A couple of weeks ago we were at a friend’s house when LM climb herself up their step stool and started splashing at the sink. My friend was happy for her to do so with us keeping a close eye and said she did ‘tap time’ play with her little girl. For so long LM has been content to potter and while we do little activities it made me realise she was ready for more. So this week we have been having a lot of wet fun at our kitchen sink.
And it has been so so lovely to see her having so much fun exploring the water, pouring and splashing. She gets water absolutely everywhere but she has so much fun doing it.
Don’t get me wrong seeing her up the steps tool terrifies me slightly and unfortunately she has fidgeted and sidestepped off a couple of times. I felt awful but she wasn’t hurt as I was there to catch her and she was just desperate to get back up to the sink again. She now loves this and wants to do it all the time. The low point being when she slipped mid climb up and though I tried to catch her shecut her lip… but after a few years bless her she was right back up those steps determined to get to the sink and splash!
And who am I to resist when it makes her so happy?
Simple playtime ideas really are the best sometimes and it is lovely watching her concentrate and knowing she is learning while she is enjoing herself so much.
I wrote this post in the summer, when Monkey was 14 months old, but it seems apt for the theme of ‘Play’ for this week’s The Theme Game:
Right it is time to be honest here, keeping a little one entertained for longer than a few minutes at a time is practically impossible. I was going to say 5 minutes but hubby felt (and I agreed) that 5 mins was too ambitious, so a few minutes is more realistic. If you have read much of my blog you will know that I am trying out a lot of different play ideas with my monkey. He is constantly on the go and looking for things to do so I try really hard to find knew ways for him to learn through play.
I spend a lot of time (in short bursts between looking after monkey and trying to keep the house clean-ish) perusing the internet, via pinterest, other blogs and baby sites to get ideas. I read books and was even given a set of cards with things to do. Many of the ideas are common sense, such as ‘go outside’. Honestly I spend so much time outside as there is free entertainment out there in the form of oh, daisies, stones, mud … anything on the ground….. But these places do come up with some gems that I like to try out but really you have no idea if your little one will be ready for it developmentally, or will get bored uber quickly, or like it, until their attention is taken by something else.
Because, in reality, to fill a day of playing at home, you have to try out so many different things. In the space of an hour yesterday, we did some finger painting, played with play-doh, danced around to some music, played with the clothes pegs (basically spreading them around the room while I tried in vain to get him to “put them back” which I know he understands but complies with intermittently) played with his new kitchen, used mummy as a climbing frame, went in the garden (even though it was starting to rain, I was getting desperate) and played in the very wet sand pit, dug in the dirt, played in the sand and water a bit more, then as he was now filthy and it was nearly nap time, had a bit of a play sorting bottles out in the bath while I washed off the debris from playtime.
Whilst all this is happening I’m also trying to clean up the mess made my some of these activities, scrubbing a potential stain from the finger paints on our lovely dining table (I hadn’t realised he’d got paint on the bottom of his drink bottle until after it had sat on the table for a few mins – thankfully it came off though), trying to pick up all the teeny bits of play-doh off the floor as he likes too tear it up and spread it around the room (we confine this activity to the conservatory thankfully so it doesn’t get walked through the house), pull play-doh out of my hair and pick up the clothes pegs (until he sees they are back in the basket and decides to up-end it again -this was the point that we went outside). I’m sure this is all sounding very very familiar to the other mummies out there!
An hour or so of this I am ok with, but when faced with an entire day at home is it any wonder I go wibbly at the knees? It is fun, don’t get me wrong, but oh, so, tiring. Hence, this morning when my friend text me at 7:30am (I know if I get a text at this time of the morning that it will be another mummy) and suggested we go to the park for the day, I jumped at the chance! I had been sat contemplating my options for the day ahead and was relieved to be able to go and entertain him outside on the play area, in the sand pit and in the paddling pool there. Of course I also take stickers, a ball and other toys for when he is bored of those activities! Plus it is nice to have a good natter with my friend and talk about our ups and downs, much more fun than taking the monkey on my own. He is making lots of word-like sounds at the moment but as yet he is not much of a conversationalist.
My point, ah yes, I don’t really have one, other than to any other mummy who puts in the effort of making homemade paints, play-doh etc, only to have the little one play for a couple of mins at a time, you are not alone! I have found lots of places to find the ideas of things to do, but very few people realistically saying, that this may entertain them for a max of 5 minutes. Who knows, maybe it is just my Monkey, maybe he is going to grow up to have ADHD or something? Though I have read that a short attention span is normal so I hope not. Either way though I will continue to try things out as I know that eventually he will play longer by himself and be occupied by something for a slightly longer period. Bring on that day is all I can say
Right, I have been meaning to write a post about this for aaaages! Bringing up kids costs a lot of money and there are so many toys out there in addition to the things you actually need. But I have found that as he has got older Monkey has basically been interested in anything and everything. He doesn’t differentiate between toys and other objects, everything for him is a toy and another opportunity to learn.
So I thought I would share some of the things that Monkey plays with from around the house, making for cheap alternatives to toys. I would obviously like to note here that any containers etc. have been washed out and he is supervised at all times with these toys to prevent (as much as humanly possible) any random injuries! Also, he has never come to harm with any of the following. He does however trip over his feet a lot (3 times in the last 2 days, quite a collection of bumps and bruises!).
Basically a cheap musical toy as monkey likes the way that they jingle around. Keys work in the same way although I know keys can link to worries over cleanliness and sharp pointiness whereas our measuring spoons are nice and clean and rounded. He also likes Granny’s measuring cups, more for banging and stacking though.
Empty water bottles
For some reason monkey loves empty plastic bottles. He likes squeezing them to hear the funny noise they make, he likes waving them around and he likes banging them on the ground. Honestly, endless fun with just a simple empty plastic bottle!
Empty toiletry bottles
His favourites include old empty roll on deodorants (sanex ones and he has not once tried or figured out how to take the lid off or anything), and an empty baby bath wash bottle. Basically the same as empty plastic bottles, they are good for waving around and banging!
Old remote controls
Monkey loves to push buttons, so old games console remotes and old tv/dvd remotes are a fave. So much so we have to hide the ones in use in a high place so that he can’t get at them and do funny things with the tv etc.! If you have old ones at hand (with batteries removed of course) they can be a great distraction! (Yes he is sitting in a canvas box in the first pic :))
Not sure what it is says about him but monkey loves playing with one of my old purses and one of my clutch bags. The clutch bag he can waggle around and it is pretty sparkly and seems to entertain him and the purse is a three fold wallet so he likes opening and closing and generally just fiddling about with it.
A pack of cards
I was given a present of a pack of cards titled ’50 things to do with your baby’ and I got a few good ideas from them, but they have been particularly useful lately as he loves holding them in his hands, trying to put them back in the box, folding them in half, trying to clap them together… honestly a million different ways. I am sure a normal pack of cards would work just as well, though I guess it would have to be one you didn’t mind getting a bit destroyed!
Of all shapes and sizes. He likes banging on an empty cereal box like a drum. He likes sitting in and being pulled around in a bigger, stronger cardboard box. We have cut up a box holding baby wipes, and put doors in it for him to put things in and take things out. I know this one won’t be news to anyone but cardboard boxes are great! Although when he was in full on teething he did manage to gnaw a big chunk of cardboard off the side of one he was sitting in!
Brown paper wrapping/padding stuff
Not sure what to call it, but as you can see in the picture it was a length of brown papery card that was used as padding from someone like amazon or something. Monkey was entertained for ages, waving it around, like the noise and just experimenting with pulling it in various directions. Was really funny to watch.
Monkey loves Tupperware. He likes trying to put the lids on and take them off. He likes putting things in and taking them out again (particularly his food at meal times, in between bites). One of the weaning pots we have has a lid which is joined on one side, so he has great fun waving it around so the lid flaps about. Tupperware also bangs very nicely
A shoebox or similar
One of my friends gave us some baby presents in a gorgeous storage box type thing and at the moment we are using it for playtime as a what’s in the box type of thing, which is great fun and we vary what is in there. Many of the above items go in there and sometimes things he hasn’t played with before like ribbons or dried pasta etc. Just for some fun exploring. A shoebox with a lid would work just as well!
There are many many more things that monkey picks up around the house as he is busy learning about the world and everything in it! he was busily engrossed in one of my emery boards the other day, and earlier he pulled a dirty sock out of his laundry basket and was waving it around! He loves to play with the stones on our gravel driveway and to pick daisies in the garden (I have to make sure he doesn’t eat either!) . So I guess my point is that in addition to all the toys that he has, he learns a lot just from general bits and bobs too.
I have been getting to know one of my neighbours a lot better recently. She has a 5 and a half year old, and a 3 month old and is a stay at home mum too. We have exchanged the odd hello since we moved in last year and talked vaguely about getting together but not done anything about it. I do tend to keep to myself a bit sometimes so didn’t want to make the first move. Plus life with a baby is busy and hard and I was just focusing on that for the most part!
Anyway after her little one was born we had a chat and decided to go for a walk to have a chat, get out of the house and get to know each other a little. It has now become a brilliant part of our daily routine and at 9am, after she has dropped her eldest at school, we go for a good 45 minute walk and chat and set the world to rights. I am loving the exercise, monkey loves being chauffered around in his pushchair looking at the wildlife and dog walkers of our local area and it is great to have a good old natter and if you’ve had a difficult morning it’s nice to get things off your chest.
With the weather being a little warmer lately it has been a bit nicer than the cold, drizzly mornings and we are getting to know each other better and bonding over motherhood and life at home with the kids
Monkey and I have also been having some lovely playtime in the garden. We found a cheapish gazebo for the garden so that we can always have some shade from the sun, don’t want little man to get sunburnt! I tried him with sand before, but he really wasn’t much of a fan. As with lots of things though, give him some time and he’ll come round. so I did leave the sand table set up in the conservatory for a while and he got used to it little by little. Now he quite enjoys playing with it, most of it ends up on the ground as he likes to take it out of the sand table and watch it fall to the floor! We played with buckets, spades, sieves etc but mainly he likes putting the sieve on mummy’s head like a hat and giggling, then going back to play with the sand!
We got the paddling pool out too and he loves splashing about in there, such a cutey. We are off on holiday in a few weeks and we are trying to get monkey used to water. With one thing and another we never got round to taking him swimming when he was tiny, we looked at various swimming classes but couldn’t decide what to do, so ended up doing nothing! Anyway, the first time we took him swimming, he was terrified. It was a busy Sunday afternoon so it was noisy and the pool we went to wasn’t very warm so all in all it was a little too much to take in. So lately we have been renewing our efforts, have been taking him to a warmer teaching pool, early on a Sunday morning when it isn’t too busy and taking it slowly to build his confidence. He’s still a bit clingy but he very much enjoys splashing around and when we whizz him along in the water.
Anyway, I have digressed slightly! The extra confidence in the water can really be seen in the garden as he is really happy getting in and out of the paddling pool and splashing away which is great!
He loves being in the garden in general and though I have to keep an eye on him so that he doesn’t eat any daisies or stones he loves running around and actually has found a great game of stacking empty flower pots and putting stones in and out of a big empty flower pot! Lots of fun to be had outside Hope the warm weather continues!
It was half term this week so our baby classes weren’t on, and I had to find other ways of entertaining the monkey. Add to that it was cold, miserable and pouring with rain a lot of the time, so I had to be really inventive as he gets so bored of being at home for too long! Again I like to put the age of the monkey to help people search, I find on some blogs that I don’t know how old their little ones are and so while you can tell a bit whether it’s suitable, you’re not always sure what age is right to try it. So anyway, Monkey is 1, or 12 months if you prefer it that way
We did get out and about a bit, lots of walks and luckily there are some nice play areas locally to go to and blow off steam. But one day in particular was just miserable so we only got one walk in the morning and then were inside basically all day. Now I like to get out and do things with monkey as much as possible, the prospect of staying at home with him all day makes me a bit anxious as I know I will need to entertain him, and, well I am a planner and am not great with the totally unknown! Getting out and about a lot is my way of staying sane. Obviously he has playtime at home but he does like seeing the world and things.
So anyway I came up with a few ideas for this week, one just being a bit more musical play and the other was to turn our office/spare room into a soft play area for a few days to give him some climbing, clambering practice in a safe environment.
The musical play went quite well, I got a music CD when we became a member of tumble tots which had a few songs, and we also did some of the music and actions that we do in our music class as he loves those (I did all the ones I could remember!) Monkey was very interested in the cd player though, normally we just play music through our phones or ipod so he was intrigued by our portable cd player and all the buttons and dials. He particularly liked the blue light coming from the display and the way it turned our hands blue when we put them in front of it. I didn’t mind him prodding and playing with it but when he decided that he would use the cd player as a drum, making the cd jump and skip, I felt it was time to move on!
We also played with a lot of his instrument type toys, such as the homemade shakers, and he also got some piano type things for his birthday. At the music class we go to they are all in a big bucket in the middle of the room, so I copied that and out them all into one box for him to pick and choose from. He really enjoyed this, normally they are spread throughout the house as play is often unstructured, so seemed to really enjoy pulling them all out and having a play with all of them at once.
I gathered up basically every cushion, throw, duvet, pillow and quilt from the house. My mum is a quilter and works in a craft shop where they sell quilting materials and make loads of samples and teach classes. So we have loooooaads of quilts of various shapes, sizes and colours and they were perfect for today. I also got a few of his favourite soft toys in there. One of our friends, for his birthday, bought a very cool mat that makes sounds when you walk along it, and he finds this very funny so I decided that would be the entry to the room. (Apologies that the photos aren’t the best, had to use my phone for these ones!)
As soon as we walked into the room, Monkey found it hilarious. I had also opened out the old sofabed, which is basically just foam and so very soft and perfect for this. He’s used to playing in the office and often pulling out dvds from the racks (we are trying very hard to teach him to put them back, but that’s another story) so seeing the room set up completely differently was really amusing for him. I think I’ve mentioned before but he’s never been much of a crawler so he got annoyed at points that he couldn’t walk very easily over some of the soft things, but I think it’s good for him and once he realised that falling over was funny he was loving it.
I’d also made a mini den by hanging his favourite blanket over 2 chairs and he found it so funny when mummy was hiding in there! He soon clambered his way over to join me in there! Another thing which we have been doing is putting a random selection of toys and things into a box for him to find. So in the soft play room I filled it with ribbons and things out of my craft box (mainly left over from our wedding, so very colourful) and a couple of wicker ball things that were on the floral displays at our wedding. He wasn’t interested in the ribbons but carried the wicker ball around with him for ages.
In the end I had to put the sofabed back up and give him some room to walk about as he was getting annoyed but other than that we have left the soft play room set up and have been in there a few times this week as he has really enjoyed himself in there!
I’ve also introduced crayons recently, not sure what age is best to do that really and when I tried before he was not interested. This time however I did get him to do a bit of scribbling, though I had to stop him trying to eat the crayons a few times, but mainly he was just interested in trying to take the crayons out of the tub and put them back in, one of his favourite things to do at the moment. Maybe next time I will just give him one crayon at a time to scribble with?
Anyway, the sun finally came out at the end of the week and we have been back out exploring and playing in the water table and paddling pool, which is great fun Hopefully the nice weather will continue!