[note that Augustine wanted the cars on the table to “watch” him color ūüėČ ]

My mom is a speech-language pathologist. Recently she was telling me that a helpful way to train my kids’ developmentally is to initiate new tasks with them (parent-led playing) and then continue on with my work! Kids will achieve more skills through being taught how to play with toys as opposed to the assumption that children know how to play intuitively on their own. Initially it takes longer for a child to understand new ways to play with toys, but if consistently taught, they will be able to achieve lots of helpful developmental skills on their own. For example, if you bring out pencils and stickers and tell them to color, it could be a mess. OR you could direct their play, (i.e. color the shirt green, and the trousers blue) enabling them to learn how to play with colors more independently (as well as developing the mental capacity to locate said colors in the bag of pencils), and allowing you to finish the dishes for a few minutes before bringing out the play-doh or next agenda of activity.

I’ll admit, I really didn’t know that kids needed to be taught how to play. I typically put a baby gate up in the living room for awhile and let them at it until I could get the bare necessities accomplished around the house or until the crying was too loud to ignore. I am not advocating that children cannot play by themselves on their own. However, I am claiming, it can be helpful for children to learn how to stretch their attention span through directed playing–and the best way to do this is to teach them how to play and interact with toys in your home. Plus, my kids like to know I am around and they enjoy my repeated physical touch and verbal affirmation (as they should!). If I start a game of puzzles with them, and then put in a load of laundry, I can come back and affirm their progress and re-direct their activity (with verbal encouragement and kisses as well as leading their play within the puzzles or start a new game) before starting another household task. This also helps to keep the toys more organized (as all the toys aren’t being brought out at once, but *hopefully* one category of toys at a time). I definitely have not mastered this concept in any stretch of the imagination, but we are working at it, and I think it is going well. Like I said, it is a lot at first, but totally worth it.

I think it is helpful to evaluate where you excel in your mothering and where you falter. We know if our car isn’t working to go to a mechanic to ask for his advice for a remedy. Similarly, we must be quick to see where our our lives need fixing and turn to Christ and ¬†His word and His church for sanctification (resolution!). It is always great to ask more experienced mothers you admire for their wisdom and discernment. And of course, there is no greater place to start than with your own mom!

Augustine is really laid-back and more introverted, but Jane is more observant and enjoys people. I’m learning I cannot parent Jane in the same way that I had learned to parent Augustine (and expect similar responses from them both on a daily basis). I’m really glad my mom was able to help discern some tactics (contemplating both my personality and their personalities) to meet them both at their own developmental level and help them to progress and have some fun! Mom also suggested purchasing some toys I enjoy, as children will thrive off my excitement. For example, I really like tea- so I am much more likely to enjoy teaching the kids imaginative play (and other skills) with a tea set than I am with a doctor’s kit.

Another wise thought (or two) she said that stuck with me:

-God gave these children to me, and He wants to help me. Ask Him for wisdom, He gives generously without reproach.

-Imagine if you knew that Augustine was going to be the next president. Wouldn’t you do everything you could to teach him all his numbers, letters, colors, and anything else you thought he could intake at this age? Sometimes mothers under-estimate the potential of their children, always strive for the best!

I’m not perfect, but I know someone who is! My mothering is constantly failing, but I am thankful for grace and the ability to try new ways to glorify the Lord in this worthy calling. I am grateful that I have daily opportunities to try new ways to create a joyful atmosphere in our home.

I also looked up these charts for the ages of my kids to help provide a general idea of what I should be doing with the children. Jane is 16 months, and a quick internet search provided this information for developmental milestones for ages 13-18 months.

Child’s Age

Mastered Skills (most kids can do)

Emerging Skills (half of kids can do)

Advanced Skills (a few kids can do)
13 months Uses two¬†wordsskillfully (e.g., “hi” and “bye”)
Bends over and picks up an object
Enjoys gazing at his reflection
Holds out arm or leg to help you dress him
Combines words and gestures to make needs known
Rolls a ball back and forth
14 months Eats with fingers
Empties containers of contents
Imitates others
Toddles well
Initiates games
Points to one body part when asked
Responds to instructions (e.g., “give me a kiss”)
Uses a spoon or fork
Matches lids with appropriate containers
Pushes and pulls toys while walking
15 months Plays with ball
Uses three wordsregularly
Walks backward
Scribbles with a crayon
Adopts “no” as his favorite word
“Helps”¬†around the house
Puts his fingers to his mouth and says “shhh
16 months Turns the pages of abook
Has temper tantrumswhen frustrated
Becomes attached to a soft toy or other object
Discovers the joy of climbing
Stacks three blocks
Uses spoon or fork
Learns the correct way to use common objects (e.g., the telephone)
Takes off one piece of clothing by himself
Gets finicky about food
Switches from two naps to one
17 months Uses six wordsregularly
Enjoys pretend games
Likes riding toys
Feeds doll
Speaks more clearly
Throws a ball underhand
Dances to music
Sorts toys by color, shape, or size
Kicks ball forward
18 months Will¬†“read” board books¬†on his own
Scribbles well
Strings two words together inphrases
Brushes teeth with help
Stacks four blocks
Throws a ball overhand
Takes toys apart and puts them back together
Shows signs of toilet training readiness

Augustine turned 3 at the end of July. The chart I quickly located for his age was quite lengthy to reproduce in this post, but here is an idea of where he should be regarding his language development:

3- to 4-Year-Old Development: Language Milestones

If your child is not very talkative, that will likely change soon. At  3 to 4 years old, your child should be able to:

  • Say his or her name and age
  • Speak 250 to 500 words
  • Answer simple questions
  • Speak in sentences of five to six words, and speak in complete sentences by age 4
  • Speak clearly
  • Tell stories

I could write more, but I’ll conclude it here. I think most of this is more journal-ish based, but I made it public as I also want to encourage moms to find wisdom in the areas of mothering where you are not succeeding. I know there are several key areas I still need major growth in- but thankfully the resources are not lacking! Just like we all have to learn how to cook, a person can perfect their skills for their recipients’ enjoyment and satisfaction or refuse instruction resulting in a distasteful or boring presentation. Likewise, our children are only going to thank us for actively learning how to parent them effectively with excitement and zeal (as opposed to cheating them of our good by ignoring the aspects of our mothering which may need some help).

Feel free to lovingly encourage me in the comment section should you have a suggestion or piece of advice that has worked for you to keep up with the housework while also keeping up with the kids. Thanks for taking the time to read!