I’m Vicky, mummy to Abigail (3yrs) and Charlotte (3mths). I’m also a children’s occupational therapist (OT), working with children of all ages and abilities. So, my life pretty much revolves around play! When I had my first baby, I would spend hours every day playing with her. But when number 2 came along…well, I discovered that it’s a completely different ball game!
I soon found out that trying to make quality time for my toddler, while juggling feeding the baby and nap times (why do babies hate napping so much?!), is so tricky. Of course, the toddler needs a wee or a snack at the *exact* time the baby is just closing her eyes, and the minute I put her down, she’s wide awake and we have to start all over again!
I needed a plan to keep my toddler busy during these times… and play has been my saviour! I started to set up quick, fun play activities for my toddler just before feeding/nap time, in the hope it would keep her entertained for even just 10mins while I settled the baby. 3 months down the line, and this has saved my sanity! So, I thought it would be great to share some of my most successful play ideas to help survive those tricky times, or even just to grab a HOT cuppa at least once a day – it’s the little things!
Toddlers love stickers, right?! My top tip would definitely be to invest in a sticker book and bring it out at feeding/nap times.
- Draw an animal on a large piece of paper and draw several dots on it’s body, using different coloured pens. Grab some coloured spot stickers, and see if your toddler can match the sticker to the correct coloured dot on the animal.
- Mix it up a little, by using different materials. We collected stones from the beach one day, and she loved sticking her stickers on the stones to decorate them!
Yeah, I know play-doh can be messy. But, what I find helps, is setting it up on the kitchen table where I don’t mind if bits get on the floor (definitely avoid carpets!) and sitting next to her so I can chat to her as she plays and make sure it doesn’t end up squished on every surface in the room.
- Set up some favourite teddies or dolls for a tea party. See if your toddler can make some lunch for each of her teddies by rolling, poking and squishing the play-doh.
- Hide beads inside balls of play-doh. See if your toddler can pick apart the play-doh to find the beads and thread them onto a lace.
GET THEM MOVING!
Anyone else’s toddler suddenly have an intense need to jump, climb, crash and bang as soon as you’re trying to settle the baby? I’ve discovered that if I try to stop her, she just craves it even more. So I decided to set up some movement games for her, so at least I could try to contain it as much as possible!
- Throw all the sofa cushions on the floor to make a mountain, sofa slide or stepping stones, and let them jump and climb away!
- Take 5 coloured pens and 5 bits of paper. Scribble on each piece of paper with a different coloured pen. Stick the paper onto the wall, just a little higher than they can reach. From the sofa, you can call out a colour and have them jump and tap the correct coloured paper.
These are just a few of the different play ideas that have worked for us, to help keep me sane, in a crazy time of our lives! If they can help you grab 5 minutes peace with a hot cuppa, then I’ll be happy 😊
I started Play for Today to capture and share all our play ideas at home, but pretty soon I was being asked for more and more ideas from lots of mums – and this is how our Play Packs were born! We now have 7 Play Packs: Fine Motor Skills, Gross Motor Skills, Pre-Writing Skills, Sensory Play, Outdoor Play, Life Skills and Baby Play. Each Play Pack has over 40 activity cards with quick and easy ideas to play at home… no fancy set ups, no expensive equipment… just lots of fun! Come and join us over on Instagram or Facebook for lots more play ideas, tips and resources for your babies and kiddies!