Get the Most Out of Your Afternoon Together-Time By Guest Blogger Abigail Sullivan
My daughter stopped napping just before her third birthday. The horror! At first I tried to fight it by bribing her with treats if she went to sleep. Then I experimented with quiet time in her room for an hour. Finally, I gave in and accepted the reality. My daughter will be awake for at least 12 hours straight everyday. I had better prepare myself.
As it turns out, this new block of time we have together is pretty great. Her little sister is still napping so 1pm-3pm has become our together-time. In fact, I often remind her of this in the morning or at lunch time if things start to go downhill. “I have a special activity for you today during together-time while the baby naps!” Our time together is spent doing the usual cuddling with library books, chatting while coloring, or my favorite… learning activities!
You do not have to be a trained teacher to have fun teaching your toddler or preschooler. There are so many resources online to support you as you experiment with teaching them. Actually, part of the problem for many moms is the absurd volume of resources online. I rarely use Pinterest and have cut my Instagram inspiration down to those who do things in the most basic way. I’m delighted to share my tips with you!
Find a way to bond: Choose an activity that you both like and can enjoy together. It might be coloring, building, reading, talking, or moving. My daughter loves crafts and that is definitely an activity I can get behind. Over time we’ve added more interesting supplies to our craft caddy and I take way to much pleasure in using and organizing her markers and crayons.
Meet your child where they are: Pay attention to what they like to do, need to do, and can do. I want together-time with my daughter to be enjoyable for her, a way for her to relax after her morning at school, and something that it at the right level for her. For example, my daughter likes using art supplies and especially likes to use them with me in a peaceful way. It seems to be a way for her to recharge as she works away at a project and chats along with me. I’ve also noticed that lately she is ready for early learning activities. Working with numbers and letters has become fun for her and I’m trying to build on her new skills and interests.
Do something that comes easily to you: Since I’m a teacher I lean towards activities that have a learning or creative component. Yet, do what works for you! Music, sports, whatever. I can tell that my daughter feeds off of my excitement for an activity. I call it together-time because it is a time that is fun for both of us, not just my child.
Short, sweet, and simple: In all honesty, I still have a lot to get done while the baby naps. So our together-time is usually around 30 minutes. I find that a half hour or so of bonding can buy me a good hour of independent time. She is either set up with an activity to continue with on her own or our structured project ends and she is sent off to play with toys. Together-time is certainly special, but she also needs time to herself everyday for open-ended play.
Are you looking for links to some very doable learning activities with your toddler and preschooler? Check out my favorite websites. Some of them have ideas for engaging activities with toys or junk that you already own. Others have printable games, crafts, or activities. I like following them on instagram and click the “save” flag to remind myself of a good idea. I also subscribe to their website’s newsletters to have seasonal and holiday ideas sent to me weekly. Easy peasy!
Abigail Sullivan is originally from Hingham but currently lives in Cohasset with her husband and two beautiful young girls, Isla (4) and Fiona (2). Abigail worked as an elementary classroom and reading teacher for nine years. She also taught graduate classes in reading specialty while working on an Ed.D. in Curriculum, Teaching, Leading, and Learning. If you missed her Meet a Mom feature, check it out.