Admit it – you couldn’t wait to see that big yellow school bus show up and ferry your kids back to school. No more bickering. No more whining. And no more built-in babysitters to help with your toddler. Now that it’s just the two of you, here are a few ideas for passing the time. And furthering your little one’s development.
1. Get out the crayons and fingerpaints and work on a banner to welcome the older kids home from their first day of school. Your little one might just be missing his older siblings, and this project will help him feel connected.
2. Set the time for fifteen minutes and engage your toddler in their favorite activity – you know, the one that you don’t particularly enjoy. For bookworm parents, this might mean getting up from the sofa and playing physical games like “push me over” or “I’ll bet you can’t take the socks off my feet”. Knowing that it will only last fifteen minutes allows you to relax and fully engage in the activity.
3. Suggest a game of hide-n-seek. This is a game that little ones are often left out of when the older kids play, so give your toddler an opportunity to play, too. You can pick easy hiding places and appear genuinely surprised when your toddler announces where she is hiding.
4. Offer to let your toddler “help” you with the housework. Just arm them with a broom and dustpan and then get out of the way! Be sure and praise them for a job well done. You can always clean up again when they have finished.
5. Don’t forget snuggle time. It’s a fact that younger children don’t get as much talking to, singing to, or cuddling as their older siblings. It’s not an intentional slight, but merely a function of harried parents having less time and more things to do. So grab a blanket and a stack of picture books and set up camp on the sofa for some serious snuggle time. Or squeeze yourselves into your child’s play tent to enjoy some down time on their turf. Don’t rush through the books to get the child off to bed – slow down and try to make each book last as long as possible.
Think back to all of the things you did with your first child and try to recreate those one-on-one experiences for your youngest. You will not only be passing the time, but creating magical learning moments for your child. And as an added bonus – you are much more likely to appreciate your older kids when that yellow school bus shows up again at the end of the day.