Friday, 8 October 2010

Things to do with a young toddler - out and about...

So you have a young toddler... the weather is closing in and you are beginning to feel like hibernating... a whole day indoors and your home becomes a wreck as a whirling dervish of a toddler creates mayhem, just out of boredom.  Toddlers need activity and stimulation.  

So what can you do with them to get out of the house?  We try to get out of the house at least once every day, even if only for an hour or two.  In the morning we go swimming or shopping or to a class or on a trip, either before the morning nap (he sleeps in the car on the way) or straight after it.  In the afternoon we have a longer nap and then walk the dog and sometimes do a bit of grocery shopping before getting dinner ready.  Here are some ideas:

1.     Swimming - we go once a week.  You don't have to pay for an expensive class, just go and have fun with your toddler in the water and build up their confidence.

2.  Library - here in the UK libraries are great places for little ones.  As well as allowing you to borrow a good selection of books for your children, many also offer "story sacks" to borrow and run free rhyme time or story time sessions for little ones.  some also have a selection of toys and some cushions for playing or a story.

A trip on the Fairbourne railway in Wales

3.     Baby and toddler groups - I know some people who go to one of these every day of the week!  We just go to our local one and it's a really nice opportunity to chat to other mums (and dads, childminders, nannies or whoever it is that brings the kiddies), while the children learn to socialise with other tots and have a wide range of toys to play with.  Most are very inexpensive and include a coffee or tea for the adults and a snack and drink for the toddlers.

4.      Other groups and classes - there are so many groups and classes that you could sign up to.  We go to a free "Simple Scottish Dance for Tiny Tots" but also available are toddler gymnastics, baby yoga, baby swimming, baby signing, baby music classes, baby dance and many, many more.  If you feel the need for a bit of adult company every day and don't know many people, then this might be a good thing.  Otherwise you could spend an awful lot of money.  Perhaps limit yourself to one class and spend more time getting to know mums locally in less expensive ways.  You don't want to over-schedule yourselves either.  Maybe three scheduled or regular activities each week and leave the rest of the time to potter about, visit friends and do other things.

5.     Visit friends - especially other friends with young children.  The children will play, you can chat.  Take it in turns to host and then only one of you has to clear up afterwards.  Sometimes being a mum with only a young toddler at home to chat to can be a lonely existence and a network of friends who you can call on when you need to chat or need a change of scenery can be a lifesaver.

Feeding the goats at the safari park
     6.     Go on trips - Make a list of local attractions and places to visit from safari parks and zoos, botanic gardens, castles and stately homes, to beautiful parks, museums, art galleries, ponds with ducks to feed, the railway station to watch the trains, soft-play centres, towns and cities for shopping etc.  Now whenever you have a free day ahead with your little one with nothing planned, choose something from your list and go and do it.  A complete change of scene will give your toddler lots to look at, and you will both learn something and enjoy yourselves.

7.     Playparks, picnics, local walks.  Throw on a pair of wellies and a splash suit (that's for the little one, not for you!) and head for the local woods or park.  Even if it isn't raining, at this time of year things are damp and muddy and the splash suit and wellies mean that you don't need to worry about wet and dirty clothes and can just let your toddler explore.  I'm gutted I didn't take my camera last weekend as little C. tramped around the park in Crieff paddling in puddles, picking up sticks, leaves and pine cones and just enjoying exploring the outdoor space.


  1. hi there.

    good list. since leaving UK, i SO miss libraries. and now that i have a toddler, i REALLY miss them, and parks, toddler groups, and such.

    we are lucky to have wonderful nature to explore. but rainy days are indoors mostly. not sure what we'll do in another couple of years when she's older though.

  2. Oh, definitely get out there and enjoy the rain! It might mean that your trip is shorter as you don't want them to get cold - but what is there to beat raindrops dripping off your nose and splashing in puddles, and then the cosy feeling of getting home and having a hot chocolate and a bath while your clothes steam on the radiator! I'm not sure how I'll manage next autumn, as my toddler will be ready to romp, but I'll also have baby number 2, who won't yet be on their feet... I'll wait and see.