Up until recently there were very few things that Alexis would do without requiring my attention or involvement, which made it very difficult to do anything. She is finally at that age (18 months) when certain activities are of enough interest and keep her entertained for longer, as well as do not always require my full involvement. This has been a welcome change to our routines and has given me a few minutes of freedom to be able to finally get things done around the house even if it's 15-20 minutes at a time.
What made a big difference is being able to put her in a "special chair" that she cannot get out of and is not used as an eating chair.
We have our amazing Svan Signet chair that I will be writing about later and it has been invaluable due to its ability to be used without the tray. All I do is pull Lexi up to a desk in the kitchen and voila she sits there working on different activities for 30-90 minutes, giving each activity good 15-20 minutes before moving on while I am free to make food or clean up after a meal. Before that, we tried the same thing at the kid's table and in her armchair, but she would always get up and run to do something else simply because she could and let's face it, she is an active toddler.
So given that she does all these activities in her special chair, here they are:
Table of Contents
This is a no-brainer for most kids over 12 months. All toddler love doodling, however some don't have the patience and the focus to sit there and doodle when they COULD be running around. After all our furniture has gotten "doodled" all over, I decided that something needed to be changed. After looking around I found a HUGE roll of white paper that she could draw on without going off the paper and "lexifying" our carpets and tile floor or tables.
At first, we used this roll on the floor where she contently drew and played with her crayons asking us to draw her hearts and spiders and babies and Rs (her favorite letter). The roll of paper lasts forever and is a really great thing to have around.
Once I figured out the chair/desk situation described above, I moved the big roll of paper there and hung it off the desk. It was even more perfect than I thought. The crayons we use are beeswax crayons from International Arrivals. They have amazingly vivid colors and non-toxic. After Lexi chewed off some bits of the crayons, we switched to the long ones wrapped in paper that are amazing quality and color.
Using the non-toxic paint from Glob made of fruit and vegetables and these brushes of different sizes and thickness, I mix water with the paint powder and let her go to town. After we went pottery painting in Miami in July, I realized that she was definitely ready to paint and have fun with it and it's been .... well, messy, but different from her other activities which is great.
We use this non-toxic play dough to play with. I love the colors and the texture of it. It took Lexi some time to figure out how to make a ball out of the play dough and roll it in her palms but now that she has, she loves making little balls and feeding them to the animals in the books while chanting "Amamamam!" We also have this Russian activity book that is meant to be used with play dough.
This has been the biggest hit of all times! She spends the most amount of time playing with the sticker books and you can take them with you in the car (as long as someone is in the backseat since stickers are choking material).
After we spent a few days working with the book and using stickers together, she was able to take over on her own and find the right spots for the items. So now she will sit on her own ( most of the times), un-sticking the items and finding the right spots to stick them to. Once all the stickers are in place ( after a week of playing with it) she will continue by un-sticking them and putting them somewhere else.
Our favorite sticker books are these two: Sticker Activity ABC and Sticker Activity Numbers. They are small enough that they are not confusing and easy to find the right spots for the sticker, so they are perfect for toddler. Some of the other sticker books I bought are so thick and overwhelming that they would be more suitable for a 4-5 year old.
Great activity for car rides, restaurants, or any traveling situation. This set of 6 books is great if you're embarking on a long trip.
SMALL TOYS IN CONTAINERS
This only keeps her busy if she is in the mood, but it's a good one to have on hand.
All you need are two or more plastic containers and small items that they can move from one container to the other. Over and over again.
LOOK AND FIND
Lexi is a huge fan of Look and Find books. We have about 6 big books that she absolutely adores. After we initially read through them, she was happy to sit on her own and keep finding items of the page. These are great books whether used with a parent or alone. Her favorites are Princess Magic and Disney Pixar ABCs all around
I stole this idea from our local library where we do story time. She loved re-arranging animals on a velcro board that it gave me the idea to get one for her. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a finished product. I don't have time to make one from scratch ( if you do, it ends up being really cheap), so I ordered some cut out animals and letters and a velcro board with hooks and attached the hooks to the back of them.
I just ordered the table and it's not here yet but I expect the sandbox to be one of her favorite past times. She loves playing with sand at the beach and this is the same thing right here on our patio.The key for me was to get non-toxic sand. Most sand has carcinogenic substances in it ( if you look at the label it will state that), so you have to make sure that you get either beach sand or safe sand, like this one.
I've been having to travel for work every 2 weeks to Orlando which is a 3.5 hour drive, so I've tried anything possible to find activities that can be done in the car. Sticker books are great, animals in containers work really well too. I purchased a little lap desk with a notepad where she can draw and it's been working out great. And if all else fails, there' re always those awesome iPhone apps I wrote about.