Recipes for Brief Sanity

You can’t tell me it’s uncommon for a stay-at-home mom to have a completely deflating day with her toddler. (Because I’ve seen the articles about the study that says stay-at-home moms are more depressed than working moms.)

I started to kvetch about how everything went wrong yesterday, about how it was terrible and I was terrible, and OMG he didn’t nap AGAIN and then we had to brush his teeth FOUR TIMES before bed! Then I deleted it because, really, who cares. I just wanted to make a point that I completely lost it, and by it, I mean my patience, grace and confidence in myself as a mother.

Without a doubt a major contributor to my wellness is stress-relief. I find this with exercise, sunshine, restoring order (in my home and myself) and good company. There was almost none of that in the past week, and the sequence of events yesterday sent me to my breaking point. The break looks like this: frustration, tears, slamming something unbreakable onto the floor in an isolated area of the house (with the kiddo safely away and in his crib), stress-eating a half bag of Hershey’s Kisses, then busting out the rain coat, umbrella and stroller rain cover for a walk.

When clarity returned, I logged into Pinterest and typed “toddler activities” into the search box.

I’m pleased to announce the creation of my new board: Toddler Activities (Or: recipes for brief sanity). Did you know there are people out there who actually know what to do to entertain a toddler? And that they often blog about it? Bless ’em.

There will be much pinned there, because there are 120 five-minute chunks of a toddler’s waking day. It’s going to be my go-to source of ideas for activities to fill our rainy, crummy days. And hopefully it will inspire me to be more creative with stuff around us. Here are some things that I’ve already tried:

  • No-mess finger painting (see photo for finished product) – Toddler rating: “Is it lunchtime yet?”
  • Pipe cleaner/colander threading – Toddler rating: “Pipe cleaner tickles, wee!”
  • Couch-cushion slide (I made up this one!) – Toddler rating: “Well, it’s an OK truck ramp.”

We already have these activities in heavy rotation:

  • Helping hands. This morning he made toast, helped me make coffee, unloaded the bottom rack of the dishwasher, threw a crumb in the trash and gave me a pat on the back when we hugged.
  • Coloring. I even put his chunky crayons in a macaron tin as a nod to the Prince Albert tobacco tin that held my crayons as a child. He likes it when I draw shapes for him.
  • Play-Doh. We had a revelation today. If you roll dough balls on the table, they become logs! Even better: the kiddo can actually do that himself.
  • Books. My aunt gave him this Disney Look & Find book that he’s OBSESSED with right now. I’m still stunned at how well he can find the items he’s supposed to find.

Later this week we’re going to try out one of those books that you paint with water, a popcorn kernel tray and an I Spy bottle. While I’m optimistic that these activities will buy me a few moments of peace, I’m not so naive as to leave chocolate off of my shopping list.


7 thoughts on “Recipes for Brief Sanity

  1. This is awesome. I’m going to be stalking you on Pinterest now, in addition to everywhere else on the internets. I’m hoping that some of these will be useful for us soon once my daughter’s “go to” move matures beyond “does this fit into my mouth?” When does that happen, by the way? Age 5? 10?

  2. Ha! I’ll report back when we get there. While I distinctly remember the phase you’re referring to (there were spiders and cigarette butts, EW!), there’s now this moment when he picks up something that I can tell he’s considering putting it in his mouth. Often he’ll slowly bring it up to his lips, out of habit I think. The good news is that he responds when I say “no” and usually gives up on stuff that tastes gross.

    The habit is a good thing for trying new foods, at least!

  3. Lynn –
    Follow my craft activity board for the boys on Pinterest. You can follow just that board if you wish. We just made a volcano yesterday. They LOVED it and requested another volcano today. I didn’t provide them one but I’ll get one out again next week. If you don’t have a “craft” box yet, start stockpiling recyclable materials, glue, paper, markers, etc. I get it out along with the paint in a baggy activity (they love that) and also they love the shaker bottles (best made with glitter, sequins, and corn syrup).

  4. Ooo, a volcano! Sounds fun. I definitely follow that board and grabbed a couple of ideas from it. (And will keep looking for more!) Thanks for the shaker bottle tip – corn syrup! I had no idea.

  5. Ahh, the joys of toddler-hood. I’m not a mum, but I’m an aunt, and I watch my two-year-old nephew 4-5 days a week. I’m really lucky that he has a fairly long attention span, and is easily entertained (*knocks on wood*) but I’m always looking for fun new things to do with him so he won’t get bored. He sees everything new as an adventure, and I love seeing that light in his eyes, so I’ll definitely be checking out your pin boards! As much as I love him, there are days when I can’t wait to send him home to his parents before I have a complete breakdown, so I have the utmost respect and admiration for stay-at-home mums! ;-)

  6. It really is such a fun age! Spending my days with him has helped me open my eyes a bit, trying to see what he sees and trying to find new things to show him. What a gift to be able to share that with your nephew (and get to send him home at the end of the day) :)

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