My son really prefers to dwell within my personal space at all times, and yet he wants to do everything himself. He's two going on three, it's not uncommon. I'm pretty sure if he could figure out how to be glued to my leg and totally independent at the same time, he would be thrilled. Whilst I love all the snuggles, sometimes I'd like to do something without a very large two-year-old leaning into me with all his might. Many of my efforts to release the static cling have been unsuccessful: cool toys, sensory play, art ... all great, as long as mom is sitting next to him. So I've had to get creative. In case you are looking for some unconventional solo play ideas, I thought I'd share them here. Most of these fall into what Montessori followers would call practical life skills. I call them practical life savers.
What sets these activities apart and makes them intriguing (and engrossing) are that they are "grown up" activities, performed with "grown up" tools. In most cases a step stool or kitchen chair are needed, so use your best judgement; I am usually in the same room with him. Safety first! (Fire helmet optional.)
Jude calls this paying bills. He runs "paperwork" through the typewriter and does a lot of highlighting. I pay my bills online and then pass them on to him for "processing." Someday I hope to create a letter writing station like this one, but for now, the novelty of mom's desk and typewriter seem to be doing the trick.
Jude loves to go though things, especially "adult" things. And so "organizing" the pantry was born. First, I stack a number of unbreakable items on the shelf, and then I ask him to grab his stool and get things straightened up. This is especially helpful when I need to get dinner on the table.
3. Watering the garden.
To save water we have a cap on hose time. He can fill several buckets and then use those to water the flowers (and sometimes the concrete). Between the filling of buckets, the transferring to water cans, and the actual watering, this activity buys me some serious free time.
4. Washing dishes.
Or simply washing the sink. Again, water waste is an issue, so once the sink is half full, the faucet goes off. He doesn't wash my best china or anything sharp, but he does a great job rinsing our daily dishes. And if we've beat him to the dishes, the sink can always use a good scrub.
Do you have any good tricks for occupying your little one? Any and all suggestions welcome!