In this blog post, I will be discussing different play ideas for Toddler (who is actually over 3!) and baby (who is 21 months old) as during these long lock down days I want to help others with some inspiration. I know I have been searching for inspiration in how to keep them occupied, happy and having fun, so perhaps these ideas might be useful for you and yours!
So here we are, another week of lock down over. In a way, I am starting to get used to this "new normal" way of life. That doesn't mean to say I am not missing the old ways. As I discussed in my previous blog post, I was pretty gutted to have just launched my business and then within 2 weeks (thereabouts!) I have had to close my virtual doors.
But no one is having an "easy" time of it of late. As I scower Instagram, I notice alot of people trying to put on a positive spin on everything and others who really are having a hard time of it. I have days where I think "I can do this" and then, like today, it gets to 10am and I'm wondering why it isn't bedtime yet! I have to say I almost envy my children right now. They are so innocent to everything that is going on in the world. Yes, I think they are missing their friends and definitely family but they have their parents around and we cater to their every whim. They are too young to understand what is really going on but in a way I am also glad about that. I'm glad I can shield them from this terrible situation we are in. I can put on the fun and games and bright attitude- for them. Even if sometimes inside I don't feel it. But it isn't easy.
So here are some games and activities we have been playing to help keep the days light and fun. Maybe give some a go, or even email/message me with your own ideas! I have found lots of activities ideas online but most are for school age children, and my boys just wouldn't even entertain the idea of the Joe Wicks workout youtube!
Best for Baby (21 months)
1. Dancing disco party
We are lucky in that we already have a flashing disco light in our playroom! However all you really need is music. Put on some disco music. It doesn't have to be nursery rhymes, why not put on your favourite music (obviously make sure it's child appropriate!!). Or why not introduce your child to another fun genre of music! We often put on Motown or funky pop for our disco parties.
2. Stacking/ tower building
Baby has been doing this for a while now but he really enjoys it. He stacks anything or builds towers and then delights in knocking them down. Sometimes an activity doesn't have to be complicated. Why not see what different sorts of things your baby could stack? Perhaps raid your recycling and see if they can stack cardboard boxes!
3. Crayon drawing
At the moment we are trying to encourage baby to try out more gentler types of activities such as drawing. He doesn't bother too much with it at the moment. He will have a go but it's not something he is really interested in yet. He enjoys knocking things down and the more physical types of activities. However, scribbling and mark making with crayons is an easy activity to set up (if you have the paper, crayons, and patience!) and even if it's just for a few minutes, it's a fun one to see what they can do!
Best for Toddler (3 years)
I think if Toddler let me I would be reading books all day. He loves books and being read to. Something I am happy to encourage. We have books all around the house. Baby and Toddler both have bookcases in their rooms and we have one in the landing upstairs. We also have a big box of books in our playroom. I don't tend to set a theme with the books but he does vary his favourites from time to time. I do rotate the books around so he sees ones he perhaps hasn't noticed in a while. To be honest I really enjoy this activity with Toddler. It's time when we can snuggle together and I always make sure we are comfy and cosy before we start (especially as sometimes I am there for a while reading book after book).
2. Small World Set Up
Toddler loves playing with people or animal figurines that we have. He is also showing more of an interest in our soft toy collection (as you will see below). Often it is these toys which we find him playing with independently. I love hearing the stories he comes up with and the adventures he takes them on!
3. Teddy Bear Picnic
Another quite simple set up and one they can help with. Get out a picnic blanket (or any blanket will do!) and lay it out on the grass if you have outside space, or on your living room floor if you want an indoor picnic. Toddler can set out the teddies so they are sitting nicely and waiting for their snack. Get the snacks ready and then eat! Discussions with the teddies are optional but funny for both and yourself!
Best for both
1. Obstacle Course
I am grateful we have outside space, I know others who aren't as lucky. But actually you could build an obstacle course inside using your sofa cushions, duvet covers (for tunnels of course), chairs, bean bags, whatever is to hand, making sure its safe to use.
My husband cleared out his shed last week and he found all sorts of things which we used for our obstacle course. Husband built the course using pallets, upside down crates, a random long beam of wood we have, and many stones (we have plans to build a rockery one day!). Each day he re-arranges it so it's a little different or slightly more difficult. Both Baby and Toddler love exploring this. Today, we found an old air mattress in the shed, so we blew this up and added it in to the course!
2. Water Table
A definite favourite for both boys and I really have to make sure their sleeves are rolled up. However to be honest, by the end of the second day of playing with the water table, they had both managed to get on top of the table. Yes, meaning they were inside the section filled with water, you read this correctly, they were soaked head to toe! If you do this one, have a towel to hand.
So for this activity, we had a megablock table given to us a while ago and again it was put in the shed and forgotten about. The table has a dip in it, perfect to be filled with water. With the addition of some water-proof animals and rubber fish, both Baby and Toddler have an fabolous time splashing around. Toddler uses his imagination and makes up stories using these animals too and Baby copies him babbling away to himself!
A classic game and always a winner in our house. We have a basket of cars and a friend kindly gave us a toot veet toy garage. I leave the cars lined up as if they are waiting to go in the garage and Baby and Toddler both know what to do. Even if you don't have the garage, you could make a car park for the cars using cardboard and a marker. I have seen some games where you write a number on the car, and then make a car park space for that car and they have to match the car number to the car parking space. This is an idea I would like to try with both boys.
These ideas are pretty simple to set up. I will be honest, with our two boys, they are constantly changing from one activity to the next so the above listed activities might give a total of one hours fun for us. There are so many other things we do in the day as well as these.
In our playroom, I always leave the toys in places where they access safely themselves. So once they have finished an activity I have set up for them, they are free to roam and come up with their own ideas of what they want to do. I like to see what they are interested in on a particular day and build on from they are doing.
Our days are far from perfect play all day. I don't want to give you an impression that I set up many "invitations to play" or that we constantly rotate the activities, we do give the children TV time and they require feeding about a zillion times a day (plus meals!). (On a side note, does anyone else feel like they are constantly being asked for snacks all day?!). Toddler dropped his naps at age 2 (even though we think he still needs them sometimes) so the only time he stops and rests is when watching TV.
But it is hard. And it's quite disheartening that the government have announced there will be at least 3 more weeks of lockdown. But I try and keep positive and project positive. I remind myself that this isn't forever (it may feel it!) but it's not. We will come out the other side of this. One day we will see our friends and family we sorely missed. As the Queen said in her address to the nation last week: "we shall meet again".
Wishing you all the very best,