Saturday, May 7, 2011

Adoption Option: Keeping A Toddler Busy

Toddlers.  I love mine. She can bring a smile to my face one minute, and make me want to fly the coop the next. She makes me so proud. I have really enjoyed being her mother.  But, let's tell the truth here. Toddlerhood, just as any stage of child rearing I'm sure, can be very challenging.  Add other children, or a baby to that, and things can become very tricky.  Toddlers are just busy. They love to be constantly occupied by something.  My toddler is almost a preschooler now, but we have come up with a lot of fun things to keep busy with that she really loves.

I have learned a lot of things being a mother. One of the biggest things I have learned is to balance my life.  I am not saying I have perfected the art, I am just saying that it needs to be done.  I have also learned that living a balanced life, at least for our family, does not mean having all our ducks in a row. It does not mean that all my housework is caught up, or that my children and I have spent the ideal amount of time together doing fun things, or that I have spent time doing something to help someone else, or that I always get exercise and eating right into my day.  Balancing life can be compared to a balancing act. One hand full of stuff may have to go up while the other must go down. Sometimes you have to throw a leg out there to catch things that have fallen. I have learned that's just the way life is when you have a family to take care of.  The perfectly clean house and beautifully manicured lawn can be left for those people who are retired.

These are some of the activities that my toddler loves to do. They help to keep her and us sane around here, and sometimes they can really be a lot of fun.

1.  Bubbles In The Sink.  This is my go to toddler activity when I have a lot of things I need to get done and I need her to be busy and happy for quite a while.  All we do is fill the sink about 1/2 way with warm water and squirt some dish soap into it while it is filling up.  Then just place a sturdy stool in front of the sink, throw in some bath toys and other fun kitchen utensils and there you have it. A half to one hour to get things done uninterrupted. Just be sure to place some towels around the edges of the sink, and be prepared to put a new set of clothes on her afterwards.

2.  Outdoor Activities.  Obviously children love to play outside. Heck, I love to play outside.  I think this is becoming a neglected activity in some families. Getting fresh air will make both you and your child a lot happier.

Going to the park is always fun, but if you have a newborn, it can be a little tricky to watch the baby and get your toddler down from the top of the "big slide" stairs because she had climbed them and then chickened out at the top.  So, having some play things outside in your yard, or in our case at this point, grandma's yard, will make things easier on you until going to the park is not so challenging.

Some other things we do with our toddler outside; fishing, swimming, going on a picnic, blowing bubbles, and throwing rocks and sticks into water.  Yesterday, my girls and I got a picnic lunch and went to a local pond to eat. Afterwards, we went down to the water and watched the ducks and geese, enjoyed the sun, and had a great time throwing rocks and sticks into the water.  This is a favorite of my daughter's and mine.  I also noticed a few other toddlers there throwing things into the water.  My daughter would probably do that all day if we let her.

3.  Let Your Toddler Cook With You.  Every time I start to make something in the kitchen my daughter asks me for the stool so she can help.  Sometimes it is fun and sometimes she makes things a lot harder than they need to be.  I like to let her help me though because first of all, it cuts down on the crying while I am making dinner and second, it's a great teaching time. I tell her everything I am doing and what the measurements are. I also let her pour a cup or a teaspoon of milk, flour, or vanilla into the mix.  We especially love to make muffins and pizza together.

4.  Music.  I believe music is important. It's also fun!  You don't have to be musically inclined to make music with your toddler.  My daughter's favorite instrument is the harmonica as you can see in this picture.  (Why is she wearing socks on her hands?  Our newborn baby was wearing socks on her hands to prevent face scratching and our daughter thought it would be cool to do the same thing.  Awesome, I know.)  We love to play the piano and sing songs.  Sometimes we just sing while she's taking a bath, or while we are doing other things around the house.  Action songs are perfect for a toddler.  Other times we get out the pretend microphone, and the toy keyboard and just go to town. Although we are not perfect, especially lately with the new baby, we try to make a little time for music every day.

5.  Let Your Toddler Help You Clean.  Whenever I am doing some housework, my daughter runs in to the room and yells, "Mommy, I help you!"  this is very cute, but coming up with things that she can do and be satisfied has taken time to figure out. 

Dusting is a great one. I got one of those swiffer dusters and she loves to take that and dust everything.

When I do laundry she likes to help me put a few of the things into the washer, pour the soap in and then pull the dial out to start it.  Then she helps push the clothes into the dryer, throws the dryer sheet in and then I lift her up to push start.  Yesterday, I forgot to let her push start and I did it instead. She was not happy with me. 

When I do the dishes, sometimes she throws the clean silverware into the drawer (then I have to arrange it), then after I load the dishwasher, she puts the little soap square in, shuts the lid, shuts the door, and pushes the green start button with two thumbs pressing as hard as she can. Then she jumps up and down and yells, "I did it, I did it!"  I hardly see more of a sense of accomplishment in her eyes then when she starts the dishwasher all my herself!

6.  Television.  While I don't believe that letting a child watch TV all day long is a good thing, I do let her watch a little every day usually while I am getting dressed. And sometimes, if I really just need a break.  Let's face it, sometimes you have to just give in and let them watch some cartoons. A little isn't going to hurt anything. Especially if it's something like Sesame Street. 

Time spent with your toddler, five or ten minutes here and there and sometimes an afternoon or a morning, will keep both you and your toddler happier. Realizing what balancing your life really means, and remembering that realization when times get tough, will minimize the times you have to throw your head back like Fred Costanza and scream "SERENITY NOW!"   

1 comment:

  1. Great post Julie - you have some really good ideas here. I never thought of the bubbles in the sink idea - good one! I remember those challenging days of coming up with things for the kids to do so they felt like they were helping - then they just quit asking...... then you have to come up with ways to get them to do the things you ask ;o).