Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Real Coffee Break (+FOUR Freebies!)

I figured it out.  I found more time.

We all want more time!  But no one ever figures out how to get more time or how to maximize the time we have.  It's too hard.  We cram too much into the day.  We do too much. We want to do too much. We have to do too much.

Since my bestie just had baby #3 (remember I made this sprinkle bag for her?) I was trying to think of a gift for her.  Not just a gift, but a good gift. I really can't stand giving gifts just to give a gift; it has to be a good gift.  When we have so much to do, we all want more time.  And what mother has time for a coffee break?!  I've never met one!  So I made her a coffee break bag.  Everyone in the workplace (out of the home workplace, just to clarify & not step on any toes) gets a coffee break, and mothers of small children, of all people, deserve and have EARNED a coffee break.  So enters, the coffee break bag without guilt!!  A Real Coffee Break- Life with the Hawleys
Allow me to explain this brilliant idea (just play along & let me call myself brilliant; I don't get many chances for those kinds of labels).  There are many times throughout the day where you not only want a coffee break, but you NEED one quite honestly......a time out from what you've been doing.  A time to regroup or collect yourself before you say or do something you later regret or feel guilty about (I hope I'm not the only one here).  With little toddlers this happens on the reg, so the next time you are having one of these moments you just grab your prepared Coffee Break Bag. As I was making this for my bestie, I quickly realized that I needed to make 2 of everything, because I needed a bag for myself too lolDSC_0441
Inside this bag I have packed, with all the instructions and supplies needed, 14 activities that are SIMPLE, but will buy you a few minutes where mom (grandma, auntie, nanny, or dad) can grab a cup of coffee in peace. All of the activities are educational, reusable, & fun; none of them require scissors, glue, or a screen (let the angels sing over that one!). 

I keep my Coffee Break Bag hidden so that we don't play with these activities and they remain novel.  I save my Coffee Break Bag for that moment right before my brain teeters out of my skull onto the floor, & I tell my kids they get to pick a surprise game to play while mama goes to warm up her coffee.  They reach in, without looking, and pick a "game".  Then, once I've collected my brain off the floor with my caffeine, I rejoin the group & participate in the activity.  (Dramatic much, Darby??? Just a little). 

In all seriousness, dramatics aside, sometimes we just need a moment to collect ourselves, and this bag has helped me so much with a terrible 2 & a terrible 3 happening at the same time.  Some people call these activities "busy bags," but I'm not going to lie to myself.  This bag is clearly for a coffee break, but if you were going on a trip this would be fun to pack for the road (other road trip ideas).  I don't like to just throw something at my kids and say "mommy needs a break so do this" (if you say this line, I'm not judging you at all; do your thing mama.  I know you're doing what's right & best for you & your family. That line just fills me with guilt & anxiety so I avoid it at all cost). Instead, I want something to bring them an experience, a lesson, a skill, or some form of development.  I've found that having prepared items helps my kids AND my mama guilt.

Sooooooo let me share some of the activities I put in our Coffee Break Bags (Here are the labels I made, that you can print off---for FREE!!).  I made these labels, printed them in color on cardstock, & then laminated.  Each activity is individually packed in a ziplock bag with all of the materials needed & instructions.  Just to make sure that everything lasts and is reusable, each package was laminated.
Chain Counting- (Get FREE printable here) Using these links, ask your child to connect the links to the card with the corresponding number, e.g. card with the number 6 gets a chain made of 6 links, etc.DSC_0452
Color Clip Matching- (Get FREE printable here)  You could print off images, stickers from your child's favorite show, color stickers, shapes, even sight words, or letters/numbers.... basically anything you want.  I used these sticker dots to just stick on the cards and then I laminated them. Using clothes pins, my kids have to match the colors.  This is such an easy way to customize a task for your child where there is self correction but also usable for various age groups and levels of cognition.DSC_0453
Pipe Cleaner Shapes- (Get FREE printable here) Have your child make each shape on the card out of pipe cleaners.  This is an easy reusable task that will assist in learning shapes and fine motor skills.DSC_0460
Rubber Band Counting- With numbers written on each popsicle stick, the child has to slip the corresponding number of rubber bands onto the popsicle stick.  If your child is past the preschool age, use these sticks to talk about addition & subtraction.DSC_0447
Pom Pom Counting- Count out the number of pom poms for each number shown on the card.  As the child ages you can convert this into an addition/subtraction task.DSC_0448
Make a Bracelet- Thread different color beads onto a pipe cleaner until you make a bracelet or a necklace. Awesome for fine motor skills.DSC_0449
Face Drawing- The psychologist in me loves this task.  The child is asked to draw on the face, with a dry erase marker, the emotion that is velcroed onto the bottom of the card.  This leads to great conversations about emotions, the perception of emotions in others, & the correct way to conduct yourself when you are feeling a certain way.DSC_0450
Popsicle Matching- Match the popsicle with the same color popsicle stick.  A great tactile task to practice colors.DSC_0451
Felt Chain- Wrap the strips of felt & connect with velcro into a chain. Fun fine motor task.DSC_0454
Caterpillar Counting- To practice colors, number recognition, & counting, match the number of pom poms to the caterpillar cards.DSC_0456
Alphabet Connection- Using the plastic chain link, match the upper case letter to the lower case letter.  When your child can do that, then you can progress to spelling the child's name, and other sight words using multiple chain links.DSC_0457
Animal Rainbow- This is a great fine motor & sorting task.  You could ask your child to sort by color or animal.DSC_0458
Lacing- For fine motor development, ask your child to thread the string around the cards. We also like these DSC_0459
Chain Patterns- Using the chain links, create a chain to match the pattern on the card.  Then ask your child to make a pattern for you to copy.DSC_0461If you want to make this as a gift for a new mama, I also threw in some new slippers, a new coffee mug, & book (like she has time for that lol) about how much she means to me as a friend.DSC_0438 Do you have something like this?
What do you do for a "coffee break" in your home?
Please share your tips & tricks with me!!!!Hawley Homeschool
xoxo Darby

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