What to do, what to do?

What to do, what to do?

One of my shortcomings as a mother is finding age appropriate activities for the youngster. I’m not very artistic and I often think that Simon wouldn’t be interested in coloring, gluing, painting, etc. either so we end up reading lots of books. We usually read books after breakfast, before naptime, after naptime, and before bedtime. Often we’ll read the same 6 or 7 books over and over again for a week. This does not seem to bother the child one bit. He could hear about Maisy’s camping trip 567 times and still be enthralled. “More Maimys,” he’ll say after I’ve read it again. On the inside I’m banging my head against a wall, but on the outside I try to be as excited as he is. It isn’t always easy. A mother can only take so much, and a child likes to learn and do new things and be stimulated, and so on.
Lately I’ve noticed that Simon doesn’t really play with toys. If we get out the blocks, he just brings them to me and tells me what letters/numbers/pictures are on them. If we get out his puzzle pieces he brings them to me and tells me what animals/objects are on them. Balls are only fun if I throw them to him. In other words, he does not play by himself. Which means he wants me to play with him. If I’m not playing with him, he is pulling chairs around trying to get on my level so he can “help” me. I don’t mind this too much most of the time. But sometimes knives get in the way. He gets frustrated when I won’t let him cut his own bread with the bread knife and I get frustrated when I accidentally cut myself because I’m trying to keep the knife out of his reach. But the reason I am telling you this is because I would like Simon and I to be able to expand our repertoire of activities. He has “painted” some, but still needs lots of supervision in that area. Crayons are not as interesting. Play-doh is only cool if he can tell me what to make. I know that as the weather gets warmer we’ll be going to the park and playgrounds more frequently, which will certainly be welcome. Today was pretty much the first day it has been warm enough for such a thing and we went twice. The first time Simon went down the slides 7 bajillion times and spent about 3 minutes in the swing. Near the end of our trip he caught sight of this funky ladder thing and I helped him up several times. Then we went home and put him down for a nap and looked at blogs and saw that Simon’s friend Ambrose (who is 1 month older than him) can totally climb such ladders like a pro and I thought, “Maybe by the end of the summer Simon will be able to do that, too.” And then we went back to the playground when Micah got home from work and while I was busy being the family photographer, Micah was letting Simon do it himself. Which he did, twice, although both of us were hovering like helicopters as he did so. And that brings me to my next point: Simon can learn things and learn them much more quickly than I think he can. I underestimate his abilities too often. I started teaching him to “read” less than 2 weeks ago and he can already recognize nearly 30 words.
So, does anybody have ideas for things the child might like to do? Something that, ideally, would not involve me being at his side all the time (except when I’m teaching him)? Or is this just something I have to suffer through (suffer? did I say suffer? I meant something I get to live and love and learn from) until he is old enough to be a little more independent. He does have a birthday coming up (3 weeks from today!), so it might be possible for us to get him some fancy toy, although we really want to avoid electronics. He already has a computer and a camera. I mean, WE have a computer and a camera that he loves so much. Ideas, advice, resources . . . send them my way, please.

13 thoughts on “What to do, what to do?

  1. I really don’t have any expertise in this kind of thing. My only idea is to try lots of different things. I’m sure there are some things that Simon might love to do, but maybe you just haven’t found them yet. Good luck.

  2. I’ve been in this same predicament, and I’ve found several websites I love. Here are my two favorites. They have simple ideas and I enjoy their photos and writing, which makes it easier to go back.
    chasing cheerios
    the write start

    Jane really liked sorting activities at that age (and still does). I give her a muffin tin and just about anything to sort–rocks, pom poms, paper, beads, beans, etc. she stays with it for a while.
    good luck!

  3. Sam had a great idea with Anna the other day. He took our moving boxes out of our outside storage closet and set them up as little tunnels for Anna to crawl through. He cut out holes to shine a flashlight through and cut a little flap so she could go out a “door” in the middle of the tunnel. She likes being in a small place that’s her size.

    Maybe you could build forts or tunnels. Create a jungle of stuffed animals. I don’t know when pretend play starts, but maybe he can be a bear in a den, or Maisy in a tent. Perhaps old activities would be novel in his own little space. And maybe you can convince him that it’s only for Simon and mommy can’t come in :)

  4. i’ve recently discovered that ahonui can keep himself quite busy in a pile of sand (throwing it into the air and such), or just running free with no set destination at the park while i can sit and read a book. indoor activities though? i’m still trying to figure things out for him to do without my supervision. i’m anxious to see the ideas that others have.

  5. Someone in my parents ward gave us their stacking blocks and cups, and when Samuel’s in the right mood they’ll keep him entertained for a long time. Long enough, sometimes, to let me cook half a meal, even.

    I also feel like even if you’re reading the same book over and over (which I understand is very trying sometimes), I think it’s always good to be reading with your child.

    One last thought, do you think he would like a chalkboard? Amy and Christian made a chalkboard table for their kids – maybe they could give you some ideas? Let me know if you come with anything great, we could use some ideas, too!

  6. James likes to play with the building blocks. I don’t remember what they are called, but they are big, so the little hands can hold and stack them easily. James also likes cars. Hot wheels has some that wind up and go on their own. I am thinking a remote control car would be fun for simon (and Ahonui!)

  7. Thanks for the ideas and the reminders, too. I had forgotten about some of these things that Simon does like to do but might need some encouragement with. Keep them coming . . .

  8. my son likes to watch TV Spongebob ^^
    so when he watches that. we get time to do other things. And as for toys. he loves his fav pillow, so we always play games with his pillow. and fancies all kinds of balls. so we usually just buy him a ball.. balloon anything that looks or resembles a ball ^^

  9. Liz…it’s been a LONG time since I’ve checked in on your blog but have to say that it is inspiring. You guys are doing so much with your lives. You can be proud of yourselves. Enjoy the down time with no school and more time with Simon. How old is he?

    You probably have a good knowledge of child development but some of the books, etc. have great ideas of good activities to do with kids. With what little I know about Simon, it sounds like he might be a little like my 4 yr old nephew…loves the cognitive things (reading, etc.) but not much on the large and fine motor aspects – which are pretty important. Perhaps Simon is not that way. But if so…I’d encourage doing as much large motor things that also help develop fine motor things: Draw big circles on pavement with sidewalk chalk, go on lots of walks, draw on large paper, try big chunky crayons (etc.). Just some thoughts. Could he be part of play groups? They are great for interacting with peers and takes off their dependence on your attention.

    You are a good momma!Lucky Simon.

  10. Well, I think he’s kind of at an age where you can encourage his playing independently (as long as you’re nearby). I remember when I was nanny to twin girls Simon’s age. They gave me a work out every day! We did things like: Practicing somersaults in the living room. Running down the hallway and “jumping” over pillows, or small objects (helps a bit that they had a huge house), I would also use painter’s tape and tape huge pieces of paper to the table, with plastic placemats underneath, and let them try finger paints, water colors, whatever. We’d put on some music and I’d just put them there with only diapers on and they’d “paint” away while I prepared dinner, did dishes, wrote in my planner, etc. It didn’t last forever, but at least it let me get something done. Afterwards, I’d let them play in the bathtub. They had these cool soap/paints and I also have heard that pudding works well as bathtub paint :) They liked Duplo blocks (larger legos) and they liked playing “shopping” with a little shopping cart toy and some empty boxes of mac n cheese or crackers or whatever. But it always involved me, to a degree.

    The only times I remember them NOT really noticing when I was there or not, was when they’d get involved playing together.

    So…perhaps more playdates? Or maybe a sibling would do the trick?


    Good luck! AND have fun – this time will be short lived. Too soon will come the time when it isn’t quite as fun to play with Mommy, so enjoy!!!

  11. Ah the joys of the firstborn. Neils still has a hard time accepting the fact that I am not his playmate. He’s 7. I have to say, I really miss those days when we could just go on long walks and explore and had no schedule to speak of so were free to stop and notice whatever he was noticing. Neils also was uninterested in toys as such, but anything Mom was into was cool.

    I think the sorting with muffin tins idea is great. Stacking cups are also great for that kind of thing. We used to have our plastic-ware cupboard at his level so he could get into it as often as he liked. Maybe even if you found a tiny Simon-sized backpack he could fill it with random things and carry it around… that’s the kind of stuff Neils enjoyed at that age.

    As far as crafts, Neils didn’t really get into drawing until this last year. BUT hand that boy a glue stick and he was all about that, even at nursery age. Often times libraries are getting rid of old magazines, not that he can use scissors yet, but he can tear things up, or you could cut things out, and he may enjoy making collages.

    This Drop and Roar Dinosaur was a HUGE hit, it was Burke’s 2 yr old gift, and I could hardly keep the kids away from it. It does make noise, but if it helps him be his own best friend, it may be worth it.

    We also STILL love this Leap Frog toy. It teaches the names of the letters on one setting, the sounds on the next, then quizzes on them, then encourages word-making, and has a musical setting. I highly recommend it.

  12. BTW– the dinosaur was a gift, but I am VERY sure it was bought second-hand and not for $200– yikes!

  13. My two-year-old grandkids have a couple of favorites. One is playing with rice (or wheat, whatever you have in “storage”). This is like an indoor sandbox. I put a kingsize sheet on the floor and pour a gallon or two of dry (uncooked) rice in the middle. Add measuring cups, a spoon, funnel, and dump truck. You may have to sit down and play with him for a while. It is time to pick up the 4 corners of the sheet (easy cleanup) when he starts to throw the rice.
    The second is a bit expensive, but if your son or daughter is into tools, it is well worth the cost: buy the Black and Decker Tool Bench. It has a skill saw and drill and wrenches and nuts and bolts and boards you can saw and build a birdhouse or a toolbox And ALL of it is safe and fun. Our Jonas has gotten about 300 hours of fun out of this christmas present: that’s about 50 cents an hour so far.

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