In the last few weeks we have had a good amount of time as a whole family at home. Some of it intentional other because of seasonal sickness. As it now gets dark and cold earlier, it can be difficult to find activities to entertain Z.
We have a very large cardboard box in the living room from a recent milk crates delivery. We decided to get out some balloons and use this box as first a goal for soccer, then a hoop for basketball.
After a few minutes of this, I decided to get out a few indoor balls so we could all play. Our next game: using brooms to move the balls around like hockey-with the cardboard box acting as the goal.
When the interest in these activities ended, L and I racked our brains for other things we could with the balls. L suggested using solo cups if we had any to set up as bowling pins. As it turns out, our hallway turned into a perfect bowling alley. Z is still learning the concept behind many of these games and wanted to knock down the pins with his hands.
As our hour of fun came to a close, Z suggested hide and seek. Normally I roll my eyes at this as usually Z where Z wants to hide AND seek each round when playing only with mom. But with both parents we were able to trade off one of us hide with Z then the other would seek with him.
I know how easy it is to feel pressured to provide planned activities and fun for our children. The “ideas” and “inspiration” is everywhere. But I find if I stuff our schedule full of these types of activities we have less fun then what we “should be” having based on social media.
I feel rushed to pack it all up, get us out the door, get to our destination on time, then there is no guarantee the behavior or reaction of a toddler-whether he will even enjoy said “fun” activity. Then there are meltdowns, tantrums, “time-in” talking moments. Parents walk away exhausted and emotionally frayed: toddler does too. That in reality is no fun.
But as I thought back on this evening at home, I realized how grateful I was for simple play-for simple fun. All we used were boxes, cups, balloons, brooms, balls, and our imagination. Things we had around the house. It cost us nothing but our time and energy. We didn’t have to research, plan, pack, drive or anything else. The boredom lead to creativity. There were no meltdowns. We ALL walked away feeling like we had had real fun.
So, what does our toddler actually need? He doesn’t need 20 planned activities a week that have us running around town like a taxi. What he really wants is our undivided attention: to play with his parents. Simple fun play.
As we look to the darker, colder, more “in” months of winter-what do you do to have simple fun?