I’m so excited to be guest blogging over here today. I joined one of Becky’s Online Fitness Accountability Groups last March, and I can honestly say that was one of the greatest decisions I made as I tried to knock off those last stubborn baby pounds. The accountability and support she and the group offered were unrivaled. I am certainly glad I made that decision!
I am a mom. Sometimes I feel like that identity is my ONLY identity. I know you can relate, mommas! Entering into motherhood was tough. Figuring out newborns is…interesting. I’ve been peed on one too many times! Once you feel like you’re starting to master newborn stage, they’re out of that stage in a flash! Currently, my 19-month old and I are figuring out this whole toddler thing. Liam is a BUSY BODY. I don’t know if you can relate or not, but he does not sit still. He’s an amazing sleeper but once he’s up, he’s hardly ever sitting still! Once our other baby gets here in May, we’re going to NEED to keep Liam busy! So what in the world is a momma to do?!
I have compiled a little list of some ideas and activities that might just help you keep your toddler busy as well. So, let’s dive in!
> Engage them in what you’re doing. This has been one of the best things I’ve done with Liam. If I’m (trying) to clean, I try to allow him to help. Now, I’m type A to the MAX, but I’m slowly learning to let that go a bit. Sure, he may miss a little dust with the Swiffer duster, but who cares! At least he’s engaged in what I’m doing! And he’s learning to be a big helper! He LOVES to sweep. He’s not great at it, but even if I am vacuuming, I let him follow me around with the broom so he feels like he has a part and a place. Another simple way to engage them is to let your toddler help you transfer your clothes from the washer to the dryer. Liam LOVES to do this. He’s even made it a game! He throws the clothes (mostly socks and smaller items) into the dryer like it’s a basketball hoop. But much harder! It’s great! Sure, it slows the process down and you could do it on your own much more quickly, but they are learning valuable lessons by helping. Plus, why are we in such a hurry anyway?
>Figure out their interests and encourage them. Our son LOVES balls. That was one of his very first words. So, we’ve tried to really encourage that area of life. He had a little VTech basketball goal since his first birthday and even upgraded to a Little Tykes one at Christmas. So, we encourage the ball playing. Sometimes I’ll stop what I’m doing and play but other times when my hands are tied up, I just encourage him with “Go Liam Go!” He grins from ear to ear, and plays by himself! His interests are growing more now, as he loves cars, trucks, and Play-Doh. So, allowing our toddlers to explore the items they take interest in is key. And relaxing while they do it is key for us. Yes, it may get a little messy, but we will survive!
>Household items can save the day. We buy kiddos hundreds of toys and then a plastic cup is what entertains them for days. Our son likes to stack things and put them inside one another. So, give him a few plastic cups or bowls, and he will play by himself for a while. Sometimes I even get involved by allowing him to play how he wants to but adding another aspect like, “Let’s count the bowls, Liam!” He loves it when I chime in every so often! Just me acknowledging that I’m there and I see him doing a good job means the world to him. And BALLOONS. Those have been a hit around our house! I buy a few packs every now and then and blow up a balloon for him a few times a week. He hits and kicks that thing all day. Hey, a plus is it works on his hand eye coordination too!
>Bring back the simplicity. Sometimes days at home get long. Your toddler is fussy, frustrating, and tiring at times. They can get over stimulated, which isn’t fun for anyone! So, bringing it back to something simple can be key. Some days I’ll break out the stickers, and we have fun putting them on coloring pages or even sticking them on each other! He also has a newfound love for reading, so I make sure I have books accessible throughout the day. He brings me one to read several times a day. I get my momma cuddles in and we get to read his stories. Win-Win!Also—REFIGERATOR MAGENTS! Liam enjoys playing with all the magnets on the fridge. We let him play with any of them that hang out down on the bottom. He has alphabet ones that he enjoys, too! They’re so simple, but it really helps keep him busy, especially while I’m cooking dinner.
>Art. One of my favorite things to do with Liam is make artwork! For our very first project, I took cardstock, plopped on some globs of paint (pink and red), put it in a gallon Ziploc bag, sealed it up, and I let him move the paint around with his fingers. Finger painting without the mess! He loved it! The paintings turned into his grandparents Valentine’s cards. Lately, we’ve been doing handprint art with some of our friends. Yes, it can get messy, but Liam is always engaged! I try to let him glue things on as well. He loves to be a big helper! And he always giggles at the paint on his hands!
>Play Outside. I’m sure you guys know that this is important! This is so hard during the winter, but spring is just around the corner! Getting toddlers out in the fresh air is good for everybody! Liam loves to play Frisbee with our dog Kyla, swing in his tree swing, ride in the stroller for walks (exercise-bonus!), go to the park, and kick a ball in the yard. Some days when it’s nice out we just grab a blanket, put it on the grass, and build towers out of blocks. The fresh air does wonders for momma’s sanity!
>Busy Bags. A new idea that I found on Pinterest (thank the Lord) is called a Busy Bag. My plan is to compile several of these activities for a big busy bag to pull out for Liam just when I’m feeding our next baby. Especially if nursing works out because no one else can do that but me. That way Liam will have something SPECIAL for him and him alone to do while the other baby is getting my attention! Find the many ideas for busy bags here. I love them!!! You know your child best, so find which ones he or she would love to do! Keep the busy bag for special times, so it continually captures their attention. Then, switch activities out every now and then.
Oh, what a gift it is to be a mom! We are entrusted with these precious lives! We have a great responsibility in motherhood. Aren’t you so thankful for the grace God gives us to become better moms? I know some days are tough and tiring, but hang in there, momma! You can do this. Always remember to gain strength first from the Lord. Spend time with Him. He will equip you to be a better mom! And when I see you in the store with your screaming toddler too, I’ll give you a smile. Solidarity, sister…we’re in this together!
So what about you? What are some of your fantastic ideas to keeping your toddler busy? I’d love to hear!