Read Part 1 with more on my strengths as a mom.
I wasn’t planning on writing more on motherhood so soon, but today brought more thoughts to mind.
I have known for many years what one of my big weaknesses as a parent would be: playing and having fun.
I don’t remember being big into playing as a kid, much to my little sister’s disappointment. One of my favourite babysitting memories was when the mom payed me extra to tidy up their very messy playroom. And I had so much fun this one time I visited my cousin out of town and was in charge of getting their two very young children ready for church and out the door while they were at worship practice. I am looking forward to when my own kids are school aged and I have to make sure they are ready in time in the mornings and organize their schedules and stuff.
But this whole toddler stage is out of my comfort zone.
Since Calvin started crawling up until today, I kept the living room as a sort of cage for him with the couches pushed together and other small furniture between them and the walls. That way I didn’t have to keep a constant eye on him and I knew he wouldn’t get into trouble. But I guess overnight he grew that extra millimetre he needed to be able to climb onto the furniture and get over the barricade.
So instead of trying to keep him contained, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it forever, I removed all the obstacles and have been letting him have free reign. Of course this means I have had to be much more attentive. I have had to get rid of little “staircases” to keep him out of trouble, like this:
Him pulling all the diapers off the drying rack I am okay with. Him messing around by the computer I am not as much okay with. So now I am at a point where I need to keep him occupied enough so he doesn’t get bored and hurt himself or wreck something. And I have no clue how to do it. So, all you fun parents and child care workers, tell me your secrets! And (I was going to write an entire post on this, but then I had all these thoughts to share and it’s pretty related) those of you who spend the entire day outside, what do you do all day outside?
I don’t have money to spend on swimming pools and zoo visits and tons of craft supplies. I like to use what I have but don’t have imagination to put anything into execution.
And that is where motherhood is difficult for me.
Ha! Your baby now needs more interaction. So find another baby?
Great suggestion! If only they came with the option of express shipment.
I read your first Motherhood this morning…now it’s disappeared, weird.
Yeah. If I can’t find it back I’m going to rewrite it.
I had wanted to comment on your other motherhood post and now I’m sad that it’s gone! :-(
Every child is different, so there’s no easy fix-all. Just remember – you’re a parent. Your job isn’t to entertain Calvin – you’re teaching him how to grow up into a good adult. Part of that is teaching him to entertain himself. If he can get out of your makeshift playpen, maybe try to track down a real play pen that he can’t escape?
Toddlers aren’t my forte, but I do have a few tips I’ve picked up along the way…
Generally speaking, kids Calvin’s age are discovering concepts of space and shapes, as well as sensory learning. Giving him a huge tub of dry rice to play with in the backyard might be a fun and budget-savvy option. Show him different containers and how to pour the rice from one into another. It’ll amaze him because his brain doesn’t understand that something short and wide can potentially hold more than something tall and skinny. Or vice versa. Water play is the same idea – but limited by weather or your willingness to let him soak your kitchen. And kids LOVE bubbles. I swear they don’t grow out of it until they’re 6 or 7. You can get multi packs of fun-shaped bubble wands at the dollar store and make your own bubble solution with dish soap. Anything else to build motor skills will keep him busy too – coloring books, puzzles, blocks, etc. At about 18 months, he might start trying to scribble, so you could start trying to model coloring books to him. (It’s amazing how soothing coloring can even be for us grown-ups. The repetitive motion… kind of like knitting or crocheting. I’ll admit I have a jumbo Harry Potter coloring book I pull out if I’m stressed).
You could also take walks to the library. The walk will tire him out, and you can let him help you pick out books to read. Let him choose from books that you’ll actually enjoy reading to him and you’ll teach him to enjoy reading. Then in the long term, he’ll be able to entertain himself.
The biggest problem I ran into when I worked with kids – of all ages – was that they had no idea of how to amuse themselves. They were so used to being entertained by their parents, the TV, or gadgets that they didn’t know how to sit and be content with a book or how to play a game with other kids. That sort of over-stimulation causes HUGE behavioral problems and it’s one of the main reasons I quit working with children. You’re giving Calvin a gift by letting him learn how to amuse himself with blocks and books and simple things at a young age.
Wow! So many good ideas! :)
Yeah, I have been glad Calvin has been able to pretty much entertain himself with whatever is lying around so far, an I really don’t want to be that parent that always has to have something going on for their children. I just have to learn what will keep him occupied as he grows older and learns new things.
Get a sandbox. If he’s anything like me, that’ll keep him entertained for hours on end.
I’m with you, Larissa. I’m so glad babies grow into 3 and 4 year olds eventually. Lots more fun when they can talk! Now that the weather is getting nice you will be able to go for walks to the playground and let him play with the water tap and watering can. One season at at time….