Undoubtedly you've heard that than idle mind is the devil's workshop.
'Tis true, and my daughter is no exception, and I'm sure your little one isn't either.
During the winter months, we are stuck in the house a lot. This isn't good for a toddler with lots of expendable energy. Actually, it isn't good for my house, because she expends it, whether it's a proper outlet or not. Channeling that energy profitably and productively has been a major goal these past few months.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Schoolwork: She loves to do school, so I try to have a worksheet for her to work on pretty frequently. I'm not striving for perfection or even understanding at this point, but I do insist that she follow my directions. Following directions is pretty much the starting point to learning, so we are focusing the fundamentals right now. My favorite sites for free worksheets are Pre-school Palace and TLS Books, but there are many other out there. We made this Shape Book, and she can correctly identify most of these shapes now, even in everyday objects, like a window frame or a wheel.
- Housework: I give her a baby wipe and I ask her to help me clean up. She loves to help mama, so I can generally get a few minutes of cleaning done with her by my side, and she is learning to be a helper. Other times, I set her at the sink with a few unbreakable dishes and leave the faucet running at a trickle. I give her the soap pump and a wash cloth, and let her "do the dishes." She generally has to get her clothes changed afterwards, but she can spend up to a half-hour doing dishes while I work in the kitchen.
- Guided physical activity: I find that if she has too much energy, she gets wild and out of control. If I sense an impending explosion, I try to head it off by having her run around. We play a game of "Touch". I tell her to run and touch the bed. She comes back and I tell her to run and touch the front door. She comes back and I tell her to run and touch the bathtub. So simple, but she loves this! Another really simple thing that she loves is to set a pillow or other object on the floor and have her run around it. She'll run for a couple of minutes around a couch pillow--giggling the whole time!
- Books: Grace is an avid consumer of books. We visit the library at least weekly, so a fresh batch of books keeps her busy for a long time. I'm not sure if Leah will be the same way, as she is definitely the active type. She hates to sit still.
- Visit the neighbors: We live in a condo, so sometimes we just go and visit the neighbor! The lady across the hall enjoys children, so we go next-door and chat for a few minutes.
- Busy Work: Sometimes I let her pull out the markers and scissors (generally off-limits) and make cards. She loves to cut and color, but she understands that if she cuts or marks anything besides her paper, the privileges are over. This is a newer activity for us, as she is just now understanding this.
- Room Time: This is more for me than her. Some days I put the gate up in front of her bedroom door, and I tell her that she has to play nicely by herself for one hour. I bring her library books, the potty seat, and a drink. Once she understands that I'm serious, she settles down and plays with her toys, books, and her imagination. Her door is open, so I am able to occasionally pop in and make sure everything is OK.
- Movies: This is rare, but if I have to get something done pronto without distractions, then I will let her watch Curious George or Winnie the Pooh. Since we don't have a TV, this guarantees as much quiet time as I need. We have a projector and a DVD player, and I check out kid's DVDs from the library.