A Bloggy Break

I haven't been around these parts for the last couple of weeks. I was in need of a little break from my blog. Does anyone else feel like they need a break sometimes too?

I was just feeling a little bogged down by it all. Like my bloggy life was taking over my real life. I couldn't enjoy the kids playing without snapping a photo and thinking about how I could turn it into a post.

I was starting to plan things so that I could post about it, rather than planning things that my kids would enjoy and then turning it into a post. I started to see posts everywhere and I was constantly thinking about what I could write about next.

When I wasn't thinking about posting, I was checking emails, looking for comments or checking how many visits I'd had, then I was checking out other people's blogs all the time, reading, commenting and thinking about what it all means for my humble little space. I really felt like it was taking over. I was constantly distracted.

This was never what I wanted my blog to be. I wanted to use it to complement my life, not dominate it. Because I was thinking about my blog so much, my washing was piling up, my house was messy, my kids were getting their own snacks and making do with the toys left out from yesterday. Because I was thinking about my blog so much, I wasn't getting much paid writing work. I'd stopped thinking about articles I could write and be paid for.

So I needed to take a break and give myself some space and it's served me well. I love this little patch of cyberspace I have and I love writing for it. It used to be my favourite thing to do because I could write about what I wanted to write about, when I wanted to write it.

And now with some space, I have all those lovely feelings back again. And, from now on, I need to give myself set times to be online and this time I need to stick to it. It's really important I give myself the time I need to get things done and it's equally important that whatever I'm doing has my full attention. I just work better like that.

I love the way a little bit of space can sometimes give you some clarity and in the meantime I've cleaned out cupboards and reorganised a bunch of stuff around my house. It feels good to get so many things done that I just haven't been able to find the time for. I know life is often refered to as a juggling act, but I seem to work better when I don't have all the balls up in the air at the same time. I think as I get older, I've realised I just like to hold one or two at a time and put the others down. Just for a little while ...

When Baby becomes a Toddler ..

My lovely god-daughter is now 19 months old and, I have to say, looking after her is a much busier time than it used to be when she would sit exactly where I put her.

The first time I looked after her after she started confidently moving around was quite a challenge and I really had to re-think what toys I put out for her to use and where I put them. This led me to write an article that is feautured on pg 66 of this month's "Practical Parenting" magazine - called "Baby on the Move"

It's all about how life (and play) changes after baby starts to move around and includes some ideas on "play stations" to set up for a baby who has just become a "toddler". These play station ideas are really open-ended, so they suit children aged from around 9 months, all the way up to children who are almost 2. They can be varied according to the interests of your child.

When I did this for my little Ally, she played independently for over an hour, keeping herself busy with what I had set up. I just made sure I wasn't far away so she could come and visit and play near me if she needed to and I also made sure I checked in on her every now and then, asking her questions and showing her toys she hadn't discovered yet.

Here is what I set up for her:

A dolly to feed

Some furry friends

A place to hide (her favourite thing)

Some baby toys and musical instruments

Some noisy buttons to press

Interesting animals

Somewhere to sit

Some light reading

A basket of pegs

I spread everything out around the loungeroom so she could move about and explore

This was a couple of months ago now, but I looked after her just the other week and did a similar set up, with the play stations just a little more elaborate now she's older. She still had her cubby, but I added some blankets, food and a high chair for the baby and also set up a pretend cooking area for her.

The wondeful thing about these play experiences is they can keep little ones busy and engaged for long periods of time. Setting small staions up around the room like this allows children to go from one thing to another (as young children are prone to do) and then back to things they enjoy, without getting bored. It also gives them lots of opportunity to
- practice motor skills
- problem solve
- explore
- have an effect on their environment
- create and imagine
- concentrate
- use their memory
- practice language skills
- play out things they see mum and dad do

I'm looking forward to her next visit. I have some ideas up my sleeve taht I can't wait to try out. I'll keep you posted