I’m about to spend a whole week home from work with my kiddo, so I’ve had to start thinking ahead about what we are going to do all day and what we will eat all day. On the weekends, we are usually busy with daddy or Nana or doing some kind of activity. However, I think I want to stay home and relax as much as possible while I’m on “vacation.” And I can really only relax if Gavin is entertained, so I’ve been reading up on activities we can do at home that don’t require me to buy a whole bunch of stuff (which is what I’ll do if we start getting bored). While I managed to come up with a few ideas on my own, I’ve found that other moms around the web are much more interesting and creative than I am.
Activities for Young Toddlers
Make Your Own Playdough
To tell you the truth, we actually do have our own playdough recipe somewhere. Actually I think my mom has it, and it’s a lot easier just to find one on the internet instead of searching her recipe box. There are tons of recipes on the internet about making your own playdough, but I like all of the different options at SimplyMoms. I have most of the ingredients at home for most of these recipes, so this is something we can easily do when we get bored.
Sounds simple enough, but it never occurred to me to let Gavin stack canned food until I came across this post yesterday from Counting Coconuts (you will find a ton of amazing toddler activities on her website!). Gavin has been stacking everything lately from shampoo bottles to his trucks. We didn’t have a set of blocks, so I bought him some (see, I told you I would start buying stuff!), but they haven’t arrived yet. We tried stacking some canned food this morning and he loved it!
My friend introduced me to the website, Let the Children Play, which is written by a preschool teacher. I would love to send Gavin to this school, but unfortunately, she is in Australia and I’m not. She does, however, blog about her activities with her students, which means I can copy her. Apparently it rains a lot there because she has a lot of activities involving mud. However, I was particularly inspired by her post about taking music outside. I love that she created a special place by hanging linens to section off the music area (I’m sure the space between our clothelines will do). I also like that she created her own instruments by using household materials, like making drums out of bowls and kitchen spoons. This is something I can easily recreate for Gavin. We might have to keep our music inside though because it will probably be 100+ outside next week. Ick.
Create an Obstacle Course
I can proudly say that I came up with this idea on my own when I noticed we had some cinder blocks and a long piece of wood on the side of our house (a 2×4? I have no idea). I am thinking we can set that up as a balance beam, then move on to his tunnel, and somehow incorporate a sturdy crate or plastic tub to climb on and end up in a kiddie pool. Sounds like fun to me!
Water Painting and Other Outdoor Art
Gavin loves my make-up brushes, but he really loves to paint the floor with them (yuck!). So I found some paintbrushes around the house, and I plan to set up a bowl of water on our back porch. He can “paint” the cement with water and watch it dry. He can even paint the furniture for all I care. Also, I plan on creating his own little zen garden by filling a large tub with sand and give him some rocks (rocks that are too big to choke on), a spoon, and a fork. He can even find other natural material outside to add to it. Hey, I came up with this one on my own, too. Maybe I’m not as uncreative as I thought 😉
One of my biggest obstacles as a mom, a wife, and as a person in general, is that I’m messy. I leave messes wherever I go. I am trying to set a better example for Gavin, and right now, he is very much into doing things himself. He loves to help me throw things away, put things away (then he usually destroys them again), and wash himself. While I am home with him, we will work on ways that he can help clean up his own messes. We already started this morning by allowing him to wash his own hands. He played in the dirt (actually, he played in the mud in the pot of my orange tree) and his hands were covered in mud. I filled a plastic bowl and took it outside for him so he could wash his hands himself. He loved it. Then he dumped the water out and brought the bowl inside (good boy!). Then he dropped it on the floor as he ran to start a new activity. Since we are working on helping him clean things himself, I had him go back to the bowl, pick it up off the floor, and put it on the counter by the sink. He was so proud of himself that he clapped. Cleaning is only a chore if you make it a chore, I guess.
Typically, I don’t put a ton of thought into buying food specifically for Gavin because he normally eats what we eat. However, Gavin’s meal schedule is more like a series of snacks. He eats at least six times a day. So while I am home with him, I will need to devote more thought into what he is eating so we don’t end up eating fruit rolls and goldfish all day. I love Dr. Sears’s idea of the nibble tray. I’ve never invested in a fancy tray. I just use a reusable plastic plate or one of those sectioned plates for toddlers. Some moms use ice cube trays or muffin tins, which is also a good idea. Our typical snack tray has a grain, a protein, a fruit, a veggie, and a healthy fat and/or dairy. Sometimes I include a dip. This way, I can incorporate many essential vitamins and nutrients into his diet. Someday, I will write a whole post about what we include in our snack trays.
Also, I put the tray on his play table and I let him graze. Or he just sits on the table and eats. Whatever works.
Beyond the snack tray, I recently bought some organic chicken nuggets and some healthy fish sticks. I laugh as I write that because they aren’t really healthy, and the fish sticks list salmon as like the 10th ingredient even though they are called “Salmon Stix.” However, they are a source of protein, Gavin eats them, and they are ridiculously easy to throw in the oven for 15 minutes. Yep, I’m taking the easy way out. So shoot me.
I also found a great snack guide in a recent copy of the Food Network Magazine. It list and shows pictures of something like 50 different snacks, most of which would be perfect for a toddler. I can’t find the exact guide online, but the Food Network does have a great website dedicated to snacks.
Of course, Weelicious always has amazing food ideas for toddlers.
I will try to remember to take pictures of all of this and post them when my week at home is over.