How to Bring Back Your Life’s Rhythms: Keeping Hands Busy

Weaving Banner Busy HandsThe world’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees from the plane of its orbit around the sun and hasn’t changed significantly in the last 40,000 years.  Although the world’s physical tilt is basically the same as it has always been, there’s no denying that our home-life rhythms are definitely tilting at new and different angles. With the onset of Coronavirus, we are living in completely different worlds where families are now working, learning, and keeping busy all together under one roof.  The familiar household rhythms and routines of going about our lives has been temporarily disrupted . . . making all of us, especially preschool children, feel a little shaky on our axis.

Their days are suddenly filled with large, inordinate, uninterrupted blocks of time at home. There’s hardly anywhere to go and few places where they can be just plain silly, jump up and down, or run about with the wild abandonment so famously akin to all young children. The shiny plastic toys have lost their luster and even pestering and teasing siblings is getting old.  If you are a preschooler, all of this is unsettling and maybe a bit boring. If you are a parent, all of this may be nerve wracking and perhaps a little overwhelming.

Children's artwrok painted weaving projectEnter Grandma’s Law: Busy Hands are Happy Hands.

My grandmother did a lot of handiwork and kept her hands busy with crocheting and knitting:  hats, scarves, mittens, slippers, doilies—you name it, she made it!  Her hands were always busy with the repetitive and rhythmic movement of knit . . .  purl . . .  knit . . .  purl.  As her hands moved with precise rhythm, she would often say: Busy hands are happy hands!

Grandma isn’t the only one who believes in the importance of busy hands. Occupational therapists, for example, use activities involving hands as a primary form of therapy for children’s issues such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Recently, neuroscientists have found that busy hands can positively alter the brain’s chemistry making us feel more productive and responsible, less anxious, and happier.

Although introducing knitting to preschoolers probably isn’t advisable, one simple way to encourage grandma’s mantra of busy hands is with family weaving projects.  

The most important element of family weaving projects is understanding the importance of wholeheartedly involving your child in the entire process of the projects—start to finish. Invite your child to join you in searching the kitchen, garage, or backyard for weaving bases and materials. The possibilities are truly endless.

Child and Adult weaving together natural loose parts

Weaving Bases Weaving Materials
·       Strawberry Baskets

·       Link Fences/Gates

·       Baby/Pet Gates

·       Baking Racks

·       Y-shaped Twigs

·       Colanders

·       Bicycle Wheel

·       Raffia

·       Vines

·       Yarn

·       Rope

·       Ribbons

·       Pipe Cleaners

·       Wire

Child's art project fabric weaving on a wheelDesignate your child as the Master Weaver of the household, which means creating a workplace or artist studio in the home that belongs uniquely to creating weaving masterpieces. Include furniture that is just your child’s size, such as a small table and chairs. Add child-sized shelving for storing the potential weaving bases found around your home. Be sure there are plenty of storage baskets for all the collected weaving materials. Consider selecting a storage shelf that is big enough to handle large weaving bases such as bicycle wheels or hubcaps. Supplement the space with authentic materials gathered easily from nature including pinecones, river rocks, and driftwood or personal artifacts (i.e., photographs, beads, broken/unwanted costume jewelry, feathers, buttons, etc.) for children to add to and enhance their weavings.

Then invite the family’s Master Weaver to conduct weaving sessions for everyone to enjoy. This sends a message of your child’s importance as a valuable and competent member of the household as well as creates new home-life rhythms for the entire family.

Nooks with Books and Other Homeschool Spaces - Lauren's Larning Lab featuring Dr. Sandra Duncan

Dr. Sandra Duncan joins architect, teacher and mom, Lauren Magee, in an episode of her new web series, Lauren's Learning Lab. In this installment, Dr. Duncan shares bite-sized ideas on how you can design small or large spaces into the right home learning environment for your children. These flexible spaces allow for children to have quiet, private time, or collaborative building time with siblings. Check out the video below:

How to Bring Back Your Life’s Rhythms: Establishing Routines

image © shutterstock_1089847160

There’s no denying it—we are living in a new normal with families now living, working, and learning all together under one roof.  The familiar household rhythms and routines of waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and then leaving the house and going about our lives has been temporarily disrupted . . . making all of us, especially preschool children, feel a little unbalanced.  They feel off-kilter because their lives have been interrupted and routines broken.

Young children need routines to help them feel safe and secure in these times of uncertainty.

Because routines are predictable and repeated events, they help children know what to expect. Routines provide children a sense of security and a feeling of being safe so it is important for us to create home environments of consistency with familiar rhythms. One idea for bringing back home-life rhythms is holding morning family meetings.

In the workplace, morning meetings are commonplace. We gather around the meeting table with notepads, pens, phones and a cup of coffee to discuss company plans, ideas, challenges and work strategies for the day, week, or even month.  In a preschool classroom, early morning meetings are also part of an everyday routine. Designed for short periods of time, morning classroom meetings—typically held on a large gathering rug—effectively set the tone for a preschoolers’ day as well as establish a sense of community among the children.

For many of us, these normal routines are now gone as the family safely hibernates in the four walls of their home.

So, what can we do to bring back normalcy?

We can begin to create routines in our children’s lives that mimic the morning classroom meeting by beginning each day with a family meeting.  Gather together and share each other’s plans for the day. Calm children’s worries and celebrate in their accomplishments. Find something children can anticipate such as movie and pizza night.

Children's Routines Sandra Duncan Home Life Rhythms

Natural Loose Parts Detail Classroom Woven Basket

The most important element of morning meetings is understanding the importance of being little and listening to your child’s viewpoint.

This means creating a place in the home that belongs uniquely to them. Create places in the home with furniture that is just their size. Design spaces that remind them of their learning center or preschool.  Include a rug, for example, that reminds them of their morning meeting at school. Get down to their level—both physically and emotionally—by adding a dramatic play center with a sink, stove, and refrigerator.  Include some blocks and shelf for storing.  Add authentic materials gathered easily from nature such as pinecones, river rocks, and driftwood.  And, then conduct the family morning meeting in your child’s unique and personal space, which sends a message to them of their importance and acceptance as well as creates new home-life rhythms for the entire family.