For the past couple of weeks, after being trapped indoors because of cold viruses and snowstorms, I’ve noticed how much time my toddler is spending watching tv, grabbing my iPhone and simply begging to hop on the iPad or computer.
Call it stir-crazy, but in order to avoid listening to non-stop temper tantrums and chasing a fast-moving toddler with a 7-month pregnant belly, I’ve been giving in. Sometimes it’s just easier to do so (not to mention the fact that there are some pretty educational apps on those tablets). But enough is enough. I don’t want my little guy to be surrounded by electronics 24/7 or predisposed to any so-called “computer addiction” whether it exists or not. So I’ve been thinking long and hard on ways to get him involved in more interactive, stimulating activities that can keep a little boy engaged. This is what I came up with.
1. Read Picture Books
Not just any books. I’ve noticed that books with bright colors and silly characters or animals that I can narrate really grab his attention. Board books with pull-out tabs are also really great to keep him engaged. He loves grabbing his favorite books and plopping down on my lap during bed time, so why not read more throughout the day? To keep it interesting, I like to ask him simple questions about the photos or ask him to point out objects. Serves as a great learning activity.
2. Cook with Mommy in the Kitchen
Every time I run to the kitchen to empty the dishwasher or grab a snack from the fridge, I can’t keep my toddler away. He either yells for mama or finds a way to push through the baby gate! That’s when I realized why not set up a little toddler kitchen within our kitchen?! He already has one of those toddler kitchen/oven down in the playroom although it rarely gets much use there. I needed to actually bring it up to mamas kitchen. That way I can have him “make a meal” and even give him some real snacks to “prepare” while I quickly wipe down the counters or make a smoothie without a toddler reaching up for me. Brilliant!
3. Have a Party
Anyone with a rambunctious toddler knows how hard it is to keep their attention for more than a minute. Something catches their attention, they get bored or would…ahem…just rather reach for that iPad. So why not throw a party? Not an actual party of course. A just-for-mommy-and-me party!
Seriously. As ridiculous as it sounds, movement-type activities work wonders for young kids. Every time I throw on some tunes, jump up and down and chase the little guy around the house he has a blast. That and the fact that he is able to see mommy loosen up and relax a bit may help, but it also helps to release any pent up energy kids build up from not being able to run outdoors on the playground.
I also like to mix things up by tickling and letting him hop on my back (for as long as I can endure). Sometimes I even grab packing bubble wrap and let him stomp all over to his delight. Finally, a great way to end the party and reward good behavior is with a little cookie treat. Works quite well, I must say!
Been through something similar? What has helped you get the kids away from electronics?