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Fayette-Mom: Leaving the kids to their own devices

Posted August 9, 2010 9:18 p.m. EDT

Jennifer Joyner

This is our first summer with a school-aged child. We’re used to both kids being in preschool and going to preschool camp in the summer. But now, my 6-year-old rising first grader is too old for that. And at first, I was having trouble finding ways to keep her occupied.

Her brother resents the fact that Emma gets to stay home with me while he goes to preschool. I’ve assured Eli that we are not having that much fun without him. I simply drag Emma along to the mundane errands I have to run during the day: to the grocery store to buy supplies, to the bank, to pick up a prescription. By the time we get to Target, Emma is begging to go home!

Both of my children love to be at home. Rather than going on play dates or running errands with Mom, they prefer to stay here and use their imagination to invent games to act out. It’s been so fun for me to eavesdrop on their playing, listening to the situation they invent for their Star Wars figures and Barbies to endure.

I realize that every minute doesn’t have to be planned and activities can remain at a minimum. Left to their own devices, with me working in the den, they can entertain themselves in very inventive ways.

It warms my heart.

Jennifer is the mom of a five- and six-year-old. She gathers news for WRAL in Fayetteville and anchors two morning radio newscasts. Her food addiction memoir, "Designated Fat Girl," will come out Sept. 1 from Globe Pequot Press. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.