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Making the Most Of Time With Your Toddler

Head to your local toy store with a couple of hundred pounds and a toddler, you will be lucky to make it out with a penny change. There are many toys on the market that claim to develop your baby into Einstein himself but really all your baby needs is your time. Studies have shown that what helps a baby’s brain to grow and develop more than anything else is the feeling of love and security.

With the realities of parenting though it can be hard to know how to make the most of time with your little one. When you’re in the house there is always something that needs doing and it can be hard to switch off from the To Do list in your head. Some parents take to playing with their kids really easily; others find the process more challenging. It can seem even tedious at times but rest assured, if you feel this way you are not alone. There are strategies you can introduce to make sure that you are making the most of time with your toddler so that you both feel the benefit.

1) Set time aside to play with your toddler

You probably have a list of jobs somewhere; it may be on your phone, on the fridge or even in your head. Where ever you store it, start scheduling in time to play. In between washing up, hanging the washing and vacuuming add “PLAY.” By adding specific time into your day where the intention is clearly set will allow you the freedom to engage with your toddler guilt free. Set an alarm on your phone so you are not constantly looking at the clock and give your child 100% attention. It doesn’t have to be for long periods of time, if you are completely focused on your child then 10 – 30 minutes 3 times a day will give them a huge boost, emotionally, physically and intellectually.

2) Involve your toddler in the chores

This isn’t always appropriate and sometimes their “help” isn’t always exactly helpful, but when possible get them involved. Toddlers want to model your behaviour so will love the opportunity to practice being grown up but the additional learning available through house work is huge. Examples include;

  • Washing up = water play

  • Sweeping = gross motor skill development

  • Finding matching socks in the ironing basket = mathematical understanding

  • Putting toys away = gross motor skills development

  • Following instructions = language development

  • Cooking with mum = exploration of the world

There are many more opportunities and as long as you supervise your child and talk to them throughout then it will be a very positive experience. When they feel that they have been given an important task they feel valued and this helps to form the basis of good self-esteem which is essential for healthy intellectual development.

3) Introduce simple toys

A *flashing, sing along, do everything apart from make your breakfast toy* is very distracting for a toddler, and often teaches little but cause and effect (press this button and this happens). As lovely as some of these toys are the simple ones are always the best to encourage natural development, a wider range of skills, and importantly, imagination. Try these 4 items that will help you make the most of play time with your toddler.

  • Ball - roll, throw, catch, kick, bounce, run after!

  • Blocks - stack up and knock down, sort by shapes and colours, listen to the noise they make

  • Foil blanket – Hind behind, grasp, scrunch, shake, lie on top of tummy, lie or sit under like a tent.

  • Treasure basket - a collection of simple household items to engage the senses and encourage imagination as there is no right or wrong way to play with them.

4) Attend a regular class

When you attend a class with your toddler you are setting aside specific time to engage in an environment that takes you away from the pressures of your to do list at home (and doesn’t require you to do the ironing!). The time is for the two of you to share. That set time each week, that is just for the two of you, provides a focus for your play time as well as giving you the opportunity to try different things and learn new skills. Making this part of your routine really helps your toddler get the most from the experience and builds their confidence as they become familiar with the setting and structure of the class, and also the people they see there.

At Tots Play, our classes provide a unique mix of activities, designed to enhance different areas of development, but that also focus on giving you and your little one the opportunity to explore and enjoy the activities together. We also aim to give you lots of ideas, and the enthusiasm and confidence to keep playing when you get home.

We would love to share these with you, and show you how having fun together really is good for you both, so do come and join us at a class very soon. Learn more about our Social Tots classes, suitable for mobile babies and toddlers HERE, then get in touch with your local class leader to book a place HERE.

If you can’t attend a class, or want to continue the fun at home, then perhaps one of our online courses can help. These contain play sessions to follow along with at home plus lots of age appropriate ideas for play times with your child. These are available to access immediately, so there is nothing stopping you getting started today and learning more about how to make the most of the precious time you have with your toddler.

It may be an old saying but time really does fly, make the most of it, you'll be pleased you did!

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