Your child’s toddler years officially last between the ages of 1 and 3. As the mother of two primary school-aged boys, believe me when I say that those few short years are precious and will soon whizz by.
Mother’s little helper
I can remember all too well the times when having a little person who was into absolutely everything at home could make life feel pretty hectic. Especially, when your tot is a Mother’s Little Helper or an independent “Me do” kind of kid. As frustrating as it can be when you just want to get a job done, it is important to remember that while it may take twice as long to do it by allowing your child to have a go at new tasks here and there, you are not only teaching them valuable skills, but you are also building up their self-esteem. By showing your belief in them, you will find that there are all sorts of tasks a toddler is perfectly adept at doing – with a little help from Mummy of course!
For instance, if shown how (and supervised) they are perfectly capable of washing their own hands, wiping their faces and brushing their hair – but just don’t expect immaculate grooming! They can get their own nappy when it is time for a change and they can pass you the wipes as well. Teach your child to carry their plate (not hot food obviously) to the table and back to the sink when they are finished eating and, as long as you are on hand to finish the job, let them wipe up any little accidents along the way. Give them a few grocery items to put away, or hand them the brush and shovel to sweep the floor. Get them to tidy their toys away in the evening. Keeping your toddler busy has the added bonus of keeping them out of trouble. Have a think about your own family life to come up with some ideas of your own when it comes to getting your tot more hands-on around home.
It’s not all about tasks though, it’s about having fun together too. So for those days when the sun is shining, what about what heading out to the garden and planting some seeds? Sunflowers are pretty impressive to watch grow and swan plants with their monarch caterpillars are fascinating too. Load up Big Ted and the gang, throw a picnic blanket down on the grass and hold a Teddy Bears picnic. Pavement chalk can bring out the artistic streaks in both of you, and blowing bubbles never fails to produce delighted giggles. You can’t beat the simple fun of a walk either. It is amazing seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler and you might just stumble across a construction site, with lots of trucks and diggers, to be able to sit and watch for awhile.
When the weather is not so obliging, do a spot of baking together – although in our house, it was always more tasting than actual baking! If you can stand it, turn those pots and pans upside down and let them play the drums, or if you’re not in the mood for drums but you’re feeling creative, make finger or sock puppets and stage a show instead. A plain old cardboard box can be an amazing source of imaginative play – it can be a house, a car or a train. Throw an old sheet over a table for hours of entertainment in a hut where you can even serve up a spot of afternoon tea. A bubble bath is always great fun and who cares what time of the day it is. (It’s an especially good option for those fractious days.) Of course, all this activity around home can be pretty tiring so after you’ve curled up together and read a book, why not do one of my all-time favourite things and take a nap together!
Michelle Vernal is a Mum to two boys and a freelance writer who lives in Oxford, North Canterbury.