I remember when Curly and Tiger were toddlers. I had all kinds of activities planned. We went for outings and playdates and I had all kinds of crafts and hands on experiences ready for them. I wanted to keep them busy so it reduced the tears and crankiness. It worked. I have such fond memories of all of our play times together.
Now I again have two toddlers. But this time I also have some elementary-aged kids. It’s a whole ‘nother ball game this time.
Can I admit that for a while I felt like I had forgotten how to play with the toddlers?
I was just surviving and trying to keep them busy.
Then one day I flopped on the floor next to them out of pure exhaustion. They were playing with marbles, cups, bowls, and scoops. I knew I had to supervise them while they played with those choking hazards.
As I lay there they offered me muffins, cookies, and cakes. They asked me to stir and to hold their cups. I handed them marbles one at a time as they dropped them into their bowls and listened to the loud “plink” that they made. They took my order for hamburgers. They made smoothies and hot tea. Then they rolled marbles through the carpet, scooped them up in their hands, and let them fall through their fingers.
The entire time I barely moved. I simply held cups or bowls, handed the correct colored marble to them when they needed it, or pretended to taste their creations.
That’s when I remembered those long-off days when I used to do this by the hour. I didn’t have to actually do much, just be present while they played.
In all of the busyness of trying to homeschool the 3 older kids, I had forgotten how to simply enjoy my toddlers. It doesn’t take much to entertain them. They just require my undivided attention.
The next day I brought my water bottle and a comfy pillow and I laid next to them while they sorted colored beads with tablespoon sized spoons and small clear containers. On that day they were making soup and selling jewelry.
So, what do I do with my little people? I simply give them my undivided attention for our play time.
I provide something to play with – toy cars, blocks, beads, marbles, stacking pegs, dollhouses, a play kitchen, coloring books, dress up clothes, or stuffed animals. Then I sit back while their imaginations take over. I sit nearby completely at their mercy while they do my hair, feed me pretend waffles, or dress me with necklaces and bracelets.
With your little ones, just sit with them and let them lead the play time. They only need your attention and encouragement as they play. It takes very little effort or thought on your part. You might find that you look forward to your play time. I consider it the best break during our homeschool day.