking about the bears, you know, having a party with the manipulatives. And then I might say, Oh, you know, it looks like you have a lot of red bears. How come you put them all in this spot? And then we're like hitting back home to the idea of sorting and feeling that process over product is really important for the early learners, because they're making so many connections with prior knowledge and then adding to the prior knowledge within their play.

Beth (05:19):

So my philosophy is really based on the process, the flexibility and then, and then also just being able to watch it circle background into their everyday play. And you know, the other big thing is that to focus really on the stages of learning rather than the ages. So never thinking that it's like, okay, a two-year-old activity, but that, all right, well, they've mastered, you know, the circle and square, you know, can we extend onto that particular, you know, they're two dimensional shapes or just kind of building on rather than it has to be a second two-year-old three-year-old milestone.

Stephanie (06:01):

Yeah. I like that. Especially since we work with a lot of children who have very scattered skills and their skillset, maybe their language is delayed, but their cognitive and their math skills might be going right on target. So thinking of things, as on a spectrum of where they're at, instead of what age they should be is a great frame of reference and focus. Yeah.

Meredith (06:25):

I love how you, you let it flow naturally for the children and let it be more child directed because I feel like children learn so much more when they're more engaged and motivated with the activity or the manipulatives versus, Oh, no, this is supposed to be a sorting activity. And now you have to sort,

Beth (06:41):

Yeah. And that just creates stressful environment for everybody. You know, the, the caregivers stress because they're not doing it quote unquote correctly. And the kids stress because they're like, well, I don't even know what you wanted me to do. I didn't know. And it's just like, you know, when you have a conversation with an adult, you know, if they already thought how you were supposed to answer something, you know, it just creates conflict. And so keeping the environment really risk-free learning through play is, is just a better success rate for everybody.

Meredith (07:10):

So if people aren't familiar, you set up these really amazing breakfast invitations. And when you set them up is your idea of that they, this is something that they go through independently or do you sit with them and step-by-step take them through and be like, no, I'm going to teach them this exact concept.

Beth (07:29):

Yeah. It's a combination of the two. So what happened was years ago when I, I have three children now, but when I had only two, I am not a morning person. And so I would like not really want to jump right out of bed to all the demands. So I'd say, okay, you can watch a show, but what happens is like one show leads to two shows and then we turn the TV off and everybody's cranky and it's just a rough start. And so I thought about, well, like how could we start with the intention of play? And so I came up with these really easy breezy setups that you can do the night before, put down on the table. So that in the morning when you're making breakfast, drinking your coffee, your child is also engaged in learning. And over the years I found that that was the quick way to explain it.

Beth (08:11):

But what really happens is that your child is connecting with you and they're getting your attention, which that attention, and it's very casual attention, but that attention was filling their bucket. And then they'll go off and play after breakfast because they already met with us. They checked in it set. So it's like the intention, okay, here, what we do here is we play the connection. Okay. I have my parents, um, attention. It's very casual there. I'm not sitting next to them doing their activity with them, but I'm across the kitchen chit-chatting as they're working. And so, and then the other thing is that it kind of like sets the plants to seed and revs up their engine for play. So it's a little mini play lesson that eventually takes them off into the other room to go stack magnetic tiles or whatever it is that they want to do.

Beth (09:03):

So there's, there's three main benefits that I've seen over the years with my boys. And, you know, you can start breakfast invitations, and you don't have to do them forever. It's really just hit that restart button of shifting the mindset from, okay, here's how we start our day plays important here. Play is your job. This is your work. And, um, it's important to me. It's important to me. It's important to you and here's how we're going to begin our day. Uh, and it, it transforms everything. And then I like to bump the television time or whatever, whichever downtime parents like to have. For me, I don't, I don't mind a 3:00 PM TV time. And so they'll watch TV and that's when I can go on my break. And, you know, I, I prefer to put TV later on in the day, because by that time you think, okay, well, they may not have some seven. How many hours have they been playing? You know, we can, you know, we can scale back and now take a break rather than when you use it all in the morning. It kind of just set the tone for the day of walking in circles, how I felt. So

Meredith (10:04):

It's almost like you were in my house too. They wake up hungry and cranky and then they just want to watch TV. And then they forget how to think for themselves after that.

Beth (10:13):

Correct. Yeah, that's true. And now I do say that in between newborn babies, that's when all of this just needs to not feel the pressure of like a breakfast invitation or TV, you know, a lot of things need to just press pause after that newborn baby. Um, but once you feel like, okay, I'm ready to hit restart. Then, then this is a great way to do that.

Meredith (10:34):

What age range of children have you found that breakfast, invitations really benefit? You know, do you see this working with toddlers all the way through elementary age kids?

Stephanie (10:43):

So I, we always start around two and a half and two and a half three. Is that really sweet spot to start with a lot of flexibility? So that's a lot of color sorting. That's a lot of like setting out this plate prompt, but letting it go in a lot of different directions. And then, you know, my older children still, my oldest is seven and he still loves a breakfast invitation. The difference is, is that he's now had five years of starting his mornings Monday through Friday with play. And so he's not as he now has his own rhythm down, right? So I'm not going to ever take my seven year old away from his Lego build and tell him to go do a breakfast invitation, but when he moseys on and he comes on over to the table, you know, and he's interested then of course, like he has something just to tweak just to pique his interest. Um, but you know, that, that, that older three, four year old, they just soak everything up. And they really, really love to feel confident in themselves. They love to learn. They love to explore new things. And so that's a really, really great age that preschool age, um, late toddlers, a great time to start.

Meredith (11:54):

Yeah, I can totally see my six year old being motivated just because his three-year-old sister is into it. Like I can see that drawing him in for sure. And he would probably probably make it into something totally different than she did.

Beth (12:06):

Yes. My oldest two, they would work together. Um, and they have very different skill sets. But what I learned is that peer learning, they learned so much from one another one was more of like the creative side. The other one was more of a literal side. And so together, their little conversations, um, were just so powerful and more than way more powerful than me leaning over their shoulder and saying, you know, do it this way. This is how you need to measure the line with, you know, cubes. So, so letting letting that flexibility of like the peers and the siblings work together is great.

Stephanie (12:40):

When coming up with these activities, what types of early development concepts do you tend to like to bring in or teach?

Beth (12:50):

So it's a combination. I've studied a lot of the kindergarten common core standards because it gives this umbrella that has the majority.

Beth (12:58):

And so understanding those, I always try to take those main ideas and then scale them down to plant the seed of this learning idea into the top other and preschoolers. So there's that. And then there's also like the combination of life skills. Uh, you know, there's, there's a few different things. So like cutting is huge and cutting seems really scary when you are not an educator and you're not used to, you know, what these sharp objects were going to do to your child's care or couch, you know? And, um, but, but the reality of that is the more it's available and the more it's out and you teach your child how to hold the scissors, not even cutting, but you teach them how to hold it when walking, I'm sure things happen, but the growth that they can take on with the responsibility and the accuracy is, is worth it.

Beth (13:47):

And so it's the cutting, it's the glue stick. It's those fine motor skills. A lot of, you know, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm hearing like a lot of teachers seeing that for fine motor the pointer fingers, the strongest finger, and the rest of the hand has not really been used. And that's because they're pointing on the iPad. Um, especially after all this time home, you know, for the pandemic. And so you know, some of these life skills and fine motor, you know, strengthening is really important in these early years because, and, and I, I even delay teaching them how to write any letters for the first few years of life. We are just squeezing things and pulling off stickers and cutting and gluing. And it seems so bizarre to think that all of that will lead to proper pencil grip, but I've watched it. I've watched my children go from a backwards hand, holding a pencil, like a backwards fist to, to a perfect pencil grip. And it all came from these small fine motor LifeSkill action. So it's a combination of the two.

Stephanie (14:52):

Yeah. I started doing a lot of your cutting activities. Cause I found my son when he was, because he was like, three-ish he got a hold of his older sibling scissors. And he was so into them. I'd never really sat down and taught them how to cut. And so he found his sisters like American girl doll horse, and gave it a haircut. I was like, Oh, so now we're going to have to work on his cutting appropriate things. And he loves to cut and he'll just sit there and cut and cut and cut and pet and cut. So now we've worked really hard on giving him a lot of fun, appropriate things to kind of starting his day, cutting things. Luckily, my daughter was very calm about it and was like, yeah, look, she got a haircut.

Beth (15:37):

I was like, Oh no, but that worked out and you know, that's true. Things happen. They just do. And if it's not, that it's something else. And so, yeah, on repeat, it's like we only cut in on paper. We only put food in our mouth. You know what I mean?

Beth (15:56):

Yeah.

Beth (15:56):

As a parent, you know, you just try to say that, like, this is what we do kind of phrases and it really helps, but, um, I'm, you know, and like he said, you know, they, they may not know how to hold those scissors, but the more practice they just come around and they get comfortable with them and, and they really, they really improve.

Stephanie (16:16):

And, you know, the more he did that muscle and that in Play-Doh, he loves Play-Doh, he's really starting to get a much better grip over time. And I never really worked with him on, on pencil grip.

Beth (16:29):

Yeah. A hole puncher is another really fun one.

Meredith (16:33):

That's really fun.

Stephanie (16:34):

Are you trying to make a huge mess in my house?

Beth (16:39):

Welcome to Days With Gray

Stephanie (16:44):

Is that something that you've come to embrace this, knowing that as we teach kids this and let them explore and a variety of things that there might just be a mess along with the creative fun process.

Beth (16:54):

So right now I have all three home with me all day. Um, my three, my five and my seven year old they're homeschooling this year. And, um, yeah, I mean, it, it just, yes, there's a mess, but you watch them learn and you watch them play independently and collaboratively. And the reward for that right now for me is just, it's just a much larger reward than having this clean and tidy house. And so certainly clutter is not something that any of us want to live in. And so it's also like teaching this responsibility of like, okay, well now it's a big, large group cleanup. And that works really well too because of that 3:00 PM TV time. So they always know, well, before you're going to turn on the TV, you're going to all, we're going to like reset the classroom. You know, we're going to like, get, get, get the scissor pieces, get the, you know, scraps of paper off the ground, going to put the scissors away and we're going to, you know, so, so having that sort of reliable or, and repetitive, like routine will also really help with that cleanup of all the things that happened with play throughout the day.

Beth (18:06):

And then after that, yeah, that I'm pretty strict because once the day is reset for, you know, the next day, you know, don't, please do not dump out a bag of, you know, marbles.

Stephanie (18:20):

So you mentioned, you know, cleaning up their play throughout the day before the 3:00 PM TV time or the technology time at the end of the day. But how long do you expect, or how long do you see that they hang with some of these activities that you, you lay out for them for breakfast invitations?

Beth (18:33):

So a breakfast invitation is not going to be extremely long, but what it is going to do is it's going to set the stage for the day. And so I've seen before that you can judge like a minute per age of the child and, or you can double it. I think what it was. So if there are three, you can expect six minutes. And I would say some go on much longer than that. Typically, you know, they start as I'm prepping breakfast and then it continues as they eat breakfast. And then after that time is done, then they'll run up and play. So it can be anywhere from like double their age to a little bit longer, depending on the activity. Um, but the, the biggest benefit is that you're setting these up in also less than five minutes. And, you know, along with that, you're also seeing that whatever you showed them that morning, you're eventually going to see it show up in their independent play. And that's where the magic really happens when you see them like sorting on their own and measuring objects and, and kind of taking that little play prompt into their own term.

Stephanie (19:35):

So for people who've not been on your blog or your Instagram, can you describe what a few of your invitations look like? I know you mentioned, you know, fine motor activities, but can you give it a few examples of maybe your favorite one?

Beth (19:47):

Yeah. So I like to keep things really simple with supplies you already own. So you were thinking like paper, you're thinking markers stickers, you know, I don't know how many of us have this just random collection of stickers, but one popular one is sticker match. And it is just literally putting a sticker on the left and a sticker on the right. And their job is to connect from left to right and match that matching stickers. Um, when I asked my boys this morning, like the DIY board game is another really fun one. You just, you just create a squiggle board game. Um, it takes three minutes and that just uses markers. Another really fun one is this domino matchup. And so you can, or domino loops. So you make this big loop and you write the totals of the dominoes all throughout the track or the loop. You can call it whatever you want based on your child's interest. You know, you can even put like a little card there if you want, and they just take the domino out and put it around the loop. Um, those are some really popular ones. Color sorting is almost always a win for those, um, toddlers that can see the colors. Now, if there's some color discrepancies, that's probably not the best one, but for children that, that like to differentiate classifieds great.

Stephanie (21:01):

A favorite in my house is the muffin tin rescue.

Stephanie (21:08):

Like I said, my child loves scissors.

Beth (21:10):

No, and that one's really funny because that morning we do Sunday night set ups on Instagram. And so every Sunday at seven o'clock or seven 30, I try to gather with the community so they can set something up for the week or for Monday. And that particular one, I walked around my house with that muffin tin all day long, because I was like, everyone has a muffin tin, what are you going to do with the muffin tin? What can you do with the muffin tin? And then finally, like, it was like a light bulb, but you know, challenging with objects we all already have is, is, is something I like to do as well.

Stephanie (21:43):

You've mentioned on your Instagram account that if setting up activities doesn't work for parents in the morning. So like I work and we leave at like seven o'clock in the morning.

Stephanie (21:57):

So my kids don't get up much other than to eat breakfast and then have me shove them out the door. Are there other times of the day you find this works really well for.

Beth (22:06):

Yes. And I never would tell a family if they are like, how can I make this work? We leave at seven. I'm like, well, you don't, you do not. So there are so many other ways. Um, you, there are activities when you need them. So maybe it's dinner prep. Maybe it's a lot of working families like to bond with their children over the weekends with this, you know, there it's a post snap activity. It, it really is a great idea and a great play prompt to use when you need it.

Beth (22:35):

Uh, large group has found that they love them as breakfast invitations. So we're going to run with that. We're going to continue, like talking about breakfast rotations, but 120%, you're going to make these work for you. There are no rules.

Stephanie (22:49):

Yeah. Having summers off, I tend to do them in the morning, over the summers. But, uh, during the weekdays, while we're working, we use them more like when we get home from school, because I find that there's always this, I have to unpack everything and do this. And they're like, want My attention are demanding TV. And so if I give, have an activity ready to go, then for them, when they come home from school, they can even kind of decompress with play instead of bickering.

Beth (23:14):

I love that. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Yeah.

Meredith (23:17):

Our mornings are so hectic of my children's sleeping, so we're trying to wake them up to get them to school and, you know, we're the kids eating in the car, you know, cause we can't get them up early enough. So, but you know, dinner prep in our house is it's a tough time. So this definitely could be something to use then for us, for sure. And the weekends, of course, because they want to get up early on the weekends and go straight to the TV because it's the weekend. But for sure, it'd be great to start, you know, start the day with play for sure. I am

Beth (23:46):

I'm all for a flexible weekend because then everybody can take off. You know, I think that we also need a chance to not be the ringleader. And so, you know, I think that relaxing on the weekend is also just as valuable and important.

Meredith (24:02):

This is a little bit of a tangent, but one of the things that I loved following your adventures and felt so jealous of your area was watching you and your boys go on their bikes through like mountain and dirt biking. And it seems like you have a really great philosophy on letting them explore risk. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Beth (24:24):

Yeah. So that was a really great, they call those a pump track and what they are. So there it's a circle with, with, you know, up and down mounds of dirt and risky place in me, um, helps them understand like how their body works and how it moves. It gives them a chance to like problem solve and come up with, you know, conclusions. And so I do like to take them to different places that they can test those things. Um, and I find, you know, when they fall, I do try to like take a step back and uh, you know, let them analyze how they feel. They typically come home from adventures like that with their shoulders, a little bit higher, they're standing a little bit taller and they're really proud of themselves. And I think that that's the best gift that I can give them.

Beth (25:11):

Um, now as a parent, you need to set your own boundaries. Like, are you, you know, what are you comfortable with? And that, that to me is my biggest thing. If I'm ever not comfortable and something doesn't feel right, we pack up and we can leave. And so I think you have to know your own boundaries as well, when it comes to risky play of, of, you know, what are you comfortable with and finding those spots like the pump track. That was something that was a place I felt comfortable in. I knew my surroundings, you know, I knew how to get help if I needed it. And I saw enough people where I didn't feel like I was alone. So I kind of went through my mental checklist of like what I needed in order to like step back and give them the opportunity to learn something about themselves.

Meredith (25:56):

Yeah. I find that my, my kids are very different also. And my oldest really looks for opportunities to engage in very risky play. She's a climber and a jumper and all over the place. And it really forced me to kind of check my own personal, like, okay, I know developmentally that risky play is really good for her. How can I get it to the uncomfortable without freaking out? I also found that if I put that play on my husband, he's a lot more comfortable with it. And then she doesn't feel as held back is what I'm like. But she's found on her own like the height of trees that she wants to climb before she feels scared or can't come back down or the height of our porch that she'll jump off before

Meredith (26:44):

She feels uncomfortable. And she jumps off of our porch and we're in Houston. So my house is elevated, so it doesn't flood, but our neighbor's house is elevated higher. She went to go jump off of that porch. And then she was like, Oh, maybe I come back down a few steps. So it was nice to see her problem-solving and judging on her own. Where is I think that initially I probably would have been like, we don't jump off of any of these porches and she never would have been able to explore that.

Beth (27:09):

Yeah, that's true. And I liked that she assessed it, that she was going to go to the next one. And then she was like, yep, Nope, not ready for that. So

Meredith (27:17):

I have two daredevils. They've never changed their minds from a risky adventure, ever, even, even things that you would think couldn't be used in a risky manner when they found they have found a way they have found a way. I see the same thing when they do something, we got this trapeze swing and immediately my son wanted to hang upside down and then he wanted to flip over and then he wanted to hang upside and pull this off and sit on top of the trapeze swing and you know, the confidence that he felt and the pride that he felt after he did it. Like you were saying, they come home a little bit taller when they accomplish something like that. And, um, maybe I'm the right mom for that. I really don't stop that risky, risky play very much, but they love it. They look for it and they seek it out.

Stephanie (28:02):

I love that. What are the most common questions that you get from parents?

Beth (28:08):

Uh, how to wear the white paper role is, um, Oh gosh, I should know that question right off the bat, but I don't really because my brain is fried at this point in the day. Um,

Meredith (28:25):

Do you have any advice for parents who have now listened to this podcast or have checked out your blog and, or your Instagram and have decided they want to get started on some of these breakfast invitations? Do you have any advice on how to, how to get started?

Beth (28:39):

So I have a start-up guide. You can find that on the blog as well. And that's a great place to start. I always say there's, there's a few items in our, in our shopping area. There's the startup guide, which lays it all out. So that's kind of like what to expect of your child's stages more than ages. It's, it's how to, you know, reframe that TV time, have a hit the ground running the startup guide is great for people who want to hit restart on their day. Then there's the activity cards, which are a great resource for, you know, just like ideas when you need them. And so they're, they're five by seven really nice card stock ideas on the front with on the back has set up what to expect, um, and conversation starters. And so those are great resources, how to begin these activities in your home, that you can just pull out, use them as an instant rather than, or use them in an instant rather than searching Pinterest or, you know, trying to find a Google, you know, searching Google.

Stephanie (29:37):

That's great. So I think Meredith asked you earlier about like time expectations. Is this something that you just do, like one activity a day, two activities, are you like we're going to do these seven activities all day long?

Beth (29:48):

No. So we're going to start the morning with a simple breakfast invitation, and then they're going to roll right into play, plays really important in our house. And I want them to just do all of that on their own terms. Um, and then a lot of times, you know, in that mid day, right, it might be more of like a sensory activity. So maybe you're like pulling up the kinetic sand. The Play-Doh water plays huge for us at my almost four year old, loves this game called squirt the alphabet. And so it's like just a squirt bottle and I put like water, maybe food coloring.

Beth (30:18):

And he squirts this poster with the alphabet on it. Uh, so a lot of times like the rest of the preplanned ideas will be when we really just need to like move some things around, uh, or if they've hit a little bit of a rut of playing, but so sensory in the afternoon and morning would be to start off with a breakfast invitation.

Stephanie (30:41):

Yeah. I think a lot of parents feel pressured that like every time they play with their kid, it has to be some sort of like preset learning opportunity. But it sounds like you're saying that like the play is a lot of their learning opportunity.

Beth (30:54):

Oh 100%. And I think the other thing that seems to be a myth, you know, when you look at a picture on Instagram, you see children playing, I think you also need to remember that children are playing right by our side.

Beth (31:05):

So it's, it's not, you know, to expect our children to be, you know, upstairs in the playroom, as we're like downstairs checking emails, that's just, that's not what children crave. Right. So we also have to develop this pattern where we are okay with setting the boundaries. So if you were working, you can say, you know, like, okay, well I'm working, you're welcome to sit right here and play with the Duplos, but I'm not available to play with you. But if you tell me what you'd like to play, you know, I could set this timer when the timer goes off, you know, then we can play together. And, um, so setting the boundaries and knowing that your children are also going to be close by, or that's really important because when you, when you don't realize that, then you can set yourself up. You're not setting yourself up for success because you have these expectations that, that are just going to frustrate everybody.

Stephanie (31:54):

We have a playroom and it's on the same first level is like our living area and the kitchen. And at the end of the day, we have to take every toy that they pulled out of the playroom while we were working back in the playroom. And we're like, you should have put doors on this playroom so we could shut them in it, but that wouldn't have stopped them.

Meredith (32:12):

It is amazing how just being present can encourage the play. Like if I just sit in the playroom, I see that my kids are much more interactive with their toys and start playing. If I'm just present. Also a lot of times, my six year old would be like, Oh, I'm so bored. I don't know what to play. I don't want to do, but if I just go in there and pull something out, I don't even have to use a lot of language. If I just start manipulating things or get some action figures or something out, then the next thing I know he's over there on his totally,

Meredith (32:40):

You know, fully involved in the play.

Beth (32:44):

And cardboard and some color tape and paper towel rolls long way. And that's why I'm really a big, um, advocate for like the art cart, you know, and just keeping a few go-to supplies that your children can always rely on. Going back to that has been huge for play in our house.

Meredith (33:04):

Yes. Cardboard is very popular in my home. Yeah.

Stephanie (33:08):

At the end of every podcast, we ask our guests a question and it can be, the answer can be relevant to what we talked about today, or just anything you want to give. If you had one piece of advice to give to our listeners, what would it be?

Beth (33:23):

The one piece of advice that I like to give is to take the season that you're in and think about how you can make it work for you and your children.

Beth (33:34):

So if there's something that you really enjoy doing, try to find the way to make it work for both of you. So if you're someone who's pretty active and you like to work out, try to find that stroller that fits everybody. If you are someone who likes to read, don't feel that, you know, remind yourself that you can pick up that book and you can just read, you know, while you're trying to play. So think about the things that are really important to you and find ways that you can include your children in that. And it may just be 10 minutes. It may be longer than that, but keep doing the things that you love, even with your children by your side.

Stephanie (34:13):

That's fantastic. Yeah. Good advice. And I'm picturing your giant stroller as you give that advice too.

Beth (34:21):

Yeah, I know. It's like the funniest thing. I mean, you get the funniest looks, but you just have to keep your head down and just, I'm sure. You know, it's just the funniest stroller.

Beth (34:33):

Well, thank you so much. It was such a joy to talk to you guys and thank you. All right. Well, thanks for having me on.

Meredith (34:43):

Thank you for listening to the Unbabbled podcast. For more information on today's episode, please see our episode description for more information on the parish school, visit parishschool.org. If you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the Unbablled podcast on your app of choice. And if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review a special thank you to Stig Daniels. Amanda Arnold, Stella Limuel and Molly. Weisselberg for their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.