Much as I love doing more structured activities with Monkey, to make cards, or pictures or baking, some of my favourite activities are a lot more free play based. Activities I can set up pretty simply and then leave him to it. Watching where his imagination takes me always cracks me up and it’s also great to literally watch him learning as he plays.
Since LM was born and with all of the illness we have struggled with this year, I have gotten a bit lazy with regards to setting up activities, mainly out of fear. Fear of the mess I have to clean up. Fear of how stressed I am going to get dealing with him and the baby at the same time. I have pulled myself together a little though and one day decided to get a job done that has needed to be done for ages, and involve Monkey in a bit of free play at the same time.
I remember making chocolate easter nests year after year as a child and it is a tradition we have carried on with Monkey, and will with LM as she gets older. It is such a great fun, quick, and easy make that kids of any age can join in with.
Monkey did it first 2 years ago at about 10 mths old, then last year at just under 2 and again this year. He still needs quite a bit of help but I imagine he will less and less help as he gets older.
With Monkey being poorly recently we have spent a LOT more time at home than we do normally. First it was a nasty bug where he was very poorly and spent a lot of the time in bed or slumped on the sofa poor thing. Then it was Chicken Pox, which he actually got off pretty lightly with. He didn’t have too many spots and for the most part wasn’t that poorly with either. But because he was contagious we were still pretty much consigned to the house – but with a full of beans toddler! Never an ideal situation for me and even 6 months ago I would have hated the thought of being stuck at home with him.
He is older now and easier to keep entertained, and more able to amuse himself thankfully, but we have still had to come up with a number of activities to keep him busy and out of mischief while we have been stuck at home! We have:
..made a Den and played Big Bad Wolf (thanks to Bing Bunny for that idea!)
..played in his tent and tunnel and had snuggles and silly selfies in there..
…and made some lovely super simple Mother’s Day cards for Nanny and Granny..
I basically let him loose with some glue and sparkles (loose-ish anyway) then cut a hole in a card like a window and stuck his sparkly collage on the inside.
We have also been watching a lot of TV. Thankfully he likes DVDs now and I have finally managed to persuade him just how wonderful Disney films are. So far he likes Wall-E, all of the Toy Story films and Cars but he is much less keen on Up and Monsters Inc which is a shame. I love some of his random TV viewing positions, they do make me chuckle even if I would prefer it if he wasn’t quite so close to the TV!
There has also been lots of drawing, we tape a big bit of paper to the floor and let our imaginations run wild – at the moment it is usually him telling me what to draw but that is still good fun and then he plays with the scene we have created – seascape, road, etc! Stickers and painting are always good too and as he has improved we have been out in the garden a lot too.
How do you keep your toddler entertained if you are stuck at home?
There are two very different sides to this story, a happy smiley version, and the slightly less happy reality! We very rarely get snow where we live near the edge of the Fens and I didn’t think we would get any this year with the way things were going (we did though, hooray) . But Monkey has been a bit obsessed with snow and we watched “The Snowman” about a hundred times in the run up to Christmas, so I wanted to have some snow fun with him and thought the best way would be to make some of our own. After a troublesome time I also wanted to spend some time with Monkey. (This was a couple of weeks ago now and I debated whether to share it, but have decided I will!) We had to go and get the ingredients so we popped to the shops – my hope was also that a nice ride in the buggy and car would send LM into a lovely slumber meaning Monkey and I could have some time together. She slept well while we were out and we headed home for some fun.
Making the snow
We had actually tried this before but I never managed to get the consistency right, this time we were much more successful. we used a 1kg box of cornfour and 1 1/2 cans of value shaving foam, this seemed to be about right. Monkey loved the shaving foam spray and had great fun digging his hands in. He is less good at the actual mixing so needed Mummy to mix it around a bit. It certainly is a messy play! Then basically have fun. Monkey was loving playing around and I had to make a little snowman, just to see if the consistency was right ;). I added in a few bits and bobs from the crafty draw to add to the snowman but of course then everything gets covered in the snow. I have to admit the Tuff Spot is invaluable for play like this as you just have to expect that they will get mess everywhere, no matter how much you try and contain it!
Where it all went wrong…
Monkey did have a lot of fun but now here’s how it really went. We did have a lovely time at the shops that morning and LM slept as I hoped she would. But it was really very windy outside and while getting them into the car a big gust of wind woke her up. She may have slept again straight away but for some reason I couldn’t click the car seat in for love nor money. I don’t know why but it took about 5 goes of bashing the seat about which wasn’t exactly soothing for her. She did seem to doze off again though so we popped to the petrol station and I like pay at pump so I can do it as quickly as possible. Except for some reason the pump I chose would not accept any of my cards so I had to drive round again to try another. By the time I was actually filling up the car LM was very much awake and screaming. I hoped she would doze off on the way home, but, erm, no. Screamed her head off the whole way and was still screaming when we got in. Having promised Monkey we would be making snowmen he was totally chomping at the bit. I wasn’t sure what LM wanted but tried various things, changed her nappy, tried having her awake with us, tried putting her down to sleep but she wasn’t having any of it and screamed and screamed. But she did lull me into a false sense of security a few times which meant we did start the messy activity, and then she started screaming again so there is Monkey and I with cornflour and foam up to our elbows and a baby balling. The stress levels started rising. I tried to cheer her up while also giving Monkey as much attention as I could but basically I failed, I succumbed to the stress and screamed at LM. I just didn’t know what she wanted or needed and all I wanted in that moment was to focus a little bit of attention on Monkey, but I couldn’t. Then Monkey repeated what I said. Hearing your 2 1/2 year old tell his baby sister to shut up because he has just heard you say it is not exactly a proud moment. We never use that term with him and I was mortified to hear him say it. It snapped me out of my frustration a little bit and I calmed down enough to apologise to both of them and to tell Monkey I said a not very nice thing. I then tried feeding her,but she only drank 20ml and was still so tired so I tried to put her down again. She cried her eyes out but this time did actually manage to get herself to sleep. This all probably took maybe half an hour, if that, but I was totally frazzled. I wanted to try and salvage the situation and have some fun with Monkey… but by now he was having none of it and was more interested in putting the snow outside of the tuffspot and on the old sofa (its old and we don’t really care but still don’t want it completely destroyed). When I told him not to do that he decided he had had enough completely but trying to get him to stand up so I could take off his messy clothes was apparently an impossible task for him. So I got cross (yes, again) and he balled. Hubs happened to text at this point to see how my day was going, I think I replied with a one word expletive then when he tried to offer sympathy, I misinterpreted it and he received a tirade, poor hubs! Eventually I got Monkey back into clean clothes and plopped him in front of the TV. LM was finally asleep upstairs but I surveryed the scene and the clean up operation ahead of me and basically gave up. I sat in the kitchen and sobbed. It actually wasn’t too bad a mess and when I did get round to it, it didn’t take that long to clean up, but in that moment it felt like an insurmountable task and I just felt I had failed. The thing is I know it was my own fault. I expected too much of LM, Monkey and myself. The next day I popped LM to sleep in her cot, she slept really well and Monkey and I just played in the garden. Much less effort, hassle but still loads of fun. I sometimes feel like I am failing at being an SAHM if I am not putting in lots of effort to do awesome activities. Doing messy play, baking or some other crafty thing to teach him through play. In my heart I know that isn’t true. I know that as long as my kids are healthy and happy then I am doing well. I guess the fact that I want to try so hard is good as I want to be the best mummy I can be, but I have to go easy on myself. Things will get easier. LM is only a few months old and nowhere near a routine yet (no matter how much I wish she was, or how many online articles tell me she should be, she isn’t). She will be one day and things will get easier but for now I need to be less hard on myself and focus on what I can do, rather than pushing myself and getting angry and frustrated when I fail and things don’t work out the way that I want them to. So there we have it, on the one hand a great activity, if you have enough time to focus on it and don’t have a screaming baby in one arm! It really wasn’t my day as later on I had to take LM to the hospital to get her hips checked (she’s fine, just routine as she was breech). When I came out it was snowing and I paid for the parking ticket, walked through the snow to the car, got her in, put away the buggy then realised I had left the ticket in the machine so had to unpack the car and go back to the machine where thankfully someone had put the ticket on top of the machine, phew!
I’m not sure where it comes from but Monkey has a little love of Pirates. It could be from a pirate episode of Postman Pat or that pirate programme on cbeebies Swashbuckle (does that do anyone else’s head in?) or it could just be because he has loved looking through cardboard tubes for a long time. We call them telescopes and his Nanny and Pops say things like “I don’t see no ships” in a piratey voice whenever he has one. Maybe it is a combination of these things but wherever he has got it from Monkey likes all things pirate.
So for a while we have it in mind that we would like to do some pirate themed fun and on one weekend recently we had some spare time and Hubs decided he and Monkey would make a treasure chest and some treasure.
They had great fun painting the chest and making treasure out of tin foil and painting those.
Then another day in the week Monkey and I drew a treasure map. Monkey told me where to put the cross and he drew some ponds… then I had to go get LM and came back to discover there was some lakes added on too and the X is now at the bottom of a lake 😉 whatever you say Monkey! I drew on some trees and then was instructed to draw peppa pig and her house – so that is what the red and pink bits in the top corner are supposed to be lol! Hmm maybe Peppa Pig has something to do with his interest in pirates?
To continue the piratey fun we then made Monkey his own pirate hat.
He loved running around with his hat and telescope, but the treasure map held very little interest for him. The real winner with this activity is the treasure chest and treasure. He absolutely adores his treasure chest and can spend ages in the conservatory (excuse the mess, this is the messy play room/laundry drying area) putting the treasure in and taking it out, posting his treasure through the telescope, and collecting it all in one of his treasure cups.
The hat and telescope often end up in the treasure chest too bless him! It has been great fun doing all of the pirate activities and best of all it is an activity that lasts as he loves playing with his treasure!!
It’s the first time we have really done a themed week of activities, but I think we will again.
You know how sometimes with kids, you do something once, and then they love it, so you have to do it over and over and it becomes a tradition? Well that is what has happened here lately. Bath and bed time have been a Monkey and Daddy time for a really long time, it has been their special bonding time. But since the arrival of Little Miss and some difficult days we have been taking it in turns a bit more to look after each of them.
On one day when it was my turn with Monkey I decided to change our bedding while the bath was running and so took Monkey to get involved with me. He wasn’t really much help but he thought he was and had fun doing it with me. After we had made the bed I had the spontaneous idea of doing roley poleys on the bed.
Well I have to say it was a hit. Monkey loved taking it in turns with me to roley poley across the bed and then “fall” off the bed where I caught him.
The photos are blurry because the lighting was terrible but you get the idea.
We then did a few selfies on the bed which Monkey loves doing at the moment.
It has become a bit of a tradition now and so is a very ordinary moment in our house. Now LM has a bedtime routine, she has a bath first and while one of us gives her a bath, the other is in our bedroom playing roley polys with Monkey 🙂 lovely times 🙂
To counter balance yesterday’s post about our awful week, I wanted to share a few of the happy moments we’ve had too. Because even amongst the screaming, hacking coughs, tantrums and general tearing of hair out, there has been the odd moment that has made me happy.
Wednesday, on the whole, was a good day. LM was pretty good, and Monkey spent a big chunk of the day at Nanny’s having cuddles on the sofa, giving him some much needed attention and me some much needed breathing space. While LM slept in the afternoon Monkey and I had a lovely play. We put up his little tent and tunnel in the conservatory and had a great time hiding from each other and generally giggling :).
Monkey has always loved his arts and craft activities, and now he is that little bit older, his abilities and what he can achieve (with some help) have come on leaps and bounds. There are so many activities I want to try with him and so many things I want to make with him, but with a newborn who has colic, reflux and a possible allergy, my hands are sadly tied a bit more than I would like them to be and I am struggling to balance both of their needs. Thankfully Daddy loves doing things with Monkey and this weekend he stepped in to have a go at some Monkey & Daddy crafting :).
After our lovely walk a couple of weeks ago I said I would let you know what we had got up to with our massive conker haul, and well here it is! We have been conker crazy in our house lately! Some activities have been more successful than others but we’ve had fun trying lots of things.
I have seen versions of this before, and actually tried once before a long time ago, though Monkey was too young to really appreciate it at the time. I had forgotten about it entirely until I read this post by Carie at Space for the Butterflies. Seeing how much her girls enjoyed it made me keen to give it another go.
So, one slightly grey miserable day with nothing else planned and realising we were in need of some rainy day play, I decided to have another try and see if Monkey liked it.