4 Fun and Constructive Ways to Spend Time with Your Toddler
The toddler years are both exhausting and exhilarating. Mighty Mommy shares four ways you can maximize your child’s fast-paced toddler days.
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As the mother of eight kids, there are countless special milestones I’ve witnessed—from first words, first teeth, and first steps to eating independently, sleeping through the night (yahoo!), attending school, learning to read, first soccer goal, and so much more.
Because of my long bout with infertility, when I finally did become a mother, I truly relished all those firsts. Although I had plenty of days where I thought I’d lose my mind having so many babies and toddlers so close in age, I soon realized that they weren’t going to be babies and young kids for long so I had better enjoy even the frazzled days before they were long gone.
With four of my eight either graduated from or attending college and the remaining four in junior and senior high school, I’m experiencing exciting new milestones—driver’s licenses, dating, prom, after-school jobs, and moving kids to colleges far away from home (bittersweet!).
I try to live in the present and enjoy the ages that my kids are today rather than living in the past. But I can’t help but smile when I reminisce about one of my favorite age groups—toddlers. In my opinion, the toddler years are definitely to be cherished. Toddlers are inquisitive by nature and love to investigate their surroundings all while revealing their blossoming personalities. They also are adorably cute, love to snuggle, are very active and above all they enjoy spending time with mom and dad. The toddler years are both exhausting and exhilarating and definitely a time for tremendous growth and development. Mighty Mommy shares four ways you can maximize your child’s fast-paced toddler days.
One sure way to connect with and support your toddler’s increased curiosity is to explore with him. In an article from the University of Illinois Extension, Dealing with Toddlers they site that exploring is good. “Though it can be hard to keep up with an exploring toddler, exploring is good! It helps children grow in important ways.” “First is the growth of intelligence. A toddler's interest in learning about the world encourages him to use his senses–tasting, touching, seeing, and smelling. His senses help him understand how things are different from each other and how they work.”
A few fun ways for you and your toddler to explore together are:
· Let him find mirrors around the house so he can recognize his own face. Take it one step further by labeling body parts and articles of clothing.
· Get tactile with items like play dough and finger painting.
· Explore the great outdoors such as your backyard or a nearby park.
· Open closets such as the broom closet or the kitchen cabinet where your plastic storage bins are stored and let him put lids on and off and build a tower with the containers.
· Play hide and seek. Toddlers love to go on the hunt for people and objects. Hide a favorite object that your toddler is familiar with and help him with simple clues so he can find it. Let him hide something like a wooden kitchen spoon that you will find. The interaction alone will be time you can cherish for years to come, like when you’re dropping him off for his first year at college!
Clean and Organize Together
One common trait amongst toddlers is their ability to be messy! Most thrive in a chaotic world of having their entire toy bin emptied all over the playroom floor, and are totally ok with dragging their prized possessions all throughout the house, leaving legos, puzzle pieces, doll accessories and stuffed animals in their wake.
Messy toddlers are the norm but now is the time to start showing them how to organize their toys and games, one step at a time, so they will learn about the responsibility of caring for their things. Author Heidi Murkoff of the best-selling What to Expect Series agrees and also believes you can make clean-up time less daunting for your little one by making it manageable. She writes in Cleaning Up Toys: Tips for Teaching Toddlers that “Both you and your child will go crazy if you try to keep a cap on the mess all day. With younger toddlers, it's better to wait until the end of the day to clean up everything at once. Pick a consistent time (say, right before washing up for dinner), and make it a regular part of your child's daily routine.” When my kids were young toddlers this is how we managed their daily mess. At about 5 PM, I’d turn off any distractions like the TV and I’d put on some fun sing-a-long music. We’d spend the next 15 – 20 minutes picking up toys together and organizing anything they had taken out of their bedrooms. The music made it silly and fun and because it was part of our everyday routine, they knew this was a part of our daily schedule and as they got to be older, they could do it with less supervision.