The advice I am about to give you is only good for your first child. Once you add a second child to the equation, all bets are off. At that point it’s no longer about strategy and planning and activities. It’s about survival and sobbing and waiting. However, if you’re currently the owner of one small human or are planning on procuring a small human, preferably through honorable (or at least mostly honorable means), then let’s talk about the reset switch.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a stay at home dad and when I first was home with Vader, I did a lot of research. I read books and blogs and cue cards and I surfed the web looking for the “best ways to maximize your child’s social and psychological development”. As of the arrival of Chewy, I feel like I’d learned enough. Also, who the hell has time for any of that?
In any case, one of the more useful posts that I’ve ever read had to do with resetting your child’s play area. This is of course parent speak for “clean up after your kids, you lazy louse.” But more than just being about keeping things neat and tidy, there is actually a very good reason to put everything back in its right place. Rather than simply being a good way to keep the house tidy (trust me, your house can go south in a hurry), starting at square one with toys grouped together, carefully arranged and in set positions encourages your child to play with them.
There’s a whole big psychology around it dealing with how it stimulates some sort of thingy in your kids head and that once they see things properly organized it draws their attention to those things and creates an inescapable physical attraction to their toys. Sure. Here’s what I think. I think it is your child’s goal in life to destroy your mental wellbeing and one of the ways that they manage to accomplish this is by destroying anything that you’ve built. A perfectly reset play area offers your child the opportunity to punch you in the café, figuratively speaking.
So for about 8 months, every time that Vader went to sleep, nap or bedtime, I would take every block, every puzzle piece, every stuffie and every piece of plastic food and put them back where they belonged. It was not always my favourite thing to do, but I did notice that on days that I did it, Vader was happier and much more likely to play independently and if you want to know what heaven looks like, it’s a kid playing by themselves and now swallowing glass or punching kittens.
When Chewy came along, honestly I just didn’t have the time or energy to continue doing it. Also, the addition of a second child made it more likely that Vader would either play by himself or attempt to murder his sister. Win/Win. But if you’re currently trying to figure out how to buy yourself a little extra time when your beautiful snowflake is awake, take a few minutes when they’re unconscious and reset that play area.