Monday, December 28, 2009

From Go to Slow

I have always been a person "on the go." I don't sit around and do nothing well. I like to be on the move. Part of the reason why I was attracted to territory sales when I worked outside of the home is that I was never in the same place for any amount of time. Go, go, go. This also holds true for my personal life.

I do like to relax, but even my "relaxation" includes expending some sort of energy. I love a good, hot bath, but I have to be reading a book while I soak. I would get bored just sitting there. I can rarely just sit back and watch a movie or t.v. show. I am usually on our laptop, folding laundry, or doing something. Pre-Will, my idea of a perfect Saturday or Sunday wasn't sitting around the house, but taking the dogs to our local "dog park," going to an outdoor market, or even browsing Target. Rarely, would you find me home for an entire day unless I was ill.

And now? Well, at first, I was intimidated by taking a newborn out. Will was unpredictable and I lived in fear of being stuck someplace and not being able to soothe him (as happened the first few times we did venture out). As he aged, however, he became more agreeable to errands and such and I found it was actually easier to entertain him out of the house than it it. Grocery stores, childrens' museums, the zoo, Target, library for storytime, bookstore to play with the train table, etc., we get out a lot. He seems to enjoy getting out as much as I do. We are still home for some of the day, and stick to a schedule for meals and naps, but we get out pretty much every day, even if it's just to a friend's house for a playdate.

Lately, however, I have a feeling this "on the go" mentality of mine might need to make a shift. First off, the always on the run feeling is not how I really want to feel. I hate rushing around constantly, and there really is no need for it. It is all self-imposed. In addition, Will has been pretty sick the past couple of weeks. He needs to be home, just to rest up and also to not be exposed to any more germs for awhile. Although I am careful and use hand sanitizer and still have a cloth cart cover, I am sure our recent bouts of illness and how much we got out to do holiday errands were no mere coincidence.

I have found that being home with Will for more than one day in a row can get. . . well, I will just say it. . . boring. I don't want to say that he is boring, but by day's end, we are both tired of the books, toys, and songs at our disposal. I really want to get better at this being home thing and with "Project As If" seemingly on track, I am going to need to get better at entertaining Will at home. I have visions of art projects, building forts, and baking together, but when I have tried those activities at this age, he quickly gets bored. He likes to eat the crayons more than color with them. He gets frustrated when he can't eat the raw dough when we try to make cookies.

We do all sorts of "structured" play throughout the day. I also let him play with his toys on his own while I get things done. We do flashcards, count, name colors, etc. We read, we sing, we dance, we play. Lather, rinse, repeat. Of course, we have nap, snacks, and meals to take up some time as well. Still, I find myself wondering at least once throughout the day, "What do we do next?" And coming up a bit short. I wouldn't care so much about myself being bored, but he seems bored, too.

What fun activities do you do with your toddler(s)? Will is 16 months, so things that are/were entertaining for that age would be especially helpful. I feel as if I need some fresh ideas and appreciate any that you want to share! Also, he has plenty of toys already, so I don't want to spend a lot of money on new things. I don't mind investing in certain craft supplies, however, so don't hesitate to mention a craft or project that works with kids at this age.

Here are some good links for ideas that I have tried already or am planning on trying. If you are also wondering "what to do" hopefully, these will help!

Mamapedia link

Disney FamilyFun link

Associated Content link (specifically, I want to make the jars they mention)

Okay, your turn!


HereWeGoAJen said...

Hmm, I don't know. I mainly keep organizing our house and Elizabeth de-organizes it. That keeps us both pretty busy. She likes to help me with chores. She got my duster out from under the sink the other day and dusted the living room tables. I was very impressed.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...honestly, when I'm home with Lemy I try to take her out as much as possible. Partly because I go stir crazy in the house and partly because she loves it outside. Often we will go outside and play on the front lawn or gather leaves and pines cones. She like to help with yard work and laundry as well and had been helping me go through baby clothed for Jasper. Indoors, we color and play with her dolls and she likes to cook with my pots and pans. We play a lot of chase and catch and she's a fan of watching and dancing to Yo Gabba Gabba.

We've not start art projects as I'm not sure I can handle that just yet. I may wait until she goes to preschool before I I start that. I definitely know how you feel though...I like to go out and be busy and I'm definitely scared that another baby is going to mean never leaving the house again.

Beth said...

It is hard to entertain a toddler, isn't it?

We do stickers - put them on shirts, arms, faces, and they take them off and move them around (this is a great church activity too!)

Could you do sensory stuff - like beans in a bucket of some sort? Toddlers like filling & dumping.

Will could also help you rearrange your tupperware, and clean. You could give him his own spray bottle (with water) and a rag. I tried to get my boys to help me with laundry, but they were more interested in figuring out how the dryer works -- that's boys for ya, right?

I have heard of (but not done yet) that you can color yogurt w/ food coloring, and let them "finger paint" in the bathtub - that way the finger paint can be eaten, and it's contained to one space, and sorta easy to wash....right? ;)

We like long walks, collecting leaves & rocks (found one in my dryer today, while drying a coat!), playing in the snow, sand, dirt & baby pool, all weather permitting. Bubbles (indoor or out) are always a big hit. Basically expending any sort of energy for these busy kiddos is great!

I'll be back - I'm looking forward to getting new ideas from other Moms. Thanks for posting!

Katie said...

Thanks, Ladies! Beth, those are some amazing ideas! Hope we get more!

Joy@WDDCH said...

Unstructured play is just as important as structured play- builds imagination.

Perhaps imagination play is something you could start thinking about. The dollar store has a ton of cheap dressup things, as do thrift stores. Or just good old Halloween costumes.

You do so much more than I do! But I like a lot of your ideas. I've been wondering what to do with Abigail (she's almost 3) with the new baby here. I can't always entertain her constantly.

GibsonTwins said...

I like to let my twins play with cheap shaving cream (think the barbasol stuff!) and I add a couple drops of food coloring and we just play for as long as it lasts on the dining room table (one that is not for keeps, per se).
Or sometimes we roll out blank newspaper across the same table and plaster it with letter stamps, shape stamps, use markers/crayons, half an apple dipped in paint, drops of paint and we blow out the paint with straws, and we are going to try out watercolors this week.

As for baking, mine are just over 3 and still not "there" yet. I find them to create more mess by "helping" clean up than any actual help so I tend to avoid involving them in that.

We are tv watchers as well. When the boredom gets to all of us, I let them watch WordWorld, Handy Manny, etc. That also serves as my half hour to shower.

Baths can take up a ton of time too with a toddler so you could just hold off on bath time until you need a long stretch of time passed.

Are you on one nap/day or two? That might change the dynamics of the routine also.

As for the go-go-go, with two kids, it's definitely a challenge. Least with two the same age. You may have better luck.

Red said...

Stickers are great at that age - Champ liked to stick them on colouring books while I colour (enjoyably), now he is a bit older he will colour in for a while before resorting to stickers. Twist crayons help with the 'eating' the crayon problem.

Library visits and then reading. Champ loves to read a book over and over, but I get bored of it after the 50th time, so the library helps me with the boredom bit.

On the same note, toy libraries - do they have them overseas or is that an Australian thing?

We also rotate toys, so I box up about half his toys and he plays with the other half for a couple of weeks. By the time we swap boxes the toys are like new to him and he has a ball taking them all out of the box and exclaiming over everyone.

Our best bet though is outdoors. You just can't beat the park on a nice day.

Good luck, I totally get the boredom bit. Just cos you love them to bits doesn't mean you have a mind like a goldfish.

Mazzy said...

Wow. Just reading the comments from all your other readers made my head spin. I have to be honest, I think being a stay at home mom is boring. Sigh, I know I'll get a lot of rotten tomatoes thrown at me for saying it out loud. I am STRUGGLING with this big time right now. I have spent so much of my adult life fighting for a career and busting my tail to be respected in my (VERY male dominated) industry. I love being with my baby and I am so thankful that we have been financially able for me to stay home with her full time while I work part time from home (which, let's be honest, is me struggling to juggle phone calls and emails while rushing to grab her up from hurting herself or eating the dog food just in the nick of time). I read to her and "play" with her and her toys and explain things to her and we do go out and socialize, but I feel like a massive failure at the whole mom thing to be honest! I often wonder if I am missing some huge learning opportunity with her every day. She is only 10 months old, I suppose I shouldn't be so hard on myself?

Thank God for Nick, Jr. and 2 naps a day. (for now, at least)

You are an awesome mother. Will and #2 are lucky, blessed and supremely fortunate babies. I admire you so much!

Anonymous said...

My kids have always loved singing and dancing around the house to some music... and I will usually choose something I want to listen to, as well :) Also, with my boys especially, they love getting outside and just running! We are spoiled by our fenced in backyard because I can take a book out with me and know that the kids can't wander too far off... and a little dirt (even when ingested, oops) never hurt anyone too much! Ha! Blocks are also great... it won't be too long before he'd like Lego Duplos I bet... but until then cans, boxes, and plastic bowls from the kitchen work just as well! He's also probably love playing catch.

Oh and as a mom who gets the whole stir crazy thing, I recommend finding a double stroller you LOVE! Daily walks when you aren't feeling like going "in public" with 2 kids under two have been a sanity-saver for me some days! My double stroller is one of my prized possessions for this very reason.

Nicky said...

I go absolutely stir crazy when it's just me and LL in the house. The key for me is getting out of the house every single day, but that doesn't mean you're "on the go" necessarily. We play in the yard or walk to the park. LL is much better at entertaining himself when he's outside, so a slow walk followed by trailing after him at a park is very relaxing for me, but it can entertain him for hours. If he's not entertained, we switch parks for a few days.

We do NO "structured play" at all, so I don't have any suggestions there. Some of the ideas up above sound like fun, though.

Tracy said...

I do a lot of what you do, and yes, it does get boring. I agree with the other comments that toddlers need unstructured play, so even though Evan and Rowan protest at first, they eventually go on to play on their own...sometimes for up to 45-60 minutes at a time...if I leave them be. I also like to change up the rooms we're spending time in. We alternate between the family room and the playroom. I also find that if they are getting bored, a snack will give them the break they need. Sometimes I think it's more that they need a rest rather than it's boredom.

I let the kids help me pick up, too. We also do color; while they do try to eat the crayons, they are getting better every time I get out the crayons.

Today I let them play in the bathtub with their toys...they enjoyed that. (no water.) We also have the finger paints and bath foam for the tub, and have only used them during bathtime at night, but they are fun.

I have some recipes for edible clay if you want me to share. It sounds like that might be something that Will enjoys.

I read somewhere that toddlers need to learn to amuse themselves, so I try not to occupy their time all day.

I know you aren't a pro-TV mom, but we do watch 20 minutes of TV here and there throughout the day. I keep it age appropriate - Yo Gabba Gabba or Blues Clues, and watch it with them, but I think they've gained a lot from that. We watch no more than 3 programs, and again, it's not all at one sitting but only 20 minutes at a time. But that's just us. :)

Tracy said...

Oh, I forgot to mention, something else we've had success with is separating out their toys into bins. I give them one bin per week, and then the next week or so I rotate it. That way they don't seem to get bored with any of their toys. We've also held back some of their birthday and Christmas gifts and introduce a "new" toy every once in awhile. That has helped ALL of us and has kept the house less cluttered. :)

Stacy Woodruff said...

I found a book in goodwill the other day called "Games to Play With Two Year Olds" by Jackie Silberg. It was filled with ideas of simple things to do with little ones. I went ahead and bought it even though my boy is only 4.5 mo. As it turns out, it is a series of books, including one for babies, and one for toddlers (12-24 mo) by the same author. I am probably going to get them as they're only a couple dollars each on amazon if you buy them used. Here's the link to the toddler one for you -