This is how I handle not providing educational-opportunities-every-minute-of-the-day-Mom-Guilt
We do not often hit up museums or the zoo (maybe a few times a year), but I can guarantee we make a trip out super fun and educational in different ways. Grocery shopping (which I only do twice a month!) is all about getting to touch and hold new fruits and vegetables. I love how this makes different foods familiar to them and gets them excited to try new things or help me cook the food we bought together (this is a great way to persuade a picky eater)! They help put stuff in the cart, they like walking up and down aisles and gently touching the items arranged on the shelves.
The world is basically a “Please Touch Museum” for my kids and I take advantage of this. Also, I like taking these opportunities to have them learn about the world and how to behave in it. They are not running around like crazy people in public because we do not do ONLY kid-friendly activities all day long. If my kids ONLY participated in kid-friendly stuff, they would be confused when everything they touched was not brightly colored, made out of smash-proof plastic, and a snack wasn’t offered at some point.
I am not putting together pinterest boards of activities to do with my kids, but I am doing things I want to do with them. For example, on a hot summer day I will simply fill up large plastic bowls with water and grab different Tupperware bowls to pour and play with and put it all outside on the deck for the girls to play and splash in. I don’t have a baby pool or even a sprinkler for them to run through, but my girls think this is a hoot and everyone gets soaked. Moreover, it’s fun and I’m not stressed out about navigating a public pool (drowning risks) or splash park (keeping track of three little people). I am doing mama stuff that works for me and my kids have a great time too.
My latest favorite example happened after the twins were in bed last night and Esther asked, “Mama, do you want to cook and bake with me? I’m a good cooker! Let’s go downstairs and look at the recipes.” How freakin’ adorable is that?! She’s so used to the routine of getting her baby sisters to bed, then going downstairs to start dinner, she was taking charge! We put a chair at the island and she’ll put stuff in a pot or bowl and/or mix. She really likes being involved because all our kids want to do is spend time with us. My daughter helped me prep brussel sprouts, and then she was more inclined to taste them (she’s had them before, but didn’t like them, so I praised her for just giving them a taste). I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for us to be playing the most inventive and imaginative games. They just want our attention and I’m happy to give it to them (this Ikea video exhibits just this, and it gets me teary-eyed).