Surviving a full day indoors with a toddler

23 Apr

Toddlers are busy little beings. And that’s an understatement. Basically, you will rarely see a toddler sitting still for more than 5 minutes. They don’t stop moving. Or, in my daughter’s case, talking. She rarely draws breath, except when sleeping. And even then, she talks herself to sleep – and talks in her sleep. It’s very cute and makes for a lot of fun. But it’s also quite exhausting. I’ve found the best way for us to both to stay sane is to have a fairly organised mix of activities and play dates which really defuses the constancy of it all. I generally aim for something every day. If we have nothing organised then we go to the park. This is fine when the weather is fine but wet days fill me with trepidation. The prospect of a full day, on my own, indoors, with a very active toddler and a cat-napping 4 month old baby is, frankly, scary. So, I’ve come up with a few ideas on how to survive.

1) Treat the indoor day like a bit of a holiday from normality – a day when you’re prepared to relax the rules a little. That means a bit more TV than usual and, hey, if your toddler wants to wear PJs or some other crazy outfit all day, why not? Breakfast cereal for lunch? Sure! Meltdowns and tantrums can seem magnified when you’re inside all day so best to avoid battles (where possible) and give in a little more than usual.

2) Pull out a toy that hasn’t been used in a while, or better still, something new that you set aside from Christmas or a birthday. My little girl received an obscene number of gifts for Christmas. I stashed half away in the garage ‘for a rainy day’. But the same concept works if you put certain beloved toys away for a few months, a toddler will have renewed interest in them when you pull them back out. Or – swap toys with a friend.
3) Accept that you are going to do a lot of different activities with your little one – like drawing, play doh, ‘let’s pretend’ games, puzzles etc. However, don’t invest a lot of time in setting them up. You might spend half an hour ‘setting up’ for painting and your toddler (with the attention span of a gnat) will spend 10 minutes at it, which can cause a lot of frustration.
4) Accept that your house will probably look like a bomb’s hit it at the end of the day with toys strewn all over the place – but who cares? No-one except you, your children and partner will see it.
5) Think about ordering take away for dinner (for you and your partner) or heating up something from the freezer. After a full day of toddlerdom, you might just feel like flopping on the couch when your little one is in bed. You shouldn’t have to cook as well.
6) Ring a sympathetic friend or family member and have a whinge about your day. Even better, a fellow mum might be in the same situation and be keen for a last minute play date.
7) If you can’t get in contact with anyone, switch on the radio or play some music. I find that listening to a news and current affairs radio station makes me feel like I’m still part of the adult world. And, even if I can’t listen properly (due to talking toddler) the background sound just makes me feel like I have company.
8) Brave the rain. If your toddler has a serious case of ‘cabin fever’ then dress them up in gumboots and raincoat and let them blow off some steam outside. Or, if you’re really keen, you can attempt a trip to the shops or an indoor play centre – be beware, there will probably be hundreds of other desperate parents doing the same thing and the crowds could be pretty bad.

9) Repeat the following mantra – ‘it’s just for one day’ – as often as possible. A bad day can only last 24 hours. Tomorrow will probably dawn brightly and beautifully, and will be a better day for everyone.

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One Response to “Surviving a full day indoors with a toddler”

  1. Anonymous April 24, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    can i suggest arthurs pizza at bondi junction if you are prepared to wait 2 hours for a delivery which was promised in under an hour…

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