Awhile back I realized that Babybel was turning into, like, a kid. You know, that could actually DO things. And wasn't entertained solely by her own hands and drool. Not that I know anyone like that.
I was going kind of crazy telling you repeatedly to "JUST GO PLAY WITH SOMETHING!" And I'm the kind of mom that dreamed dreams of playing all day with her children, creating and crafting and imagining and getting messy! I've spent hours on the Internet ohhing and awwwing about all the fun things parents do with their kids. Back in Reality Land: I have two small children, a part time job and am generally lacking in discipline and structure.
So, for awhile there we alternated staring at each other and running around having screaming melt downs EXACTLY when I was trying to cook dinner.
Don't get it twisted, girls. I play with you. I spend most of my life sitting on the ground, one child asking me to open something the other climbing me like a jungle gym. And you both also do a good job of entertaining yourselves for a couple (Danjo) to dozens (Babybel) of minutes at a time. And at least two days of the week are fun-filled since I pay people to play with Babybel. And there's always a DVD or two a week thrown in there. If we're being honest. The problem was neither my availability nor my motivation.
It's just that anytime we got to the point in our day that needed inspiration, I was too drained from work and home and kids, you were too cranky from, well, being two and there was a small Danjo shaped tumor hanging off my side, making it hard to think of ANYTHING to do besides pull my eyelashes out. One. At. A. Time.
I had noticed this trend of creating a Summer Bucket List. Which, is super great if your kid is old enough to do super great things like visit museums and ride horses and fly to the moon. But, you're two and can barely walk without falling down. Nevertheless, there's something there, I thought.
Auntie Katherine also referred me to her friend's site, Intrepid Murmurings, because the author has a lot of fundamental, I totally forgot about that!, no-hassle activities she does with her children. She does have older, more capable children than I do, but I find that her ideas are age-less, focusing more on play and the process than on any given result. So, it's not some super crafty blog with meticulous tutorial photographs about how your child can make this beautiful and totally developmentally inappropriate nickknack that you can bronze and keep FOREVER. And then cry myslef to sleep when Babybel's "nature craft" looks more like a natural disaster struck. So, I liberated ideas from the aforementioned blog.
The great thing about a lot of these activities is that I can just set Babybel up and you'll occupy yourself for no less than a half hour. In fact, I'm usually the one stopping the fun for something useless like picking Daddy up from BART or eating dinner or using the potty. Then, I can take care of Danjo or cook dinner or clean (ha!) or think about what Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT) is doing these days. (What IS he doing?) No NEEDING to put on hats and pretend play "you be the dad and I'm be the mom" with you or to referee the battle of Babybel's tower vs. Danjo's body or to encourage patience while you're figuring out why the light keeps shorting out in the bathroom.
Without further ado, Our List (of things to do when people start to get bored and cranky and we can't think of things to do):
- all the basics (which you usually reject because you've spent all day doing these things already): books, puzzles, blocks or Duplos, trains and/or stacking Little People and animals in compromising positions
- pudding painting
- water play (we've always done this and now that Danjo can stand at the water table everyone can participate)
- also, watering the plants
- playing with shaving cream, outside or at the sink (Intrepid Murmurings)
- giving toys a "bath"
- impromptu bath time - no washing required, just git nekkid and splash around
- watercolor painting
- paper stuff - stickers, paper, glue stick, scissors, and GO!
- dance party - clothing, scarves and ribbons optional
- couch fort
- pillow island jumping
- sorting (this is also known in layman's terms as "doing the laundry")
- "cooking" with real pots, pans and utensils and maybe some water and de-frosted peas if I feel willing to clean up and/or my parents' dog will be around later - Danjo LOVES this
- leaf collecting (also known as manual labor)
and last, but not least, an Intrepid Murmurings gem:
- the mud kitchen!!!
(I have to note, this old recycling container worked really well for mud, since the holes in the bottom let the water out, leaving damp mud instead of a muddy ocean. Was also great during clean up when we rinsed the dishes over the bucket, so most of the mud ended up back in there.)
(A Mommy creation. Not a fan of being dirty, I had to get Babybel interested somehow. The old camillia blossoms did the trick!)
The best $15 I ever spent. If you have a small child, get thee to the housewares section of a thrift store. Stat.