Posts Tagged ‘toddler activities’

When You Can’t Take Any More, Take Your Toddler Hiking

Friday, October 17th, 2014

When You Can't Take Any More, Take Your Toddler Hiking

When I had my second daughter, my first was a toddler: Old enough to undress herself just as I was ready to leave the house, young enough not to listen most of the time. Old enough to take off her shoes in the car, young enough that she still had zero sense.

My toddler bounced off the walls at home, but I felt frazzled and unsafe everywhere we went because she wasn’t reliably holding my hand or listening to me. I felt like all I did all day was nurse the baby and yell, “No! Don’t! Get off there!” at my older daughter. I decided we needed to get out of the house, but we had to go somewhere where I wouldn’t have to contain her or we might both end up in tears. So we went for a hike.

It worked. We had an hour to and hour and a half of time that day during which I was not parenting. I didn’t have to say, “Don’t touch that!” “Don’t go over there!” or “Stay with me!” once.  She got to run and explore and let her curiosity about the world take over. She got a few boos-boos. She ran out of my sight and got scared enough to return. She slept like a baby at nap time, and the baby did, too.

There are so many benefits to getting your kids outdoors. Being outdoors can calm ADHD symptoms, lower stress levels and anxiety, improve distance vision, and raise levels of Vitamin D, helping protect against future illness.  Not to mention the myriad of organic learning opportunities out in nature.

If you’ve never hiked in your area before and don’t know where to start, just google “family friendly hikes in [your city]”. It’s a great idea to try the trail out on your own before you load up the kids, and always check weather

conditions before you go.  Remember that kids get cold faster than adults. Follow the rule you used when they were babies and dress them one layer warmer than you are wearing.

Here are a few tips for hiking with a toddler:

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  • Explore the trails on your own first to make sure they are safe. If you can’t do so, trails marked handicap accessible are a great place to start.
  • Park near a potty.
  • Make sure you have a first aid kit in the car, as well as extra clothes.
  • Put shoes on them that they can’t take off, and clothes on them that they can get dirty.
  • Expect to do more following than hiking—toddlers are very close to the ground and everything is very interesting down there!
  • Let them run ahead and be independent if you feel safe doing so.
  • Don’t go in any further than you are prepared to carry everyone back.
  • Try not to say “No” or “Don’t” while you’re hiking. Make it a relaxing time for you both. Let them explore and experience natural consequences if you can do so safely.
  • Once you find a spot you love, look into a membership or pass to that park to make visiting cheaper.

Once we found a spot that worked for us, we went back again and again. I like variety, but my daughter loved knowing the trail and what to expect. Baby wearing was a lifesaver here, as I could nurse the baby or let her fall asleep on my back and not worrying about getting us home in time for naps.

I found hiking to be a very refreshing and necessary part of my week. Toddlers can be so frustrating when you have to divide your attention between them and anything else. Our hiking time was a time when I could quit correcting and just enjoy her, and as it turned out, that was exactly what I needed.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who can usually recapture her sanity on a hike.

How to Keep a Toddler Busy When You Homeschool

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

HOw to Keep a Toddler Busy While You HomeschoolMy son is 7 and home schooled; my daughter is 3 and loves to be involved. This is not always possible. Sometimes we really need her to be distracted while we focus on a subject and sometimes we invite her to work on the same things at her level.

Here are few things that interest her for more than a just few minutes:

Worksheets – while I believe toddlers and preschoolers should learn through play instead of strict academics, sometimes she wants a pencil and paper assignment like her brother. I like this preschool workbook for it’s prewriting skills.

Finger painting or ooblek – making a mess with paint or corn starch is tons of fun and a great way to keep her engaged. Her brother and I usually join in when we finish our work.

Building toys – We have a large bag of Mega Bloks that come out about once a week. These will keep her busy for hours.

Dress up dolls – paper dolls would work great, and these wooden magnetic dress up dolls are delightful!

Puzzles – this reversible puzzle wheel or this block puzzle are wonderful and work on her visual planning.

Picnic or tea party – these are favorite games for both children. A simple tablecloth or sheet or towel on the floor and a basket of play food or a tea set are all that’s needed. My daughter invites her superhero friends and has a blast.

Spelling words – at least that’s what she calls this see and spell toy. She enjoys finding the right letters for each word.

Bath – yes, sometimes I let her have a bubble bath while we work in the next room. Obviously I keep her in sight at all times.

Cars – I have a tin of toy cars that comes out once a week. Most of them belonged to my brother and myself.

Chalkboard – we have a large chalkboard in our hallway. I’ll get out a bunch of colored chalk or a set of magnets and she’s good to go.

The biggest secret here isn’t the specific toys; it’s that these toys aren’t always available. I have a basket of toy sets and I let her choose picnic, cars, puzzles, or any other set from it when I need a few minutes with her brother. The rest of the time these toys are stored in the cupboard. The rest of the secret is being ready to switch plans if one isn’t working. Find which toys occupy your toddler or preschooler for long periods of time and stash them away for when you need them.

Shannon Smith is a homeschooling mother of two who enjoys crocheting and cold weather.