Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Keeping a Toddler Busy

"Mom....Mommy.....Momma.....hey Mom.....Mooommmm....Mommaaaa.....Mommmeeeeee!!!!"

If you're a mother, you know that sound oh so well! It's the constant call from your little one demanding your immediate attention, regardless of what your doing.  Phone call; forget it - they are more important! Bathroom; doesn't matter - they are coming in! Making dinner; who cares- let it burn! Visiting with friends or family; great, they can play too!  Asking them to play on their own can be like pulling teeth.  Here are a couple tips and activities that I have found to help keep my 3 year old busy.


1.  Play with them so they know how to play on their own. As important as everything else is; it can wait!  Trust me, I'm a type A personality, and I struggle with letting things go.  But, after spending just 15 or 20 minutes of UNDIVIDED time with your toddler, he/she will gain confidence in whatever you engaged in, and, in turn, will most likely want to play independently for a short while after.  Be a part of their world...see things from their perspective....act out a scene from a favorite Disney princess movie, play a game of memory, set up a bowling alley in the hallway, or race cars all over the house, and don't stop to do the dishes. 


2. Set a timer. Ok, so maybe we can't always stop in the middle of making dinner to act like Anna or Elsa.  But one trick that helps me out, from time-to-time, is using a timer. I pick her up, show her that I am setting the timer on the microwave or stove, and tell her I have to finish working in the kitchen, and when she hears the timer beep I will stop to play with her.  For her age, I don't set it for more than 10 minutes. 

On this day, she had went into her room, put on her dress-up clothes, found the dolls she wanted to play with, and came back.  But, what you can't see in the picture is the best....she didn't cross the threshold into the kitchen.  She set her dolls down, and said "Ok, Mom, we're waiting for the timer!".  How funny!

3.  Crafts and Activities. My daughter LOVES doing crafts. When I need just a few minutes longer to myself, I can bribe her with craft-time.  I tell her SHE needs to "get things ready for us to do a craft". To her, this means retrieving the materials we need - markers, crayons, paper, etc. 




For example, I told her we were going to make an "Animal Poster".  I gave her an old magazine, and told her to circle all the animals she could find. That gave me the few minutes that I needed to myself.  When she was done, I cut them out, and she glued them down onto the construction paper. 



If all else fails, give them a microphone.  What kid doesn't like to hear themselves?! Play their favorite music, and let them blurt it out!



Keeping a toddler busy is a challenge; no parent will deny it.  To survive this phase, teach them how to play, set boundaries and expectations, and find small tasks to keep them busy while building anticipation for more play time. 






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