…tick, tick, tick, another hour passes by, another day passes by and before you know it, the weeks is done and dusted with a new one starting. Who else feels like time is passing by way too quickly and it difficult to keep up? You are certainly not alone.

One of the biggest challenges our celebrateplay community faces is finding the time in their daily schedule to create play experiences for our early learners amongst the other commitments life brings.

…so let’s talk about some systems and strategies that can help you to overcome this challenge.

1. SET ME UP NIGHTS// this involves having as much ready as you feel comfortable with for the next day eg. Clothes, uniforms, lunches, bags, hats, books and play. Setting the timer for 15mins to do a quick tidy of surfaces, loose items (see our dropbox idea) and setting up for play the next day.

2. PLAY PLANS// planning for play-whether you are an old school kinda gal like me and prefer pen and paper or a parent of the digital world with an an app to record ideas of play, this is sure to help create a play routine that saves you time. It is a place to jot down what activities you will set up, what system/s you will use (rotations, play based learning stations, daily activity tubs etc), what resources you need and where you can find resources. Whilst completing a plan like this takes time initially, once it has become a daily habit it will become second nature and take less time.

3. HOUSEWORK SCHEDULES// As lovely as it would be to play with our early learners all day long, it is not always possible due to the other jobs need doing within the home eg. cooking and cleaning. By creating systems that work for you such as meal planning, outsourcing meals, grocery deliveries, cleaner, laundry schedules, cleaning schedules, creating a space that fits your life, dropbox, you can make time for play. And when unforeseen things crop up as they tend to with young children, these systems help with finding time the time to catch up with less overwhelm.

4. ONE GO-TO PLAY ACTIVITY// Just before you head out, try to set up a quick, easy and fun activity (invitations to play work well) for your children to play with upon your return home. This will help to create a smooth transition and give you a chance to unpack any belongings before starting the next part of your day.

5. ONE GO-TO PLAY SPACE// By creating a fail proof play space eg. Kids table and chairs, floorspace or a corner of a room, you are going to save time when it comes to setting up for play as you know this space is going to work. The more familiar you and your early learners become with this space, the quicker play set up will be and the keener your little ones will be, wanting to play with it.

6. PLAY SYSTEMS// Alongside the play plan, our play systems are the crux of how we find time in a busy schedule to celebrate play. What we define as play systems are our toy rotation (place where toys are stored and used in a weekly rotation), Daily Activity Tubs (Independent activities for each child used during meal prep), Busy Bags (used when out and about), Play Based Learning Stations (how we set up play in the morning and afternoon routines) and a weekly theme (our learning focus), invitations to play (how an activity is presented to encourage play) and the physical layout (the way our play space is set up to create an inviting place to play).

7. BATCH RESOURCE COLLECTING// Sometimes time permits to collect a bunch of items ahead of time that are needed for play that day/week. Once collected try to store these in a central spot in the play space. This is likely to save you time from going back and forth and help get into play immediately. Being organised and prepared is key to avoiding disengagement.

8. PACKING AWAY ROUTINE// whilst singing, listening to music, ringing a bell or in silence. Breaking this task into bite size chunks is helpful and less frustrating and overwhelming for all parties-as children feel success by pleasing you or completing the task accordingly.

//TIP// Remember when starting anything new, its best to try ideas that you instinctively know are likely to work for you, your early learners and your space.