Playing with toddlers can be an exercise in boredom or one of the most breathtaking moments of your life. Or both. Simultaneously.
The enthusiasm of young children is contagious. Watching their genuine delight as they clap their hands and squeal when you make a silly face can be miraculous. The first 20 times. After that, it might be time to pop a Valium.
Below are some tried-and-true tips for playing with toddlers that will (hopefully) allow you to make it through the day without the need for a nap by…hmmm…8:30 am?
DO get down on their level and notice what they are interested in. Rockets? Dinos? Attempting to lick the underside of the coffee table? All activities have their merits and should be investigated.
DON’T feel the need to engage in said activities for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. There is only so much to be gained from the underside of a coffee table, you know.
DO let your guard down and allow yourself to enjoy your child’s imagination.
DON’T be embarrassed when you are discovered drooling and writhing in the dirt at the local park while pretending to be a mutated electric eel being transformed into a psychotropic rainbow-colored dinosaur. Your friends will understand. They have kids too.
DO get some colorful bins and keep the toys sorted into categories. Animals, dolls, trucks, blocks, etc. This will make playtime games and cleanup easier.
DON’T become overly neurotic or fastidious about your toy bins and find yourself organizing and reorganizing them in the middle of the night, followed by a Dewey Decimal system style of storage. (Like some people who cannot help themselves… No, no. Not me. Not me at all. Ahem.)
DO get out of the house to break up the monotony sometimes. There is only so long that you can play hide and seek and monster tag within an 800 square foot apartment.
DON’T feel guilty if you find yourself planning play dates more for yourself than for your children. Mommies need friends too, right?
DO feel free to buy some toys you are personally enthusiastic about playing with. My husband is quite delighted with the remote controlled helicopter he purchased. And the kids even like playing with it sometimes too.
DON’T squirrel away with your favorite toys and hide them from the children. Nobody likes a kid who won’t share.