Some parents are afraid of newborns. Their apparent fragility, knowing how much and when to feed them, worrying about first baths and waking up every few hours can be daunting to a new parent. But for those who slip easily into motherhood, they may be more surprised by what happens when their child reaches his or her first birthday. This is a very exciting stage, filled with first words, first steps, and their child’s growing sense of independence. All parents wait anxiously for their baby’s “firsts”.
For some, that sense of awe quickly gives way to exhaustion as baby’s newly mobile feet propel the child forward and away from mom’s grasp. No longer content to sit still and play with toys, toddlers now find pleasure in opening cabinets, emptying drawers and hiding wallets and keys.
It can be difficult to know how to handle a child this age, especially for moms who are with their children full-time. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder how to keep a child engaged for so many hours a day. Here are some ideas for the mom who is feeling a bit at a loss as to what to do with a one- or two-year-old all day.
A Day in the Life of a Toddler
Toddlers love repetition, and so a schedule that they can learn and count on can be helpful. If wake up time, meals and naps are close to the same time every day, the child learns what to expect. That being said, don’t worry if something happens one day to throw the schedule a little off, children also need to learn to be flexible.
Keeping the child’s diet well-balanced and nutritious is always a good idea and can be helpful especially for children who are still developing so quickly. Reducing or eliminating the amount of time toddlers spend in front of the television is a good idea, as without the TV there is more incentive for the child to actively play and use their imagination.
Keeping a Toddler Happy and Engaged all Day
In nice weather, taking the child for a walk in her stroller every day will help the mother get some exercise and fresh air is nice for mom and baby. If there is a park nearby, that can also be a nice place to spend some time outdoors, allowing the child to run around and hopefully see other children, and even giving parents an opportunity to meet and make friends with other people going through the same things. That can help especially if a mom is feeling isolated.
Indoor Fun for Toddlers
On days when the weather doesn’t cooperate with outdoor play, parents can check their local phone book to see if there is an indoor playground nearby. Some of these are stand alone and some are inside of fast food restaurants. For the latter, use with caution. A parent can either feed the child before going, or use this only as a special treat.
Many fast food chains now offer healthier options for kids’ menus, so that is also something to consider. For moms who are friendly with other parents with children close in age, it may also be possible to arrange a play date for children at one person’s home.
Activities and Games at Home for Parents and Kids
Many days, though, a mom can find herself at home with her child and many hours to fill. For days like these, it can be helpful to have an arsenal of choices at their disposal. Twenty minutes of coloring, followed by twenty minutes of dancing, then playing with blocks or dolls for awhile, can make the day pass more quickly for both mother and child.
How much time spent on each activity will depend on the individual child’s attention span and likes and dislikes. Making a habit of reading a book together before nap and playtime, as well as at any other point during the day, sets the child up for good habits for life.
The toddler years can be tough, but with a good attitude and a plan, they can also be a great joy. The key is to keep a schedule, include as many play and learning opportunities for a child as possible, provide a well balanced diet, and reduce television time.