Thursday, 14 October 2010

Things to do with a young toddler - indoors

Following on from my post the other day about things to do with your toddler out and about, here are some ideas of things to do indoors.  I see the question posted up quite often on the parenting forum that I'm a member of, usually from mums who usually work and are spending a week of holiday with their little one, and can't fathom how to keep them occupied all day long... are a few ideas (in fact I have so many that I'm going to split this post in half and put the rest on next time):

  • Sleep - don't underestimate the power of regular scheduled nap times.  A well rested toddler is much more likely to settle to an activity, much less likely to moan and groan and demand and fuss, and much less likely to whirl around the house like a hyperactive poltergeist.  Somewhere between 12 and 18 months toddlers will drop their morning nap, but nearly all will be sleeping for at least an hour in the early afternoon.
  • Eating - allow plenty of time to feed and clean up a toddler and make meal times as relaxing as possible.  Little tummies empty quite quickly, so as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner, you'll want to offer snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon (once they get up from their nap is a good time).  Include them in the meal preparation if possible, get them to sit down to eat and drink and at least at meal times, sit down to eat with them at a table.
  • Cooking – I'm planning to come back to this one in a future post, but I have a mini-stepladder which Little C climbs up while I'm cooking.  I stand behind him so he won't fall and I keep sharp knives and hot things well clear.  He gets to help with any mixing, sorting, shaking etc. and in the meantime have a good look, smell and feel of the food we are preparing.
  • Housework – This may sound odd, many mums are wondering how to get the housework done when they have a toddler following them around all day, but I've found that giving Little C a small dustpan and brush, duster, broom etc. and encouraging him to "help" I actually get things done.  Granted, sometimes it takes a lot longer to clean the windows when he is helping, but at least I'm getting it done, and giving him some good training for the future into the bargain!
  • Baking – Much like cooking but as I am not aiming for a particular meal I am in less hurry, so he gets to play with the food and utensils more.  I sit him in his high-chair and we work at the kitchen table.
  • Painting – We started off doing our painting on the kitchen floor with big sheets of paper, but have also tried the kitchen table and have recently bought an easel.  Regardless of how you do it, there will be mess.  Little C either tries to eat the paint, or decides halfway through that he needs a cuddle instantly - with paintbrush in hand, or wanders off and if the kitchen door is left open there could be paint anywhere!  I don't expect this activity to last for long, he wears a long sleeved apron over his vest (or just a nappy), and I wear something that I don't mind getting paint on which is due a wash.  Everything is ready so that as soon as he gets bored we can move him straight into the bath.
  • Pottering in the garden – I love this activity and so does Little C.  We dress for the weather, so he is either naked or in splash suit and wellies, and occasionally something in between.  First I make sure I have cleared up any dog mess, then I get on with whatever job I am doing in the garden and Little C potters about splashing in buckets of water, playing with soil and mud, moving around my plant labels, pulling flowers off plants and so on while I keep one eye on what I am doing and one eye on him to make sure he isn't eating anything I don't think he should.  I do bring a couple of his toys out as well, but mostly he prefers to play with the garden.

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