My husband and I, after 20 years of parenting, 5 of our own children, and 35 foster children, have plenty of practice parenting. Yet one thing I’ll say is this — we can never know enough about how to be a good parent. There is always more to learn.
We always seem to have a time of chaos during transitions. There’s that time right before we are getting ready to go somewhere when I am running around getting things packed up to go. We have it again when we come home and I’m getting unpacked. We have these times throughout the day too when I get busy with this or that. Kids are amazingly intuitive and will use my busy times to create their little tornadoes of chaos.
I use the idea below when I am dealing with one child’s needs and the other child gets into something he shouldn’t, or when the phone rings or when I have an unexpected visitor.
This idea is so simple, yet has been amazingly effective. Each child has their Special Spot where they are assigned to go when I say “Go to your Special Spot.” This is not a punishment or a time-out. We have a few books and toys (no more than a couple items) at each child’s place. Paul’s place is in the living room between the piano and the bookshelf. Zack’s spot is in the family room next to the bookshelf and fireplace.
Note their places are in different rooms, but within my sight. I don’t want to send them to their rooms since I prefer they be in my line of sight, and I don’t want them to think this is a punishment.
However, I don’t want them within sight of each other. They would start to make faces, throw toys, or generally bother one another.
We’ve taught the boys that when we come home after being out of the house, we have the exact same routine.They put their shoes away and then each goes to their special spot, every single time. Then Mike or I can start bedtime, put away groceries, or move into whatever the next activity.
Update: We’ve added a pop-up tent to each kids spot like this one. They like having their own little private space!
Our kids are currently elementary school age. For really little ones, try putting them in a high chair or exersaucer with a few toys and a soft book.
A chair with a couple books nearby could also be used instead of a place on the floor for older kids, such as a teen with special needs.
Our kids don’t spend a long time in this place — 10-15 minutes typically. They are allowed to talk, but they do not get up without first asking for permission.