For anyone who has "owned" one of those cheeky little three year old daughters, you will know that your day can change in an instant, from dealing with an irrational meltdown to the happiest child in the world. I suppose that is a little like me on a shopping trip, one minute I am crying that they don't have my size, then I am skipping with delight when I find a bargain .... but I digress. Catching and maintaining the attention span of a toddler is no mean feat but here are my top 10 every day (and mainly free) activities to do with your little one.
1. Dance & Sing Together
We sing, alot. We sing in the car, much to the amusement of my husband when he is in the car but we dance at every given opportunity too. The little one loves to copy dancing on the TV, so just make sure the parental controls are on the music videos.
2. Take silly pictures and look through family photos
I do not know any toddler that doesn't love taking a random selfie or two (or fifty) and sometimes I have to wrestle the phone back from her in order to make a call (and delete 50 random selfies). It is good to look back on old photographs with the children too, they love seeing themselves as a baby and find it hilarious to look at photos of me and their dad as children too.
3. Wash the car
This may sound a tiresome task to any grown adult but to a toddler it is an excuse to splash outside, wave a hosepipe around and find nothing more funny than getting soapy bubbles anywhere other than on the car. Once they have calmed down, it is also a good way to teach them the importance of helping do tasks around (or outside) the home.
4. Go shopping
Shopping is a passion of mine and this week on our "mummy and daughter" day, the little one asked to go to the shops so we could have a cup of tea. So we ventured to John Lewis for our regular tea for two and sat and chatted about what we were going to buy. Shopping is a passion of mine, I know it might sound shallow but we all have our vices and a gorgeous pair of shoes and matching handbag is mine.
The toddler was all about what she could get in the toy section, whereas I needed to go to River Island for my godsons birthday present (apparently 9 year old boys are fashion conscious too). Just don't get me started on the toddler "selecting" a party outfit for herself too!
5. Play dress up
Now usually I am all about clothes but unfortunately the girls love nothing more than stripping off as soon as they get in the house, unless of course there is the chance for dressing up. This can be anything from a princess, a doctor ..... or indeed coming in and finding them wearing one of my dresses and tottering around in my heels. Apparently a mums wardrobe is a haven of delights.
You don't have to be Delia to bake cakes with the children. My mum always said that her oven was broken but in reality she couldn't get a cake to rise for love nor money, thankfully I haven't inherited the inability to bake and the girls love to measure, mix and decorate cakes. Word of advice though : Never leave a toddler with a tub of hundreds and thousands as they *may* end up in every corner of your kitchen.
7. Have a tea party
Who doesn't love a tea party (see toddler above) and this is one of our favourite bath time activities. We have a plastic tea set and everyone gets a (slightly bubbly) cup of tea ..... unless you are Daddy and he gets coffee of course. This translates into every day life too as when we are making tea (or coffee) the little one loves to come and help with the milk and sugar, not the boiling hot water bit, and let's be honest making a good cup of tea is a life skill in my book!
8. Build a tower
You don't have to have expensive building blocks to build a tower, children love to build a tower with anything and everything from dominoes to lumps of wood outside but the very best part is always knocking it down.
9. Let them be you.
All toddlers love to emulate their parents, so I very often let the little one into my office to come and "work" for a bit. She loves to sit at my desk, pressing the buttons on my phone and writing important letters. It is easy to ask them to leave you in peace while you work but in all honesty, I think it is good for her to see me working and I hope that the desire to do well, to contribute to the family finances and achieve personal fulfillment can be found in these moments.
10. Let them play on their own!
I see so many parents (myself included) continually trying to stimulate, engage and occupy their children, when sometimes the very best activity for them is to play by themselves. They develop their imagination, find role play with their toys and learn to enjoy their own company. It also gives parents a few minutes peace but just be careful if they go quiet ...... a silent toddler is usually a mischievous one.
What activities do you enjoy with your little ones?