Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

When our daughter, Anika, was three, we took her out of daycare so that I could have some time with her and her brother over the summer before going back to work (I was headed back to the corporate world that fall). They spent the summer home with me.  I’ve never been so challenged to come up with creative activities to keep children busy.  Anika had been going to daycare for two years while I was in school, so she was all about “centers” and “jungle bus” and did NOT like to be bored (at 16, she still doesn’t). Parker had just finished first grade and was used to his days being filled with learning and recess (he still can’t stand days when there’s nothing going on). Their brother Kyle was going to a dayhab program, but their sister, Kira (who was going into her junior year in high school), was often around when she wasn’t working or at cheer practice.

Since it was nice weather, we did try to spend a lot of time outside, but in Boise, where we were living at the time, has a high number of days where the temperature is above 90 degrees and the ultra violet rays are at their highest risk.  Indoor activities become a necessity! I was extremely grateful for Nickelodeon –Dora, Diego, Lazy Town—they certainly made my kids happy.  But since this was to be my last summer off with the kids before taking the long-hour corporate job (who knew how things would work out), I made extra efforts not to rely on the TV.

We baked cookies every Friday.  The kids did all the measuring and mixing, and Parker was able to use his math skills when we doubled the recipes. We used water paints and practiced mixing colors to see what new colors we could make.  The brushes were quickly abandoned in favor of fingers and I ended up with some wonderful artwork on my fridge from my little ones’ fingers.  The summer went too fast, really, but we came up with some great ideas for spending time creating memories together:

  • Making tents out of sheets and having a picnic
  • Popcorn and movie days
  • Dress-up. Parker and Anika acted out scenes from favorite shows and movies, and then made up some of their own stories.
  • Art time.
  • Blocks. All of the kids have loved playing with blocks, either the wooden kind or the extra large not-legos.
  • Mommy’s helper. Yes, this is how the housework got done and the laundry got folded.

Now, Kira is the one home with young children. Her daughter, Hallie, is two-and-a-half, and until her baby brother was born, got to leave the house every day to go to a play center here in town. Now, she’s stuck at home and often has to find ways to entertain herself a bit when mom is working. This means getting to watch her favorite movie, Frozen, every morning…but Kira tries to spend quality time with her kids, just like I did with Parker and Anika.

Hallie has access to a lot of things her aunt and uncle did not, like electronic educational games (there are a ton on my Kindle that she knows how to use). Hallie also likes to take photos with her mother’s phone and spends quite a bit of time on FaceTime with her grandparents in England.

There are so many delightful ways to spend time with your little ones when they are little. I’m envious of Kira in a way that she is in this stage – it ends far too quickly. I hope she enjoys every moment of it, and when she’s not, this nana is more than happy to relive some memories by spending time with her granddaughter.