When Ben’s kids are with us, we like to do things that get them involved. My children are older, so they have chores – inside and outside. But Ben’s kids are toddlers, and honestly, I kind of forgot what you’re meant to do with toddlers. Forgot, or purposely blocked it out, I’m not sure which. Either way, I had these two little girls who wanted things to do, and fun to have. We’ve had very little input from their mother on what they like to do, or their favourite activities, so we’ve had to feel our own way on this one.
I never thought that someone would put us in this position, as his ex refuses to share information about the kids with their own father. But she can’t be the only ex who acts like this. Some people may prefer to figure it out for themselves, but for us, as one of his toddlers has some developmental issues, and we’d have appreciated some guidance. With that said, I hope some of these activities will help others with their toddlers, step toddlers, or whatever toddler you need to entertain.
Learn Through Play
Children, especially pre-school children, learn most of their information through play. They learn about the world around them, themselves, and their own abilities. Ben’s toddlers love to be outside, but we found ourselves struggling to come up with activities for them. They love to run around, but we wanted to offer some sort of structured activities for them too. Children are individual, and not every toddler will enjoy the same activities. So with that in mind, here’s a short list of what worked for us.
I picked up some large sheets of paper, big crayons and a bucket of chalk one day when I was shopping, and it was the best £5 I’ve ever spent. They’ve created masterpieces that they’re extremely proud of, so we’ve hung them up in their bedroom. For me, this killed two birds with one stone, as I’m always looking for ways for them to have a bigger sense of ownership of the room.
Bubbles are a really cheap and cheerful way of keeping toddlers entertained. Ben’s two love to chase the bubbles. So far, we’ve only ever bought the bubbles, but I’ve been stockpiling the wands so we can try making our own bubble mix.
We’ve been organising our own Easter egg hunt for the last few years. It’s become quite the event, with a varied range of age groups. Ben’s kids loved the hunt, so every few weeks we organise a scavenger hunt, or a treasure hunt. We print out either pictures of the item they have to find, or a visual clue. There’s always some sort of treat at the end.
One of Ben’s kids loves to hunt for bugs and creepy crawlies. I think she loves watching her Dad’s squeamish reaction to everything she finds!
We were really reluctant to involve Ben’s kids in the gardening. My kids have their chores to do, which sometimes includes sweeping up outside, or weeding, but because his kids don’t live with us full time, we saw things a bit differently. We were in danger of him becoming a Disney Dad, where he was giving into everything they wanted. Ben wanted them to think of being with him as being fun, but he forgot that fun time with Dad still means boundaries. With my own kids, I saw no reason why they shouldn’t be involved in some age appropriate yard work. So we started getting his kids involved too. We’ve planted flowers with them, which was great. They loved the messy aspect of planting the flowers, and every week, when they get here, the first place they go is to the pots to see how much their flowers have grown.
I found a water table in a charity shop by sheer fluke. I was planning on buying one, but there one was, perfect condition for less than a £5. It was just the table, so it didn’t have any extra, or things for playing with. So we used bottles, trucks, spoons, plastic tumblers, basically whatever we could find around the house. They loved playing with it, and before long, we had two soaking wet, but incredibly happy toddlers.
We’re hoping to add more to the list, like obstacle courses over summer, and playing in the snow over winter. We’re also trying to find to encourage Amanda’s skills, and work within her difficulties. She loves messy play, painting, water, and anything that can get her dirty, while her sister, Alison, likes it too, but not to the same extent. I’ll update this list as we find new activities, and things to do with them.