Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Lazy Mother's Guide to Play

I've noticed something important about myself lately when it comes to playing with Seth. I'm lazy. I would prefer that he play with his toys on his own while I, say, do something like laundry or dishes or read a book.

The goal to get him to play by himself started innocently enough. I knew that he needed time alone to explore or he wouldn't work on getting mobile. Me playing with him was just him sitting there with me, no wiggling, no reaching for something without crying for Mommy to go get it. So I sat back, pretended not to be there so he wouldn't notice me and beg for my attention, and let him have at it.

Now, I've noticed that I'm a little too happy about how well he does this on his own. He's a generally content child, so he's willing to play by himself with me nearby for a good while. And I haven't been as willing to engage him because I've enjoyed being able to do my own thing.

Which leads to this realization that I need to get it together. I wanted to stay at home partially so that I could play with my child, and get to experience his firsts, and teach him things!

So I've set goals for myself to get more involved with play with Seth. I think setting small, manageable goals helps a lot when you're trying to change a habit, whatever that is.

-I have decided that I will read him at least 5 books at a time when I sit down to read with him... instead of just reading one and then rushing off to do something else I've been thinking I need/want to do.

- I will get down on the floor and play blocks/shape sorter/puzzle/whatever with him during each play period (being defined as time up from his nap before the next one).

- I will do some sort of wrestling/physical play/dancing/singing with him during each play period.

When you have a toddler that doesn't toddle, you start running out of creative play ideas quickly, I find. I feel at a loss sometimes for things to do with him, especially at the end of the day when he's easily cranky. Do you moms out there have any good playtime ideas for non-toddling toddlers?

Seth LOVES books. He'd rather read than do anything else when he's tired or bored. And we're noticing that he is getting to the point where he's familiar with books and interacts with them more. When we get to a page where a book asks a question like, "What's small and round?" he'll sometimes say "ball" at the appropriate time.

He has to turn the pages of his books. We pull one out a bit to let him know it's time to turn, and he reaches and turns it. Emphatically. With purpose and forethought. It's funny to see him so intent on it with his little brow furrowed in deep concentration. When a book is done, he closes it and leans over to look at the book basket for another.

When Seth starts to get bored with a book, we try singing it to him before taking it out of the rotation for awhile. This has worked like a charm, even with books that aren't meant to be sung. David is very good at making up crazy tunes that keep him entertained. And if we suspect that a book is supposed to be sung, we look it up on YouTube. We found the tune to "Little White Duck" that way, sung by a very nice Englishman. It made the book much more enjoyable for him.

I was reading him "5 Little Ducks" today, and when I get to the part where Mother Duck says "Quack, quack, quack," I make the motion with one hand. Well, today, he started doing the motion before I even did it myself. It was so gratifying to see how he remembers and enjoys the little extras!

No comments: