October 23, 2018 | Sarah Bateman
2 under 2. Its a whirlwind experience to go from 0 to 2 children in less than 24 months, for me it was 21 months. Once the excitement of the new addition to the family settled down, paternity leave was over and the number of visitors started to dwindle it slowly dawn on me that, unlike with my eldest, this time I'd be getting to know my baby whilst simultaneously looking after a very active toddler. Easy. Or not as most people who have spent any time with a toddler will know.
I'd tried to look for ideas to keep my toddler busy before the baby arrived, particularly those suitable to do whilst feeding, as I wanted to make the transition to big sister a positive experience for her (and me!) However most of the blogs and ideas on forums that I stumbled upon were aimed at older toddlers or pre-schoolers and would just not suit my busy, curious 21 month old.
The first few weeks we stuck to easy activities- lots of cups of tea from our play kitchen, stickers, colouring, reading books and, when I managed to organise myself sufficiently, burning off some energy in the garden. After a few weeks I got into a routine; we would head out in the morning then home for lunch, nap and play time in the afternoon.
As with most aspects of parenting finding what works for you and your little ones is a process of trial and error. However due to the unpredictability of toddlers some days finding what works is a real struggle, add a newborn baby into that mix, and if you get to 5pm with minimal tears then you are definitely winning. Whilst the baby was still very small and needing to feed frequently I found it easier to avoid very messy activities, gloop or rainbow rice all over me and my tiny newborn wasn't too appealing.
Some of our favourite not too messy activities are:
* Play doh. We use lots of rollers and cutters as well as some extra accessories such as cupcake cases (silicone ones are great with play doh) to create master pieces.
* Sand and water tray (ours is in the garden so mess isn't a problem). We have lots of cups, scoops, toy rakes, little buckets to mix, pour and make with.
* Stickers. All the stickers. We have some reusable stickers that are amazing.
* Painting with paint sticks.
* Sorting objects into bags, boxes etc
* Teddy bears picnic
* Aquadoodle mat. We've got set of mini foam rollers and brushes to add to the tools.
* Window collage. I tape some sticky back plastic to the window with the sticky side facing out and a selection of things to create a picture with. This is a favourite with my eldest.
* Doctors. My daughter loves making her teddies, and anyone who is willing, better. I give her some plasters to play with alongside her doctor’s bag too.
* Getting outdoors. Bubbles, drawing with chalk, going for a walk, playing on the swing. We love getting some fresh air.
We did do some easy messy play outside- coloured ice, washing sea shells, painting with water- so that tidying up was easy but it eased my mummy guilt about the lack of messy play for my toddler.
Now the baby is a bit older I want to do a few more messy play activities and also begin to do activities that both children can take part in. At the moment I usually give the baby a small item(s) related to the activity to play with, currently this means grab, chew and throw, however as she gets older I want to adapt to allow both girls to enjoy the same activity. This will be a whole new challenge in many ways- the baby puts everything in her mouth, the toddler thinks everything belongs to her and that's before we even start! But watching them play together, the current favourite is building (and destroying!) with soft blocks, is just amazing and the reminder to keep letting them enjoy these early experiences both as individuals and together.
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Thank you to our first guest blogger Sarah Bateman!
You can follow Sarah on Instagram @acoldcupoftea
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