Lately I've been trying to make a concerted effort to keep Elliott active.
The more activity that is going on, the less likely she is to tantrum or use attention-seeking behaviors (at least, that's what I learned in college anyways).
Also, it's easy for me to leave her to play by herself sometimes.
I get distracted by twitter or Pinterest (my newest obsession), and before you know it, Ellie is throwing herself on the ground crying because who-knows-why because I wasn't paying attention!
Now don't get me wrong, we all want a child who can self-entertain and I am no exception.
But, I also want to have good memories of her childhood, both for me and for her!
Do you know how much you can learn about your child if you simply put down the phone (or the remote, or the laptop, etc) and just PLAY with them?!
I sometimes have to force myself to stop and play with her (it's sad to admit that, but it's true!), but when I do?! Holy cow, my heart explodes with joy, love, and pride! I really don't want to forget those feelings, and I definitely don't want to take my time with Ellie as a toddler for granted
(um, really I don't want to take even one day of her life for granted......)
So, to make the most of things and to get me and Ellie playing together, I've been working on finding fun activities for us! Pinterest has helped a lot with this, and I'll show you why in just a second ;)
First off, I signed Ellie up for a Mommy and Me dance class.
I know what some of you are thinking, because I thought it at first, too.
"Who can afford baby dance classes?!"
Okay, so maybe I'm the only tight-budgeted momma (although I doubt it), but let me tell you a secret: the activities listed in your city or community Parks and Rec department are usually very reasonably priced! I found this dance class (as well as simming lessons and gymnastics classes) for Ellie's ago for super cheap! It's only four weeks long, but I fully intend on signing her up for the next round, and the round after that!
The dance teacher is an instructor at a large dance academy, and we are so lucky to have her teaching this class! We've only gone to two classes, but it's amazing how much Ellie is learning already!
It's not all about first position and pointing your toes at this age. Rather, watching Ellie learn that cleaning up after an activity isn't so bad, and that following directions isn't the end of the world is worth the cost of a little dance class (even if I'm the one dancing and she just stands in the middle of the circle and claps, ha!) She's learning some big lessons, and I'm just so glad that I can be there to see it all unfold!
I'm also trying to get creative with activities at home, too. Thanks to Pinterest, I've got a good start on home-made activities and crafts, most of which are free or super cheap to put together. My first under-taking was sensory tubs.
I came up with the idea a few weeks ago because I wanted E to have a "table activity" for when she finishes dinner before Scott and I, and other times where entertaining her at the table would be nice. I had a bunch of empty rubbermaid bins just sitting in a hall closet, so I decided it was time to put them to use! I filled one with rice, one with pasta, and one with sand (dollar store, baby!) and then put a few toys and/or utensils in each bin.
You could use bigger bins than I did, but that's just what I had on hand.
This size actually works pretty well for this age, because it's not so big that it's overwhelming, and you can easily snap the lid back on and shove it in a cupboard when tiny hands get a little out of control ;)
I was delighted when we finally got to sit down and try out our new activity. I read somewhere that parents often get frustrated with these types of activities because, left unsupervised, most children make a HUGE mess with something like this. So, consider yourself warned! When using sensory tubs (at least for kids ages 3 and under), you should always play with your child at all times. Interact with them, and show them what is appropriate and what is not okay. And at the very least, once your child knows what to do and what not to do, you should still supervise. Because messes like this aren't so fun:
With activities like this going on, I'm much less likely to flip on the TV (even just for background noise), and I'm so much more in tune with my toddler! I could watch her play with these sensory tubs for hours. The look in her eyes......I can't help but wonder what's going on in that little brain of hers!
So, I encourage you to be active with your kids. Challenge them mentally and physically, and you'll find yourself being more connected with them. And as I find more fun and interesting activities, I'll be sure to share them here!