Ahhh the end of summer feels.
Summer is coming to an end. The air starts to feel more crisp (well, maybe a smidge…at night, if were being real). Kiddos everywhere are starting to wonder who will be in their class, and if they will love their new teacher. Target is bringing their A-game with their vast variety of back-to-school clothes and fun backpack trinkets. Parents are going crazy over the latest school supply trends and the arguments over spiral notebooks ensue.
Parents who are home with their littles start to look forward to their quiet mornings reading and drinking coffee post school drop-off. They are excited about the fact that they will FINALLY be making it back to the gym after a long and busy summer. (Bye, bye extra 5 lbs from summer ice cream dates!)
HOORAY – some well deserved alone time is here! (For some.)
Toddler mom reality
It’s during this time that the stay at home mamas of toddlers and babies who aren’t in school yet feel the real-ness of parenting. There are no breaks. There are no new routines that allow some refreshment. Days go by just like they have all year. The question is, do they have to? Great news, they do not!
I’m no teacher…
This is the great thing about being home with kiddos who are under preschool age. You don’t have to be a teacher to help your little ones learn about the world around them. All that they need from you is your time and patience. (All you will need is a trough of coffee.)
Small children thrive off of experiences. Anything that they can see, hear, chase, smell, and touch they learn from!
One idea that I had as the back-to-school chaos started happening around me was this idea of weekly/bi-weekly/monthly themes for our activities each day. I know that you’re thinking this sounds daunting, but please hear me out!
Themes don’t have to be complex. They can be simple, and align with the things that you need to get done on a weekly basis anyway.
These are the most simple and the most do-able themes that I use with my own toddlers. Do yourself a favor and keep things simple!
- Whip out that food pyramid! Many little kids have no idea what foods are good for them or why we even cook our food. What a great way to teach them! (And a great way to make your grocery shopping and food prep fun!)
- Head to a local farmers market to learn about farming
- Give your little chef a butter knife and cutting board. Teach them to chop up things!
- Bake something! Show them that putting different foods together can make something extra yummy!
- We all have little Picasso’s in our households. If you don’t have marker somewhere on your walls, you are in denial. It’s there. That being said, there is nothing better than a toddler who is proud of their artwork or something that they made!
- Spread shaving cream on a table (or other washable surface) and let them go to town drawing and creating with a new, foamy substance!
- Sidewalk chalk is AWESOME and stain free. It allows kids to be outside! Tell your little one to draw the things that they see.
- Head to a park or downtown area with murals or sculptures and enjoy the outdoors! Ask your little ones question about the colors, what shapes they see, etc..
- Every time I leave my house I see people in the community whose jobs are to serve the community. What fascinating people to study! (And they usually drive cool things, which is right up toddler alley!)
- Police and fireman are so fun with little kids! Go to your local stations and see what they offer. (Many give out stickers which is a 3 years olds dream come true!)
- Make car rides a game! Each time you are in the car be searching for police cars, ambulances, firetrucks, tractors, etc…
Don’t lose me here. I am not talking about crazy excursions, or outings that take hours and hours of preparation. I am think more along the lines of picking 2 or 3 days a week that you will go do something! Here are a few ideas that my family has adopted!
Yes, some of them have been disguised as errands, but I am only human and mamas need to get stuff done too!
- Go to Target – Grab some popcorn and stroll to your hearts content. Hit the dollar spot for a souvenir for your well behaved tot.
- Local libraries always have fun things happening for kids – check that out and see what you can find
- Take a walk to a coffee shop and get a treat
- Make a trip to the post office
- Grocery shopping/farmers markets
- Trail walks
- Play dates
- Trips to the local recreation center
No matter the activity, errand or not, you can make it a fun learning experience. If you engage and ask them questions everywhere you go, life will be a learning game! (And you’ll get stuff done!)
Make the most of simple!
This is the hardest part about this toddler-school-at-home idea. As a mama I know that it’s sometimes hard to keep things simple. I have found that the faster the set up and clean up, the better!
As you know if you are a #toddlermom, our tots have short attention spans. As you plan things, remember this; they will be just as thrilled with shaving cream painting on your dining room table as you buying many canvasses and paints and making them a mini gallery.
Time spent learning through playing with you is the most important thing here. You know your babies, so help them thrive doing what they love, and you’ll have a blast! Before you know it, you’ll be the parent with the back-to-school pictures on Facebook and toddler school in your living room will be a favorite memory. Soak in every second!