Today we have a very special guest post brought to you by my 1 year old daughter, The Girl, who has a few tips for her compatriots and fellow toddlers…
As we all know it’s hard work being a toddler. There’s always lots to keep you busy and life is never easy. Almost anything can tip me over the edge these days! One of the aspects of my life that I find the most work-intensive, and yet also the most rewarding, is keeping my parents happy and well-occupied – goodness knows you don’t want to give them the chance to even think about another baby, never mind the opportunity to actually do something about it!
With that in mind I’ve come up with my 5 top tips on how to enrich your parents’ enviroment so that they can live a content and fulfilled life. And in case you doubt my experience at only just one year old – fear not! I’ve consulted an expert, namely: my four year old brother. Trust me when I say he’s turned this into an art form.
1 – Redistribute
Ever wondered why the DVDs are usually handily placed at easy-to-reach toddler height? The only reason I can think of is that they need us to engage in this activity. The best way, in my opinion, is to simply pull them off the shelves and distribute them liberally across the room, but some people like to riff on this. I know my brother recommends always placing at least one in a really unusual location, like the cutlery drawer or under the sofa, just so they get a nice surprise at a later date. Make sure you don’t miss any – quantity is the key here. If you have the strength then do try to pull a couple of shelves down with the DVDs. This means the parents have to get out their toys and have a really good play with the shelving, encouraging problem solving, lateral thinking and creative vocabulary too!
2 – Store a snack
I first happened across this one when I was just trying to find a handy receptacle for my unwanted piece of cake and popped it into Mummy’s boot, but her obvious delight when she discovered it has encouraged me to try it again with different food items and locations. The winner so far was a piece of banana in Daddy’s laptop – Mummy had so much fun cleaning that out before Daddy got home and it kept her busy for ages!
3 – Unexpected item in the bedding area
Put objects where they’re not supposed to be. This is essentially an extension of the food items one, but because you usually want to eat the food, we’ve developed this as a way of furthering the game play. The title of this tip actually comes from my brother’s favourite location – he says you get a great reaction from leaving toys, books, shoes, hairbrushes and other unexpected objects tucked up nice and tight inside the parents’ bed or under their pillows. Unfortunately you’re often not present to see the reaction, but I’ve heard them telling their friends about it and it really seems to create a happy, joyful atmosphere with lots of laughter.
We’ve tried other locations – a line of toy cars across the bottom of the stairs, duplo next to the bed, books in the DVD player, shoes in the tupperware drawer, but they just lack the lovely surprise of something tucked up snug in bed waiting for a sleepy parent to lie on it.
4 – Drop and repeat
This can be done from a highchair, buggy or cot – or even sitting on someone’s lap. Just drop the item you’re holding onto the floor and wait for the parent to pick it up and hand it back, then repeat – the look of satisfaction and pleasure they get from performing this simple task is really worth the effort. For additional enrichment just add a little mess – nothing like scraping raspberry porridge off the floor and walls to keep a Mummy out of trouble! And remember – if they don’t want to engage in this game you can offer a little gentle encouragement in the form of an outraged screech until your item is returned.
5 – Peekapoo
What can I say? They just love this one. Do an almighty shit and wait for them to notice – they’ll jump around with alacrity, especially if you’ve managed to work out how to remove your nappy and are able to do this – or simply wait until nappy free time and lay a log on the carpet. Great fun for all the family, and you can also enjoy the pleasing aroma. To make the game extra exciting make repeated feints for the poo or the dirty nappy as the parent attempts to clean up – it’s a great way to get them to exercise dexterity, multitasking, prioritising and all manner of other enriching, brain enhancing tasks!
So – those are some of my favourite ways to keep life interesting for my parents, but I’d love to hear your suggestions – what have you found enriches their environment?