Do you remember the fairytale, The Shoemaker and the Elves? Every night the shoemaker and his wife set out their raw materials, and every morning they woke to find the most beautifully crafted shoes. Everything about the shoes exhibited great care and skill. It was always a welcome pleasure for the shoemaker and his wife to behold the shoes and marvel at the exquisite details. Often the wife would make a pot of tea and warm some biscuits, and the elderly couple would have their breakfast while examining the fine workmanship. Many times the morning was nary over before the shoemaker and his wife emerged from their workshop, whistling a tune, or trailing on about comfort and stitching.
Here’s a strategy for parents: if you want to sleep in on a Saturday mornings, stay up Friday night and be the elves. Arrange your child’s favorite activity-toys on the living room floor. Use exceeding detail. Think in terms of a village or town and spread things out. Children react with more surprise toward large scale display. If playing with Matchbox cars, for example, is one of your child’s favorite activities, then gather all the cars (maybe add a few new ones!) and space them out to simulate travel along a road coming into town. Start in the kitchen or nearby room. Make a tunnel with paperback books. Use blocks or dominoes to make parking lots and park a few cars in each of the lots. Use blocks or Legos, or whatever you have on hand, to make some buildings in the village. Cut out a pond using blue construction paper and place it at the edge of town. Use peanut shells for boats; fill them with Play-Doh and insert a tooth pick with an attached triangle cut-out for the sail. Use Fisher-Price Little People or paper cut-outs to populate the town.
Make sure, when it’s all said and done, that you leave something for your child to do! You might want to place a pile of “rubble”—blocks, dominoes or whatever—near one of the buildings. Or leave one or two of the buildings unfinished. For a little added insurance make a house friendly sand-box, also on the edge of town. To do this, place different size cups on a baking sheet. Fill one of the cups with sand and leave some measuring spoons next to it. Spread a little sand around the baking sheet so your child gets the idea. Lastly, leave one or two granola bars on a napkin, in plain sight, just so you cover all the bases. Of course if your child’s favorite activity is playing with dolls, for example, then change the theme to correspond with dolls. As a rule of thumb, unless you are supremely talented at this sort of thing, figure on a one to one ratio for results. In other words, for each hour you spend as an elf, you can expect one extra hour of uninterrupted sleep the next morning. Good luck sleeping in!
Go to subscription details for subscriber information.