Because you can only remove and replace the books on the bookshelf 112 times before going cuckoo…

9 03 2007

It can be pretty frustrating trying to think of things to do day after day with a toddler who refuses to let me teach him to knit, won’t sit through a whole “E! True Hollywood Story”, and doesn’t like to read books without pictures. It does get easier the older he gets, but he’s still very limited in the activities he can participate in. I think the most difficult age as far as activities goes was the 8-13 month range. At this stage, he was beginning to be mobile, and wanted to be entertained more. And while he was fine exploring his toybox for an hour, I wasn’t. It got old pretty quick, and I can remember nearly going insane with boredom.

Now that Ethan’s coming up on the two year mark, we’ve got some experience under our belts and I just want to share a couple of my own ideas on what to do with a toddler:

416085610_e7f1af049b_m.jpg*Gather many different size pillows (from throw to body size) and just toss them in a pile. Your little one can busy himself trying to wrestle a giant, heavy object (that’s exactly what a big body pillow is to an 18 pound lightweight) for a good half hour. At least mine did. (It’s still unclear as to who won that match, but I’d put my money on Ethan and his pipes.) This has the bonus of exhausting him and thus will lead right up to naptime. Or you can arrange the pillows in a path around the room, and depending on his age either let him crawl along it or hold his hands and help him to walk along it. (I kind of stole this one from Gymboree, but the wrestling part, that’s all Ethan.)

*Sheets are AWESOME. You can sit the kid on top of one end of the sheet, and drag him around (just be careful you don’t go too fast or he might end up on his head). Or hold onto the edges and lift it high into the air above him, then let it fall back on top of him before doing it again. Sheets also make great forts when the edges are tucked into the toybox over here, the rocking chair on this side; you get the picture.

For our first fort, Ethan and I (well, I made it, he ripped it up) even made a cute sign that said “No Girls Allowed (Except My Mom)” and hung it outside of the fort. We sat in there for awhile playing with toys and reading books, and were still in it when Jeff got home from work. It’s amazing how the same old activity can become exciting and new once you’re doing it in a fort. Or you could just let him wrestle with the sheet. Again, that’s what mine did.

82755573_c5b6f67246_m.jpg*Finger painting is fun, once in a while, only because it can become more about the mess and less about the art. We first finger painted with Ethan when he was 7 months, and despite being cold after sitting there for 15 minutes in his diaper, he loved it. Plus the family all loved receiving his masterpieces. If you find your kid is more interested in eating the paint than creating with it, try making your own- edible. I’ve seen many recipes on the internet; I’d go the pudding route.

416086356_6483f6deb6_m.jpg*Grab your laundry basket, and plop your kid in it. Then pull him around the house. He’ll have a blast, and you’ll get a bit of exercise. And when you’re too pooped to pull him anymore, he’ll still enjoy getting in and out of it, putting things in it so that he can dump them out, or just dragging the basket around himself. (Watch out for static electricity as you pull him over the carpets, though!)

*This one I just came up with today, and it actually held Ethan’s attention for almost 10 minutes, which, these days, is pretty miraculous. But what’s great about it is that he would have found it interesting even when he was 9 months old (probably even younger). Here’s what you need:

random art supplies– we used: scraps of yarn, fabric and paper, shapes cut from paper, pom poms, pipe cleaners, stickers.

-clear contact paper

-clear or tinted saran wrap

416087332_e3aedd2fba_m.jpgSecure the contact paper, sticky side up, to a flat surface. I used magnets and stuck it to the fridge, near the bottom so that Ethan could reach it while sitting on the floor. Give the kid a box or bin filled with the above mentioned art supplies and let him have at it! It took Ethan a couple of tries to realize that the yarn or whatever would only stick to the paper, not where ever he put it on the fridge. This upset him a little bit. As a result, we lost numerous pieces of scrap underneath the fridge. Once your kid is satisfied with his work (or has moved on to relocating the bottles of juice that sit next to the fridge to underneath the dining table), place it on a counter or other flat surface, sticky up. Then carefully lay a big piece of plastic wrap over the whole thing. Carefully. If you’re not careful, the plastic will bunch up and stick to the contact paper that way. And there is NO FIXING IT. I tried. Then trim the excess plastic wrap from the edges of the contact paper, hang in a window, and voila!

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