Improving Your Routine For Littles with Najah Syed

Need some children routine inspiration? In this episode of the Routine and Things Podcast, I chat with Najah Syed, a play at home mom of two boys and nanny who is passionate about education through play. She shares her secrets to engaging children in learning that is enjoyable for everyone involved. And best of all, the funnest activities can start with something as simple as a book. Tune into this episode to learn some amazing tips to help with your routine for littles. Tune in now!
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Ashley Brown 0:00
Need some children routine inspiration? In this episode of the routine and things podcast I chat with Najah Syed is a play at home mom of two boys and nanny who is super passionate about education through play and reading. She shares her secrets to engaging children and learning that is enjoyable for everyone involved. And best of all, the funnest activities can start with something as simple as a book. Tune into today's episode to learn some amazing tips to help you with your routine for littles.

Najah Syed 0:51
Hey, Hey, welcome back for another episode. I'm super excited about today's episode because we're diving into improving your routine for littles. And this is specifically around little children. I know I have littles at home, my girls are almost two and four. And I'm like, dang, where has time gone. And then just two and four so I don't know how I'm gonna feel when they become older and teenagers Get out of my house, I'm not even going there, because I'll start crying. But yes, I'm super excited about this chat today with a Najah Syed because she is sharing what she knows she's helping us to discover ways of educating our children and playing with them as well. And she has some really fantastic tips for you today. And not just for you, for me, too. I learned a lot from talking with her. And she gave me a lot of things to think about. And it was just a super wonderful conversation. So Najah Syed is a play at home mom, I love that play at home mom of two little boys and nanny who's passionate about education through reading and play. Her son's diagnosis of autism fueled her to create a blog in social space for parents and educators to get fun learning ideas that are affordable and easy for all children to enjoy. Her blog, this home of mine is a collection of at home play based learning ideas that anyone can do to help cultivate parent and child relationships, and foster a love for learning for littles within the walls of your own home. She always share so many fantastic play ideas and learning activities. And so I was so excited to be able to chat with her. And I think that you're absolutely going to love our conversation. I will say that in the background. You may hear her child from time to time, but this is such an important conversation to have. So just tune in to what she's saying. And I believe that you're gonna get a lot from today. So let's go ahead and get into the conversation that I had with Najah Syed about improving your routine for littles. Hey Najah. Thank you so much for being here. So to just get us started. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and what you do.

Najah Syed 3:27
Yeah, absolutely. So hi, my name is Najah. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. And I'm a mom of two boys when is three years old. My youngest is one. And what I do, I'm a nanny, currently private nanny for a couple of families in my community. I did work previously as a lead preschool teacher for the twos and threes age group. And then I also Aside from that, vlog on the side, providing practical ideas affordable play ideas for parents and caregivers on Instagram and my blog.

Ashley Brown 4:05
I love it. So I definitely follow Najah. And she always gives out so many awesome play ideas and activities. And that's why I had to have her come and talk with us because I just feel like she is such an inspiration for me. I've done so many things that she has put up. And so I want her to share like how we can get ourselves together in terms of creative ideas for our toddlers, our preschoolers our littles so that we can make things fun and, you know, have some orders and things for our children to do which can really help them, right.

Najah Syed 4:44
Right. Absolutely.

Ashley Brown 4:45
So I do have a question for you. Najah are you really creative? Are you? Do you consider yourself a creative person?

Najah Syed 4:53
I do actually extremely creative and that's where I feel like I'm this is Like the perfect profession for me, because I can easily slip into my imaginary world imaginary land, come up with things like that. Other things like finances, that's why I listen to you actually need to get my finances in order cleaning my house, but playing with kids comes pretty easy.

Ashley Brown 5:19
Oh, that's awesome. That's, that's so interesting because it's the opposite for me, me getting into the realm of playing with the kid, even though I can play with my daughters, and it's perfectly fine. But when I try to play with other people's kids, it's a bit awkward. I remember I took a test when I was younger, that showed you like what you should do and maybe what you should do like steer away from and it said, Do not be a babysitter. And I was like, oh my gosh. And I'm a nurse. So when I was going through nursing school, I knew when I when I got to my pediatric rotation, I was like, heck, No, I am not working with kids like this is not gonna happen. So it's very interesting. I love people when they can be like when they're just so perfect for children. It is so adorable. And I think that it is a magical to be perfectly honest. I will just I know you're going to get into like sharing some really practical ways that we can enter in activities with our kids. But how like, which activities do you really really enjoy doing with your your children? I know you have boys.

Najah Syed 6:30
I do have boys. Yeah, I really like sensory play. And I feel like that's the one that I've been doing the longest, since my oldest was a baby. And for those who don't know anything about like our story and our family, my oldest son was diagnosed with autism last summer. And before we even knew about autism or anything about that we did like little play activities. Because I was a stay at home mom at the time, I was bored. And I just needed something to do. So I found out about sensory bins on Pinterest. And so I'm like, okay, oatmeal, a couple of boys like I can do that. And the more we started doing it, I realized how much it helped him. With him being autistic, he has some sensory avoidances. And he gets complimented all the time on how he's able to tolerate certain sensory inputs, because of all of the sensory play that he's doing and currently does up until now. So I feel like that's what I gravitate the most to even with like any kids that I watch, I'm like let's do, let's get our hands on something. Because there's something about kids getting their hands involved in things it like makes a connection in their brain where their hands are touching it, they're seeing it, it's a lot of sensory better no other way to put it's just a lot of all encompassing learning. And I think that's the cool thing about so that's what I'm saying like they're easy to really affordable.

Ashley Brown 7:53
Yeah, I've I've done a couple sensory bands, and they were really fun. And my daughter's really, really love it. They really love the sensory bins. And many times you have the items and supplies in your home, which is really, really great. So I don't know, I just feel like it could be someone listening today who feels like, well, this can get really expensive with their children, because we know it's a whole bunch of things children can do like toys is saying playdough is all of those things. Yeah. But what are some ways that you are like, financially or fiscally when it comes to activities, which are kids?

Unknown Speaker 8:35
Yeah, and see, that's a love hate relationship with Instagram, and Pinterest comes with because you see all these ideas, and you think that you need all the things to make it work with doing learning stuff with your kids. In fact, we've all had this experience Christmas, just, you know, came and went and I'm sure most of our kids played with the boxes and the packaging versus actual toys. So the thing I love about kids is that they're so simple. They don't have any concept of this cost this much. This cost no more than another child. And for me, I try to use things from my home because when I first started all of this, we were on a single income my husband was the only one working at the time. Um, so we didn't have a lot to put towards things that you know, honestly, he was just gonna mess up and break down and I was gonna have to throw it away. So I had to get really creative and finding ways I used boxes, tissue paper rolls on construction paper tape. This is a lot of bare bones, necessities that I think you can have in stock, mostly craft supplies that can go to lots of different things. I'm also a big fan of using your environment, using the things around you instead of being so materialistic about it and going to the park. Looking at the things around you there, go into the grocery store, you know, explaining talking, it's play activities. For me, it's more about building Parent Child relationships, versus pre academic skills. Because between a the ages of two and five, it's not the most necessary thing for them to learn their ABCs and one, two threes. Like, it's nice. But the most important thing is to build relationship with your child for learning. You know, kids, I watch a five year old who's almost six, she always tells me like, I don't like school, I don't like school. And I think it's because she feels all this pressure. And she's given four books. And she's, you know, made to sit down and do all this stuff when really, at two and five imaginary plays just as effective as work. So you don't need a ton of stuff to make things effective and long lasting, you want the longevity of learning more than getting all the things to make it look really cute, for instance. So I've used Instagram, Instagram, I think Isaiah was like, stacking boxes, and I use like, boxes that we had from our grocery order, and I'm using these you're gonna stack these up, and he had a blast. Like they were way better than any blocks I could have bought. And he had so much fun knocking them down and stacking them back up. And that's just the magic of play for kids. This is really awesome that they can easily do that.

Ashley Brown 11:18
Yes. Oh, I love I love everything that you just said, is so true. I know, my girls, especially my youngest, she you will get her something and then she's over there playing with the recycling. And I'm like, okay, sweetie. And it's so fun for her. I'm like, Okay, well have a blast, and i have to stand up and say have a blast with it then. So that is so true. You don't have to spend so much money or try to make your activities look like what you see on Instagram. And

Najah Syed 11:53
Oh yeah, for sure.

Ashley Brown 11:54
You know, sometimes we can get caught up in that. So let's move on to some practical tips that maybe you have for us when it comes to building a, you know, a routine where we do have a lot of creative activities we can do with our kids.

Najah Syed 12:11
Yeah, um, so I always and this is what I've learned as a preschool teacher, I had about 10 to 13 kids. And as you know, with teachers, your budget is not big, they give you a certain amount, and you got to make it work. So what I used was books, we had a really good library. And I also use the library when I was just doing things with my oldest son. Find a book that has a really specific theme. I like to use the farm theme when I explain this because it just makes, you know, learning reading easier. But say if the book is about farm animals or life on the farm, you want to take the specific book and grasp anything that you can out of it, and see what you can pull from it to reinforce that learning. So you have a physical reference material book, where they can look at it, see the pictures, then you take it out and do a sensory play, maybe you can do I think I've done before with the farm thing was like a popcorn then where you take popcorn seeds, little animal figurines. If you have toys like hard plastic toys that can work. Like if you have a barn set it in there, give them some scoops and they can scoot around, pretend like the little cow is you know, walking around the farm. He could take that idea from it. I think I even did one with Isaiah where I like tore up a bunch of blank paper and have him count cow spot just on white paper. And it's just like pasting paper onto another piece of paper. But it really was fun for him to take those cow spots and transfer them onto another paper. So guess what you have around you. I would also see if you can even get in touch with like local farmers go to a farmers market. This is how vegetables grow like things like that to make it really awesome. From this one book, you can really pull out ideas, affordable ideas that can help your child learn, you know, physically through a book you're creative play are to really make a learning idea last for them and they're like oh now when I think of you know vegetables at the grocery store, I'm thinking of farm they grow from the ground and it makes sense to them that they have all these ideas coming in at once. So that's how I like to do it usually starting from a book. Usually you can use your library or books that you have. thrift stores are also a great idea. If you need cheap books they have like 50 cent books or dollar books and grab a bunch of those and see what you can pull out from it that can help your child learn about that specific idea.

Ashley Brown 14:41
That is such a creative way to think about it because we have a million books. We have so girl we have so many books from we have even bought I feel like we bought like five but we have a whole bunch of books so which is a good thing, but I've never thought to expand upon the book right outside of the book of what can you do that still sticks with that theme, but can help them learn in a different way. And you gave us, you gave us some really good things to think about in terms of what you activities you can do at home. But then activities, you can also how you can take outside of the home and say, well, that is so beautiful. Do you do? Like, let's talk about this because we're in the time of the pandemic, right. And things are crazy, right? I don't even say crazy. Let me not use that terminology. But it's just different. So do you do any activities still outside of the home?

Najah Syed 15:43
You know, not as much we mostly because for me, I'm working now. Full time. If I do go out, it's usually a walk around our neighborhood or something of that nature, a local park or something like that. And my kids think it's Disneyland. They hardly go out these days. But um, yeah, I'm not even sure how libraries work anymore. Cuz I haven't been to them. Probably since the pandemic started. Yeah, it is hard to take kids places and figure out what will work for them as far as like outside of the home. But if you have a pretty decent neighborhood, I'm sure they will have a blast walking up and down the street. Looking at dandelions and things.

Ashley Brown 16:28
Yes, yes, sir. Yeah, yeah, we take our girls on walks frequently. And we always like pointing out the flowers, you know, I'll tell her at count the cars, little things like that. But yeah, we're not getting out that much, either, we took them to a park up the street, which nobody really goes to. So that's nice. But we try, we try not to do much. So it can be hard. But I feel like the ideas that you gave us can really work well in the home. And that can be a starting point, right, using a book and then expanding upon that book is so beatiful. Any other tips you have for us anything else you want to share that can help us with our, our activities for our kids?

Najah Syed 17:20
Um, I would say keep it simple. Like, I feel like that's the most important thing between the ages of two and five, their attention spans are not there. I want to do any more than 45 minutes for multiple kids, because I know at one point I had 202. And that was an experience. Utilize the youngest of your kids still nap. That's awesome, because you can and I got this advice from another mom on Instagram. Who told me you should alternate naps. So if one sleeping, use a one to one time that's really powerful to have parent and child connection one on one without their sibling, right there with them. utilize their naptime when one is asleep, work with one when they're asleep work with the other my son, my oldest son does not nap anymore. So I do utilize nap time for my youngest to work with him. And then also I do a lot of joint activities, something that they both can do and both be a part of. So I do recommend that if you have more than one child, do it together or alternate with naps. What's another one? I do have- Recently, we've started doing YouTube mute music time, like music class on YouTube. And I think it's a thing since the pandemic started. That's one of our favorite things to do. If you just need something to do. I do believe in screen time I think it's wonderful. and when used correctly could be a very powerful tool because those who are visual learners definitely get a really good benefit from watching something. And I do like really high quality things that they watch the music class, I also do a YouTube story time, I can give you the links that where you can get for the rest of the listeners because we love the story time that this one specific channel does and she has great books, great book ideas. And she reads so so nice its super soothing right before like nighttime and winding down, which is so soothing. And this chills my kids out. Okay, so we're like my favorite. online resources is the music class and story time and I haven't really thought about it until the pandemic started. But more online activities are screen activities that are quality. Those are super helpful and they've learned so many songs and stories from it. So-

Ashley Brown 19:40
okay, okay, that's that's nice to hear. I I am a proponent of screen time as well, because yeah, yeah, we need some screen time. So I try to do I try to do majority of educational TV like you said a high quality screen time. But of course, like my daughter's also watch the crazy like, what do you got on this TV? Like what is this about? We do that sometimes too. And my oldest is really into movies so we do.

Najah Syed 20:16
Oh, good. Yeah, I recently found out that it's not necessarily the screen time, but more so the content. And so I try to pick things that have real people real things. My kids like a candle gliffy I don't know if you've ever heard of the YouTube channel, Clippy. But as funny as he is for adults to watch, the kids just soak it up, they learn so many new words. And they get to go and see different experience. I think he goes to the aquarium zoo, he's going to really cool places that kids normally don't get to see in their community. So I advocate for stuff like that if you can put some high quality content on the TV, or there's their tablet or iPad, whatever they have for them to engage in and see just another part of life. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. And I think it's necessary for moms because I work too and could use a long break.

Ashley Brown 21:13
Yes, Yes, for sure. For sure. I totally, totally agree. Now those were some really awesome tips, especially I love when you say keep it simple. I always talk about keeping things simple. Around the board. If you can keep things simple, that is the best way for you to go for sure. Okay. All right. Well, I loved all of the things that you shared. Oh, one question that come to my mind before we wrap this up. I always struggle with this. I always try to pick up my girls ages one and three. And so I always struggle with activities that they can both do, can you can you briefly share some activities that that like children that are just a little bit different age can do together?

Najah Syed 21:54
Yes. So we have the same age group, as my kids are the same age painting, I do a lot of painting with them. Depending on how old your daughter is, she might be ready for playdough. And I experimented that with my youngest he did attempt but all you have to do really is just keep an eye on him or me him for you her. Keep an eye on them. And usually if they try to put it up to the mouth be like not eating. Just super simple. Don't make a big deal out of it. Because a lot of kids feed off a reaction, not for eating and keep going about you. And eventually He's like, okay, cool, not for eating I'm just gonna go for it. I'm playdough. I do a lot of painting. Usually at one that can do some dot stickers. If you peel off the backing, and just have the stickers exposed on the sound, they can just easily rip those off and stick them on lots of fine motor work for those two age groups. Because ones are just starting to use those pincer grasp more. And threes are usually really good at trying to hand eye coordinate and putting things on paper. So those are the three that I usually do, along with sensory things. Because who doesn't want to get messy, right? Bubble water bubble play. If you make more money, you can definitely do like water tables or just like if you have a big empty container, fill it with some soap and water, throw some bath toys in it. Let them have at it. And I promise you have a blast with anything water related. So I always like stuff like that.

Ashley Brown 23:23
Oh, those are some really good. Those are. That's like some really good advice there. We do a lot of painting too. Yeah. And they get messy and my husband's always like they're getting messy. I'm like and Okay, they're gonna get messy. It's okay, it is just fine. Right? And I try to stop myself because I can be you know, I'm recovering from perfection. So I try to stop myself and don't be like no, don't get I'm like no, Ashley let them be children. Let them be children.

Najah Syed 23:51
Definitely like put them in old clothes that you're not going to you know, be upset about I if you see my Instagram stories, I always have towels because we have an apartment with carpets, I have towels, the ugliest towels I have. Just throw them all over the place. And just let them have a ball. That's exactly what they need to get it, you know, get the learning involved. Oh, one more thing I wanted to share. There's a book that I've read that I feel like really changed my life as far as being a parent and trying to be a teacher as well. How to talk so little kids will listen is an excellent way if you're not sure how to engage with a child it on their level as far as like mindset is concerned, you really do have to tap into childlike ways to get them on the same page. reading that book really gave a lot of good tips for me on how to talk to just kids and get them engaged on how to do stuff like wash their hands transition from mealtimes to bedtime, how to get them engaged in an activity. It really is the way you present it. There's a thing in the Instagram community called invitation to plate. So you're setting out an invitation for them to do come and explore productivity table and get tinkering, get involved. And it looks really pleasing to the eye when kids see things unfinished and undone. So they can come and try to fix it or work with it, just leaving it out for them to do and not having any official prompts like, Okay, now we're going to sit, because usually that will not get a good response if we are forcing them to do something. But invitation plays are really awesome, because you're just having an out there. And they will probably nine times out of 10 gravitate towards things that looks really, really fun. And that's just and you can just come alongside of them and start talking about it, get them engaged, asking them questions, and they'll be interested. So I hope that help.

Ashley Brown 25:43
That helps so much. You are teaching me so much so much. I love it. Thank you. It's been absolutely great. So to wrap things up, always access question, which routine Are you either working to improve right now or currently loving?

Najah Syed 25:59
Okay, I have both. I don't know if that's allowed. But I'm loving. I'm working on skincare. And I'm also working on like, going to the gym and working out things like that. But I'm also loving self care, like in general, because I recently got a skincare routine going and I got products that works really well. I think that's the thing that I've neglected the most as far as like what to do that works for our budget as well as what to do for self care and, you know, personal development in that way. So started working on I went yesterday. And my skin looks really good. So far. I've been on a new skincare routine for like two weeks, and it's looking really nice.

Ashley Brown 26:41
Yes, it does. Yeah, I can't see her. But it looks her skin looks amazing.

Najah Syed 26:46
Thankyou so much.

Ashley Brown 26:50
Good. Yes, I love all of that. I love it all. Okay, Najah. I know that people are like, Where can I find more from this woman because she gave us such amazing advice and tips and suggestions. So where can we learn more from you?

Najah Syed 27:04
Okay, so I'm in two places right now Instagram, for sure. At this home of mine underscore. And on there, I usually post what we're doing for the weekend and things like that little ideas, tips and tricks for parents and caregivers. And then every week I do blog about what we do for the weekend as far as like weekend preschool and then other additional activities to do and that's at website. And those are the two places where you can find me.

Ashley Brown 27:36
Thank you. Thank you so much. Okay, so you heard or I will link the ways that you can find more from Najah in the show notes. So be sure to check her out. Go follow her on Instagram. And this was great. Najah, Thank you for being here sharing so much with us.

Najah Syed 27:52
Absolutely. It was so fun. Thank you so much for having me.

Ashley Brown 27:56
Wow, was that not such a beautiful conversation? She gave us so many lovely activities and play ideas. I love how she spoke about the simplicity of taking a book right starting with a book. And then expanding that into different learning activities and play ideas. I mean, that is something that I have started to incorporate what my girls because it is such a beautiful way it gives you that starting point. And then you can go anywhere from there so many different places. So I love that tip. And just that idea. Definitely a game changer. I would love to know what you thought about today's episode. definitely let me know that you're listening by tagging me on Instagram at routine and things. All you have to do take a screenshot of this episode, let me know that you're listening, let me know what you took away from today because I would love to hear and I know that Najah would love to hear what you took away as well.

Ashley Brown 28:56
Be sure to follow along with her @thishomeofmine on Instagram. Or you can go to her website, which is linked below. stay in contact with her because she has such amazing and beautiful clay and learning activities that will be really helpful for you this summer that would be really helpful for you just in terms of all year round. So just a very, very great source of inspiration. And she's such a beautiful person. If you know someone that would benefit from today's episode, be sure to share this with them and also write and review the show I would love for you to leave a review of what you enjoy about the routine and things podcasts because I love to hear how inspirational and impactful this is on your life. So I would greatly appreciate that. But until next time, continue to enjoy wherever you are, whatever you're doing, say happy girl and I'll talk to you next week.

Ashley Brown 29:53
Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed today's episode, take a screenshot and share it on social. I would love to know you're listening for tools to help you start, maintain and enjoy your routines. Be sure to head to Here's to staying happy.
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