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Home with a toddler: How to keep them happy, engaged AND still do the washing

School of MumSometimes when you have a toddler who has nobody to play with you can find your mind in a tug-of-war.

You want to keep them engaged and happy. You want them to play independently as well as engage with someone. You don’t want them in front of the TV all the time. But there’s something else tugging away at your mind – it’s the list of things you need to do: the washing, the meal preparing, the phone calls, the work-at-home business you might have, or whatever it may be!

To top it off: the cooler weather arrives and brings rain, so now they can’t even go outside. WHAT is a person to do! You search on Pinterest and everything looks like it would take hours to set up, and they’ll probably only play with it for 5 minutes before wanting to move on.

I’ve been working on finding the balance with my little man. Here’s a sample of one of our ‘better’ mornings. Of course this doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s bliss.

Independent Play

It’s OK to let a toddler be free to play on their own. In fact, independent play is good for a child, in a nutshell it teaches them to be…independent! So while he played with curling ribbon, I told myself it was easy to clean up when he was done, and turned to stacking the dishwasher and making the beds – all while having a chat to him about his amazing discovery of being able to unravel the ribbon all around the lounge room.

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Guided Play

A little bit of guided play is just as important as independent play. It allows you to model things to your toddler, and more often than not they will try to imitate you, thus picking up new skills! He just played, I modelled and we talked! It was easy and quick to set up.

It took 3 things – playdough and 2 types of pasta. Popping the spaghetti in the playdough allowed it to stay still while he ‘threaded’ the pasta. And then he could play with the playdough afterwards or make some macaroni art!

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Morning Tea

And with all that comes morning tea. Did he watch The Wiggles while he ate it? Yes. Did he then do some dancing to the Wiggles? Yes he did! That allowed me to do some packing up.

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And throughout the morning there was plenty of this…

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The final result was a little man asleep in bed, and a mummy blogging with a coffee in her hand. These mornings don’t happen everyday, but when they do, I treat them as a success and thank my lucky stars that sometimes I can set realistic goals for our day, and stick by them.

Please note: Nappy wrestles and minor tantrums have not been included in this post.

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