Tuesday, July 23, 2013
10 Things My Kids Enjoy Doing Together
Leo and Zoe are already moving towards being great playmates, but just a few short months ago I remember being stumped about what activities they might both enjoy. They've gotten along great since the beginning, but two years difference is significant when you are one and three years old. As time passes the age span will hardly matter but until they even out a bit more in capabilities and interests it's good to have a few go-to activities that keeps both their interests.
1. Water Play - From the bathtub, to an inflatable pool on the porch, to an outing to a kiddie pool or sprayground, both kids have a blast in the water. It's an activity that requires close supervision, but it's worth it to have both kids playing happily side by side.
2. Bubbles - What kid doesn't love bubbles? Leo and Zoe both love to chase and pop bubbles. Leo is just beginning to want to be the one blowing the bubbles, so he is also entertained with a bubble wand (I just make sure to have two wands so I can keep some bubble action going for Zoe - since Leo's rate of successful bubble blowing is still fairly low.)
3. Sensory Play - I've found they do well with sand, moon dough and foam textured sensory materials. These are good because Zoe is less likely to try and eat them and Leo is less likely to try and build something elaborate (like he would with modeling clay- which his sister would proceed to grab and squish...or eat).
4. Music - Whether it's playing instruments (Zoe plays a mean tambourine), singing, or listening and dancing - both kids get in on the action whenever music is involved. Family band is one of the first games Leo and Zoe really played together and it's still a favorite. Basically everyone in the family gets an instrument and someone sings a song to the (chaotic) accompaniment.
5. Outside/Walks - Since Zoe was a newborn this was my go-to make-everyone-happy activity. Taking lunch out on to the porch or sitting in the grass can turn a tough day around. Both Leo and Zoe love going for a walk. One kid in the stroller and one kid in the Ergo - or these days we are using the double stroller more - and they are both calm and content...sometimes they will even both fall asleep.
6. Simple Games - This is a newer development - but they are beginning to play simple games together. Rolling a ball back and forth or Ring Around The Rosie. These are games that ordinarily Leo might find boring, but if I make a big deal about him being the teacher and how well Zoe is learning these new skills from him, he gets really into it. He LOVES being the teacher - and he's quite good at it.
7. Swinging - Both kids have adored swinging since they have been able to (mostly) sit up. Finding two swings next to each other at the playground is a sure fire way to keep them both happy for a while. I can push them both at the same time and they both giggle and shriek with delight.
8. Reading - Thankfully Leo still enjoys books aimed at toddlers so I can read shorter board books to both of them and hold their attention. This one is great because it's a seated, low energy activity - and can lead to a spontaneous nap.
9. Play Kitchen - Abi gave Leo his play kitchen for his first birthday and not only was it a huge hit then, it has continued to be a favorite ever since. As soon as Zoe could stand with support she was right there with him sorting through felt food and mixing imaginary soups. Leo's kitchen play style isn't as rigid as some of his other pretend play - so he doesn't mind Zoe getting in on the action. Only having one spatula was a point of contention, but now that we have two things are honky dory.
10. Snack - This might be cheating (distracting with food feels like a cop out), but when they just can't seem to get along in the play room, we move to the kitchen and share a snack. Maybe it's the physical separation into different chairs, maying it's the change of scene, maybe they were just hungry...who knows - but a snack break is often better than a time out for resetting sibling bickering.
Leo does still get frustrated when he wants to do something that is disrupted by his baby sister, but that's why we've designated Zoe's nap time as big kid time. When it's time for me to put Zoe down for a nap I tell Leo that he can choose a big kid activity to do while she's resting. This not only keeps him quiet and happy while Zoe is falling asleep, but also encourages him to play independently and have some time to himself. He's grateful to work on some of his more complex hobbies without interference.
Popular choices include play dough, building towers with blocks, painting, drawing or playing with a toy or game that has smaller parts - like a puzzle or his airplane that has screws and a screwdriver to take it apart. His attention span is getting longer and longer and he will sometimes sit engrossed in his task for the entirety of Zoe's nap. By the time she wakes up he's ready to dive back in to sibling play again.