Oh the joys of toddler-hood. What to do with your ever curious, energetic little person? Where once upon a time they were a sweet baby that was easily entertained with a cuddle and a soft lullaby, to chilling out with toys on a play mat, they are now ready to break free of the playpen and discover the world.
During the first year of toddler-hood, my little man would have these incredibly long naps from midday to just before 3pm, which worked wonderfully well for all the things I needed to achieve. And then would you believe, he dropped them almost instantly earlier this year. It was a complete shock to the system. For me, that is. What do I do for those three long hours now? eekkkk!
I needed to come up with a plan, and fast. My plan to keep my little man excited about discovering the world, whilst keeping him out of harms way is a constant evolving plan. Every day is different. Here are a few ideas that I have found have worked well, I hope you find them helpful:
AQWA: do you have a mini marine biologist on your hands? The Aquarium of Western Australia offers a program for toddlers every Tuesday in July. Your little one will be given the opportunity to experiment with a range of sensory play station and ocean experiments. Toddlers gain free entry, and if you hold an annual AQUA pass it’s going to work out to be quite an affordable morning out. The session starts at 9am and runs for two hours. Little Matthew had a wonderful time on our recent visit, with the touch pool being the highlight.
Backyard fun: toddlers love to explore. We are incredibly blessed to have a big backyard with lots of different areas for my little man to discover. We have also added a trampoline, water play table, cubby house, train table filled with trains, and a sandpit. There are many activities you can setup, and do with your child. I however really enjoy and encourage free play within our backyard, I believe this develops their imagination and their independence.
Cooking: we have had a lot of fun introducing Matthew to the kitchen. He loves taking an active role in every part, from bringing in the grocery shopping from the car, to helping putting it all away. Matthew also helps find the ingredients when we are preparing meals, and from time to time we get him, along with his big brother Jack involved in baking. All the recipes listed on our website are child-friendly. Need a little more encouragement? Why not check out this fun blog: get the kids busy in the kitchen.
Dance class: We opted for Toddler Bop at our local leisure centre. It didn’t quite work for us. Matthew is really quite energetic, and didn’t seem to welcome the structure of the class. However with that being said, it may work better for you. Toddler Bop is a great way for little ones to get creative and develop flexibility and coordination, all whilst having fun with little instruments and dancing to music.
Messy Tots: toddlers love to get messy! As much as I appreciate all the benefits of it – I always think about the dreaded clean-up. Messy Tots has the perfect solution, they provide fun themed morning events in various locations across Perth, where your little one can get messy, whilst exploring at the same time. Louise from Messy Tots is amazingly fun and creative, and provides some warm soapy water at the end of the session, so you can clean up your little ones before you leave.
Morning tea date: my Mum is a big fan of Dome cafes, and boy are we spoilt for choice. Like Bunnings, they always seem to be a stones throw away. The colouring activities keep my little man entertained at least until his beloved babycino arrives. My favourite cafe is Flinderz Cafe in Hillarys, they offer a great selection of food, the service is excellent, and they have a dedicated play area which has a wide selection of toys to keep your little one busy whilst you catch up with your date, or enjoy your coffee in peace.
Movie date: we have taken Matthew to the cinema three times, and every time we are always so impressed with how well he will sit and enjoy the movie. I think the little Tupperware snack boxes filled with popcorn, and lollies have definitely been a helpful addition. Event Cinemas have created special sessions for the little ones, called Event Junior which is a modified, family-friendly experience. The lights stay low, the sound has been modified for little ears, and there is a ten minute intermission.
Nature based fun: whether it be the morning spent at the beach, or a walk through the bushland, toddlers just love being outdoors, the fresh air, and the sunshine – it’s refreshing for everyone. I love watching little Matthew make his own fun based on the environment, from making sandcastles with his big brother at the beach, to playing with sticks and rocks he has found, and taking a keen interest in all the different trees and shrubs on a walk through nature.
Park: one of my most favourite parks in Perth is Watermans Bay playground. If you have a runner like me, you will be delighted to know that it’s completely fenced – hurrah! And has plenty of fun climbing equipment, aswell as a slide and swing. The grassed area surrounding the playground, is the perfect spot for a little picnic, and there are even BBQs available too. The views of the ocean from the playground are simply amazing. I feel at peace instantly when visiting this playground.
Playgroup: we attend a fabulous playgroup every Friday morning. I have attended playgroups in the past where they have focussed on structured activities, this doesn’t quite work for us. I love the freedom that this playgroup offers. There is plenty of space for the little ones to explore. The outdoor area has a climbing frame perfect for toddlers, a little cubby house and a sandpit too. When the weather isn’t playing along, there is a great selection of toys, and dress-ups inside to keep the little ones busy whilst the parents can enjoy a hot cuppa along with some adult conversation. I highly recommend it. You are most welcome to come along and join the fun. The details are listed in the image below.
The best toy or activity available to any toddler in town is spending quality time with their parent! Yes – you! They absolutely adore the time they have with you. Have fun with them! Play peek-a-boo with them when they decide to hide behind the curtains. Read them books, their favourite ones, over and over again. They love you for it – I promise. Wrap them up in your arms and whisper in their ear how much you love them.
Sure the toddler years are challenging, but they are only little for such a short time, I encourage you to try your best to embrace toddler-hood, and enjoy your little ones. If you have any recommendations of fun activities spent with your little one, be encouraged to share them in the comments below as I’d love to hear from you, and I bet the other readers will too!