Monday, June 16, 2014

Toddler Time-Sucks

I've been asked quite a bit how and what L does when I'm nursing B.  Like everything with two year olds, the "how" varies drastically hour by hour -- sometimes she's an angel and couldn't care less my attention is elsewhere, and sometimes it's DEFCON 1 Nuclear Meltdown.  Of course the "what" also changes constantly, but if she's not already engrossed in something else, I've found a few almost-surefire distractions that don't involve busting out the iPad or flipping on the TV.*

All of these activities will keep L's attention for 10-15 minutes or longer.  Some much longer {STICKERS! THANK GOD FOR STICKERS!}.  And most are also great for the car or plane {I am really pulling for Lisa Frank to help get us through our upcoming 3 hour flight to Jackson Hole}.  


Water Wow & Paint with Water Books - A few IG friends told me about Water Wow, and I think it was Samma who first mentioned the Paint w/ Water books -- Praise the Interweb Friends, because these both get major play in our household!  I love the Water Wow in particular as it requires no setup on my part {I leave the pen full of water, and L can easily get it out of it's little window and get crackin' by herself}, is mess-free for travel, and it's interactive {"can you find 3 dog bones in that picture?"}.  I think the number and letter tracing varieties will be great practice when she's little bit older, too!


When I ordered the Paint with Water Books, I was expecting the kind I played with as a girl -- where you literally paint just with water and the colors appear on the paper {magic!}.  Be warned: this is not that.  Each of these painting pages have a little dried paint palette at the top, so it's really more like a more self-contained version of actual watercolors.  Still fun for toddlers, but it requires a quick setup {and a potential mess to clean up} on your part.


Reusable Sticker Books - We have a ton of these, and they are L's absolute favorite.  You can pretty much find any theme your kid happens to be into if you do a little digging {B&N has a really good selection}.  Some of them are more interactive than others in the sense that particular stickers are supposed to go on particular pages {Llama Llama Birthday Party Sticker Stories, Elmo's World Super Sticker Book} and some are more "put these damn stickers wherever the heck suits your little fancy" {The Barnyard Read-and-Play Sticker BookMadeline sticker & Activity BookLadybug Girl Sticker BookAnimal Habitats Reusable Sticker Pad}.  One thing I've discovered is manufacturers have different ideas about what "reusable" means... Some of them should really just be a one-and-done operation {Llama Llama and Elmo, I'm looking at you} as the stickers are either prone to ripping or they lose their stickiness if you try to move them around after the initial placement.  For $2-4, they are definitely worth the cash if your kiddo loves those characters {that Elmo book in particular is massive -- we've probably spent 5 hours total playing with the stickers and several more just looking at the book in the car}, but the "reusable" descriptive is a stretch. 


Stickers in General - Duh. I know I'm not reinventing the wheel here in any form or fashion {with any of these ideas, really}, but cheapie stickers + construction paper = toddler bliss.  I buy most of our stickers at the Target dollar spot.  L does a pretty good job remembering that we only stick stickers on paper or on ourselves, but our house is still littered with tiny rainbow-colored ice cream treats and sparkly unicorns.  It's a small price to pay for quiet time, methinks. 


"Gluing Stuff" - L loves glue sticks.  And once we hammered home the fact that glue sticks are not just really, really big Chapsticks, we were in business for Ultimate Toddler Crafting Fun: "Gluing Stuff."  I spend 5 minutes a few times a week cutting out random things from junk catalogs, throw them in an empty wipes container with a glue stick, and hand her a piece of construction paper when the mood to glue strikes her.  EZ, PZ.  I have found the colored glue sticks work best for tiny people since it's easier for them to see where they are gluing, which means less sticky cleanup for me. 


"Can You Take a Picture of..." - My sweet friend Erin sent L this Plan Toys Camera as a Big Sister Gift so she could take photos of her new baby brother.  She loooooves this thing, and we've made a little "I spy" type game out of it where I ask her to take pictures of things around the house.  It's a great game to practice colors and shapes as well {"can you take a picture of something green?"}.  The Plan Toys camera is adorable and so well made {Germans know their toys, I tell ya}, but an old-school disposable would work great for this game, too. 

What are your favorite Toddler Time Sucks?  Any other games or toys you whip out when you need a few free minutes? 

*Screen time is one of those things about which I staunchly remain an Asshole Parent. We watch one 30 minute show on the weekdays, usually right before dinner when we're both beat.  We rarely turn on the tube when the kiddos are awake on the weekends.  And we don't do any apps unless it's a special situation such as We're On An Airplane & Don't Want Everyone to Hate Us.  Or OMG Could the Pediatrician Take Any Longer?  With ADHD in our family, I find the studies advocating for super limited screen time to be pretty damn compelling, but I've also discovered the more TV L watches, the more behavioral problems we have.  Basically, for us personally, it's just not worth it. And so ends my Maybe Pretentious & Probably Unnecessary Footnote. 

**Amazon links are affiliates, but none of these products are sponsored or freebies. 

18 comments:

  1. I really need to try the "gluing stuff" idea. I also hadn't seen the Water Wow, but that looks like a game changer. Our dollar store is my sticker go to spot. FYI, they have a lot of Lisa Frank :)

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  2. I read this as "Toddler Time SUCKS" instead of "Time Sucks". I would have loved reading that post, too :)

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    1. Uh oh. I probably need a hyphen. But future post topic has been noted as well ;)

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  3. You are a genius. I need to try this glue stick idea. (The chapstick warning is noted and appreciated.) I think Blaire would love that! The reusuable sticker books sound great too. What the hell is with toddlers and stickers? Kid crack.

    The paint with water books you mentioned where you just dip the brush in the water and paint the page and color "appears" still exist. I found some by Melissa & Doug at Target. I've found they're a lot less messy than the kind with the paint at the top. The toddler has, of course, found that they're therefor not quite as much fun. But they'll still get you 10 minutes of quiet without 20 minutes of clean up. :)

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    1. Okay, totally scoping out Target for the water paint books -- I have really vivid memories of those as a kid, and who doesn't love an almost mess-free art project?! (the toddlers, that's who...sigh)

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  4. Yes! Gluing Stuff is the best toddler activity! So, so many teaching opportunities, and also the perfect solution for "OMG one of us is not going to make it to dinner time."

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  5. I grew up in a limited TV household, I implemented the same constraints with my kids. Now, in the day of i-whatevers, I'd do the same.

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  6. Bookmarking this for ideas for my 3 year old when Baby #2 arrives this August. A toddler activity that I stumbled upon right before a 3.5 hour flight are the My First Sticky Mosaics kits (http://www.amazon.com/My-First-Sticky-Mosaics%C2%AE-Pets/dp/B001THPZMQ/ref=zg_bs_2488757011_1). Oh my goodness!! These were a HUGE hit. My son probably spends a solid 45 minutes working on these whenever we pull them out.

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  7. I was totally going to ask how you manage to NOT resort to TV and iPad time, but your disclaimer at the bottom makes perfect sense - although I'm sure it makes managing two a lot harder! Props to you for all of those fun activities!!

    My favorite "montessori" activity for distracting two year olds is a bunch of magnets and a cookie sheet. ;)

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  8. These are GREAT! Thanks for posting! Tucking them away for when #2 makes her appearance in a few months. My 3 year old LOVES puzzles...is crazy for them and will spend a solid 10-15 minutes doing the same one three times. I've started to collect new puzzles that progress a little in difficulty to bring out once the babe arrives. Another thing that keeps his attention oh, so well with minimal cost/prep/clean-up? Cutting paper. Toddler-safe scissors and a stack of trash mail or printer paper and he's golden for 20ish minutes. Also...dollar stores typically are have great, cheap finds.

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  9. these are FABULOUS IDEAS!!! I'm totally going to use some of these with Elyse in the near future! I've been a little afraid for using glue sticks, but with Elyse's love for stickers I'm sure she'd love gluing things as well!

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  10. Thank You for these ideas! We are right with you on the tv/adhd train. We tried some apps for a week and I saw a huge negative impact on behavuor, there were no winners. We also have a zero food dye thing that drives other people nuts, I'm just a big weirdo B hahaha. Thanks again for the ideas.

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  11. These are really good ideas. We use a few of these already, but I just purchased glue sticks this weekend and my son is dying to "glue stuff" and I was at a bit of a loss for what to give him. The catalog idea is great. Also, we have a cross-country flight in our near future and my two-year-old will go nuts over a Llama, Llama sticker book.

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  12. Thank you so much for these ideas. My two year old sees the big, green breast feeding pillow (for twins) and knows I'm trapped so he gets into ALL THE THINGS! Last week I watched in horror as he climbed up onto the kitchen counter, picked up my milkshake, and slowly poured it all over my rug.
    Besides terrorism his favorite activities are stacking items...cubes, blocks, books...anything. Although after about 5 minutes those blocks usually act as flying ammunition.

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  13. We love the water wonder books from Crayola. I think it's the same idea as the water wow. Can I just say, genius on the gluing business?! Will be utilizing that trick shortly. We try to limit the iPad usage to death con 5 (usually on a plane) and I think it helps keep it novel and as a tantrum saver.

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  14. Thanks for all of your tips- (I was one of the ones who asked.) We have had success with "hiding the cheerio" - a game that has saved me from running after my 21 month old with boobs flying in public. The B.toys remote control car has also been a hit, as well as pipe cleaners in the oatmeal container do-it-yourselfer.

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  15. The Water Wow was such a big hit with my little guy on a recent car trip. Thanks for pointing it out!!

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happy little comments!