Dear overwhelmed parents,
I thought it would be fun to share the things I do with my toddler (15 months) that make my day easier, more productive and, most importantly, helps my boy develop important life skills in a fun way. Some of these ideas were inspired by my parents, some by my in -laws, some by looking up Montessori activities on Pinterest, and others by follwing my mommy instincs. You will see that these are all easy and simple things you can incorporate in your daily routine, if they seem fun to you. All you will need is a little extra patience, sometimes.
#1 Let your toddler play with real musical instruments.
As we all know toddlers can lack a little finesse, so expensive and delicate instruments are an obvious no-no. At home, we have a second-hand keyboard piano that we installed at toddler height. My son adores pressing on all the different buttons and making different sounds on the keyboard! Little drums, recorders and xylophones are also great. My boy also really loves sitting on his grandpa’s knees while he plays drums!
#2 Show your toddler how to help you with laundry.
This tip was inspired by my mother-in-law, when she managed to fold our entire weeks’ laundry in one go with my boy right beside her. I was literally flabbergasted when I saw this. What she did (and what I now do) is place the little one in his crib with the fence lowered down to the max, and put all of the clean and dry laundry into the crib with him. My mother-in-law then started folding the clothes and my son soon started handing the items to her so that she could fold them. It’s crazy to see how much kids love being helpful and how it makes them feel so proud!
Another thing I now do is I put him down beside me in the laundry room and hand him the clothes straight out of the washing machine and he puts them in the dryer. It’s time consuming, but so adorable.
#3 Let them help you in the kitchen.
I often let my son wash some fruits or vegetables for me. I place two large bowls on a towel on the kitchen floor. One bowl is filled with water, the other is the one you show your toddler to put the clean fruit and veg in. You will be amazed at how quickly your toddler will understand what to do! I could see so much pride in my son’s face as he dipped the veggies in the water (he didn’t scrub them or anything, though–you have to start somewhere!) and placed them in the pot! Another thing to do is to let your toddler help you with other aspects of food preparation, using a kitchen helper stool. I don’t have one yet, but we will be buying one for christmas, when our little one will be about 18 months old.
#4 Read a book to your toddler, or let them look at the pictures all by themselves, if they enjoy a little quiet time on their own.
This may seem obvious to you, but reading books to your baby/toddler is an excellent way to boost both cognitive and fine motor skills. Reading is also a beautiful and relaxing way to bond with your child. My son LOVES it when I read stories to him. I started reading to him when he was about 3 months old, and he has been captivated by books and imges ever since. Now, he loves to just sit by himself and look at the pictures and turn the pages. I only give cardboard books to him because he still needs to practice being more delicate with his little fingers. Giving him cardboard books is a great way to practice dexterity and fine motor skills, though. Reading helps stimulate the imagination and increase your child’s vocabulary. It is also a nice way to include quiet time in your daily routine. It is never too early or too late to start reading to your little one. I try to read in a way that seems as if I am telling a story; I fluctuate my voice at the appropriate moments and use a dynamic, joyful tone of voice to make the story feel more alive and captivating. Reading aloud is a skill worth practicing, and your young child is your perfect subject!
#5 Outdoor play
Playing outdoors is so stimulating and healhy for your child that it should never be neglected. Living in Canada, I must admit it is a struggle for me to bring myself to take my little one outside everyday during the cold and grey months. Just the thought of having to put on the winter suit, the gloves, the hat, the boots, the scarf, etc is making me ehausted! But I push through, rain, snow or shine, even if it is just for 20 minutes, on the really ugly days. There are so many things to discover in the outside world! Nature’s toys are the best you could ever offer to your child. Let them get dirty. Let them play with sticks, leaves and dirt. Outside, kids develop motricity and creativity while filling their lungs with fresh air, getting vitamin D and physical activity. If you live in an appartment with no backyard whatsoever, try to take your toddler to the park everyday as part of your routine. If your child is in daycare, I would make sure that the educators aim to take the kids outside everyday.
So these are my five top ideas of stimulating things to do with your toddler.
Do you do any of these things with your toddler? Share your thoughts and comments down below!