Our first born is nearly 2 years young. She has energy, curiosity, cheek and a whole lot of love with cuddles and kisses to give. My husband and I are committed (for now? perhaps) to avoid sharing the telly with her. It helps that we don’t have a TV aerial or the TV in our lounge (main hang out area) but at times when I want to do the dishes quickly (without having a little helper putting the clean dishes and wooden spoons back in the wet) or cook the dinner smoothly (without having to chase after a nimble short blond to retrieve frozen peas and frankfurters having being foraged for from the freezer – for the fifth time that hour – and either successfully or attempted-ly being eaten) in these time-pressured-times, I do fantasise about having something to ‘plonk’ her in front of.
In aid of this, I asked friends on facebook to help me compile a list of activities to share with our daughter and thought others may enjoy or find it useful to print out in big font for the fridge also. The inventory is a combo designed especially for the toddler of inside and outside, chaos and quiet time, parents participate with and without parents participation, fun for the short folk aka kids. You may like to browse (for your older kids): https://wildandgrace.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/the-a-z-how-to-inspire-school-holiday-free-fun/
Un: A3 cartridge paper & coloured pencils or crayons
Deux: Build a hut with chairs & table or couch & armchairs and blankets
Trois: Set up water play the hose trickling, cups, colander, ladle, pots on a low table outside
Quartre: Make an easy-to-flip photo album of family & friends for young one to ‘read’
Cinq: If you have a hill or even a slight incline, set up a water slide, with some child friendly soapy stuff e.g. nature’s baby baby-wash (NZ)
Six: Mum or Dad or Mum & Dad make gingerbread people/shapes and kids ice the gingerbread with a piping bag of icing
Sept: Make pizzas together
Huit: Finger-painting on thick paper at the easel NB: this is an outside activity, which requires old clothes on parent and kid and a warm bucket of water on hand to wash before entering the ‘inside’ again, and a sunny day with clothes line and pegs to hang and dry the painting. (Fingerpaint recipe will follow)
Neuf: Make cold milos (1/2 a cup cows or rice milk and 1 teaspoon of milo)
Dix: Sing nursery rhymes together and film them and send the recording to your friends’ with kids – kids love watching kids
Onze: Make a mix-tape (playlist/CD) of some favourite dancing hits and play it pretty loud so everyone can dance – I heartily recommend Kenyan music for this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ij-NpVFSog
Douze: Knead pastry together and cut out pastry shapes together and put jam on-top together and put them in the oven and then eat them together
Treize: Give 18 month olds whole veges and fruits to explore e.g. spring onion, tomatoes, broccoli. NB: Can be messy, better for kids who aren’t walking yet, but kids that can chew
Quatorze: Take the kids to a tractor shop or a sewing shop with a collection of buttons and ribbons
Quinze: Drive into the country and pat some cows or horses or sheeps
Seize: Go a to local garden with ducks, roosters, peacocks
Dix-Sept: Make a DVD of your friends and family and kid doing happy / fun things together
Dix-Huit: Play cushion mountain, where you pile all the cushions, duvets, blankets up into a hill in the middle of the room and let the kids fly, jump into it
Dix-Neuf: Speak another language with them, or learn another language with them.
Vingt: Kick and throw and catch a ball OR go somewhere where they can just RUN. Clara loves ‘nunning’
Vingt-et-un: Make playdough and have utensils to play with – the garlic crusher is the ultimate
A fellow teacher once said to me, ‘we’re gone-rs if we lose our sense of humour in this game’, kids seem to sniff out the serious aka up-tight aka strung-out among us, and I reckon this is pretty valid for being a parent and a life-partner as well. The lighter we are, the more we breathe, the less we try to solve everything ‘today’, the more we laugh at circumstances and ourselves the smoother the ride of life seems to be.
Also what do you know about playcentre?