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How Lazy Parenting Can Make Your Kids Smarter This Winter

Congratulations! You've made it through another week of COVID19 and you haven't gone off the deep edge of the wading pool yet. But what about winter being right around the corner? Does that thought cause any nightmares of crabby, couped up kids, and/or tense overwhelmed parents? If so, you're not the only parent who's worried.

But maybe you don't need to be concerned after all. Let me help you relax.

After logging in at least 75,000 hours providing face to face care for very young children (0-8) and working directly with over 8,000 children over a 43 year carreer, I know what their irreducible needs are.

Children learn on their own given the right environment and opportunities. That makes my job busy and pretty stressful when things happen all at once, but very rewarding at the same time, when I see what little humans are capable of.

Here are some ideas for child-directed multi-sensory activities. These are things I'd be setting up if I didn't have family health issues preventing me from doing hands-on care. Activities that encourage kids to become fascinated and immersed in learning.

These things can free you up and make you smile. Just remember to give children the least amount of help they need to pull it off successfully. This is the kind of hands-free or "lazy" parenting that this country needs more of because it produces motivated and self-directed adults.


family puzzle set up on a table

plays, musicals, and dance shows

cleaning dirty toys in a dishpan with old toothbrushes and soap

cooking or preparing meals or snacks including clean-up

USSR (20 minutes each day of Uninterrupted, Screen-Free, Silent, Reading during which the entire household participates)

Rock art studio see photo

I hope these ideas will help you to cope with what's ahead of us with a little bit less stress. To deal with my own mental health concerns, I've challenged myself to walk all over Madison, WI to discover and provide the types of multi-sensory and emotional experiences kids need today.

Instead of business cards, I'm giving people samples of my art rocks with a qr code that can lead to them to create and distribute their own. So if you see me walking around with my "rock art purse" ask me for a rock. You won't be sorry!

If you live anywhere near Madison WI, you might want to keep your eyes and ears open for information about a live, socially distanced family dance event coming soon to Vilas Park! Keep in touch about this event and more to come by joining our community here! You'll get an all-access pass to my website designed to be a virtual playground for parents and providers of young children!

Nanci J Bradley, MA human development, is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI

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