As a stay-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time trying to entertain a toddler. It isn't easy and it's often tedious. Seriously, what grown-up really wants to spend hours acting out the same Little People scene over and over? But life with a toddler doesn't have to be boring. You're the leader of this club, and how much fun you and your little one have is completely up to you.
1. Get Silly
Sometimes it goes against our natural personalities, but we have to be silly in order to have fun with a toddler. Make funny voices, get animated, and play pretend. These are great ways for your child to develop her imagination.
2. Be Enthusiastic
Your child can tell if you'd rather be doing something else, so put down the cell phone and worry about the dishes later. Show your child that you are interested in what she is doing. She will feel loved, and her confidence will grow.
3. Get Creative
You don't have to be Martha Stewart to get creative with your child. I don't have an artistic bone in my body, but my daughter and I recently made a flower garden out of cardboard circles and straws. If you like cooking, you can make a fun snack together. If you have a bunch of magazines lying around, you can have a scavenger hunt by telling her to find certain pictures somewhere in the pages. You can also make greeting cards to send to relatives and friends. You write what she wants to say and let her color it all in. Just use your imagination.
4. Clean Up
Getting your toddler to clean up can be part of the fun, too. Assign a specific task to her and she will enjoy helping, especially if you make up a song while you clean. Have her stack her books or put her blocks into their bin. She is capable of more than you think.
Toddlers are sponges soaking up all of your knowledge. The more you share, the more she will learn. Sort blocks by color or shape. Have her search the room for items that are of a certain color or that start with a certain letter. Line up her stuffed animals by size. Teach her the meaning of new words that you use or that you read in her new book. Every moment with your toddler is a teachable one.
6. Go Outside
A change of scenery is a great way to liven things up. Even if you just take the same favorite toys outside on the deck, it will lighten both of your moods to be outdoors in the fresh air for a while. Take a walk, toss a ball, or just let her run.
7. Give Plenty of Affection
Toddlers thrive on attention and affection. Tickling, hugging, and cuddling are good ways to show each other love, making it fun for both of you.
8. Give Yourself a Break
Don't be afraid to step away for a moment. Set your child up with a fort of pillows and blankets. This provides her with a quiet spot to play or look at books on her own, while you take a breather to either read your own book, make a phone call, or finally get those dishes washed.
Remember that your child's mood and attitude will mirror yours. And the more you let loose, the more you will enjoy putting that puzzle together for the 15th time. Relax and have fun with your toddler. No one's watching you, except for her.