Monday, February 7, 2011

Playroom Burnout Prevention and Nighttime Routines

Clark knows how to make lacing cards look "tough!"

I feel like the kids are getting burned out on the concept of the playroom.  Yet I am not willing to take down the walls, so to speak, and let them have non-stop free reign of the house.  When there are three of them and one (or two) of us, they still outnumber us and can get into trouble, get hurt or just cause destruction in any form.  I'm just not willing to go there 24/7 quite yet. 
Lately, we are allowing them more and more time "on the outside" meaning that they spend time in the family room, kitchen and upstairs.  Generally the areas they have access to upstairs are mostly child-proofed.  But the family room and kitchen are still touch-and-go.  Most things are safe, but you never know what might get dropped on the floor or left on the table.  And you never know how they might approach Teddy (the dog) when we aren't supervising and we won't ever be comfortable with that until they can fully understand the idea of a dog's demeanor and natural defense-mechanisms.  And they are three, so they are just naturally curious and pretty much without the understanding of fear because they, thankfully, have had very little experience with any sort of catastrophe (like big falls from something high or cracking their head on the corner of a very hard table, etc).
Anyway, I am just not ready to give up the comfort of knowing that they can be tucked away relatively safely, albeit potentially unhappily, in their playroom so that I can run to do something (throw in a load of laundry here and there, hit the bathroom without an audience, fix dinner without the risk of dumping a pot of scalding water on a child, etc).  I HATE the gates.  I am tired of the play mats.  But it still affords me the luxury of having a moment to run off and hide in a corner to scream go wash the dishes. 
So tonight, I tried something a little different after dinner.  I want to do their baths one at a time since it is usually just me in the evenings.  It gives me a little one-on-one time and it is certainly much safer because I'm less likely need to look the other way for a minute when I have just one in the tub.  I set up little "play areas" in Emma's room.  It is the most "entirely child-proofed" room upstairs where I feel comfortable with them playing while I'm behind a closed door giving one a bath.  I had different toys/activities for them to play with while I got started on the baths.  I showed them the different areas and toys positioned around the room and they were excited to get started.  So much so, that I had a little trouble getting a volunteer to take the first bath, but eventually Clark agreed. 
It worked!  Well except for the part where Kendall got the closet open and dug out the box of mementos and other things (baby books, wrist bands from NICU, etc) which apparently also included a black Sharpie.  While drying Clark's hair, I heard Ems bang on the door screaming and found Special K chasing her with the marker.  Ugh!  That resulted in a "time out" for Kendall and a BIG lecture for her when she had a bath. 
Oh, and the other incident?  Clark chased Emma with the lacing beads trying to hit her.  First of all, if you know what these beads are, you know that they are pretty big and chunky pieces of wood.  Secondly, why is it that Emma is being tormented again?  I just don't know if she is doing something to instigate the attack or if it is unprovoked and she's just the easiest target for them.  It is definitely puzzling and disturbing, but again, a time-out was issued (for Clark instead). 
After baths, the girls and I settled into the guest bed that is still situated in Clark's room.  He was more interested in playing with toys, but stopped by to check on us occasionally.  We read a few books and I found some music clips on YouTube to watch with them.  They love a certain version of "Twinkle, Twinkle" and we love a number of songs by Elizabeth Mitchell.  I tried to select soothing, peaceful songs to get them in the mood for bedtime.  And I managed to get Clark in bed just before Daddy got home.  He helped me get the girls in bed and all were down before 9p, which is amazing these days.
I'm going to hope that the time upstairs will give them a break from the monotany of being in the playroom and will also help us transition to bedtime (preferably an earlier one).  So we will try this out for a few days and see how it goes.
Once again, I'm pooped and ready to call it a day.

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