Thank you to Brio for partnering with me on this post. (affiliate links may be included)
Summer is here, mommas. Well, for all intents and purposes…most kids are out of school and I keep hearing from other mom friends the continual lament, “What are we going to do this summer?” I want to encourage you that the summer doesn’t have to be a never-ending hoopla of activities, camps, and running to and fro. Remember, we only get 18 summers with our kids. 18! And only the first part of those years are where they are young enough to want to hang out with you as their parents. So let’s make them special and as intentional as possible.
The what to do for summer question takes me back to my childhood and how my mom would have answered that question. Whenever we would say we were bored, she would say something to the effect of, “We have gotten you toys, books, games, decks of cards, bikes, and you’ve got the whole outdoors to explore…go figure it out.”
Growing up, we didn’t have much extra income at our disposal so we thought it was a BIG DAY when we went to the zoo a few times a year, out to eat, or even to the pool. It was a big expense to join our neighborhood pool back then. We also didn’t have an iPad at our disposal obviously and no gaming consoles. We were allowed to watch 1-2 hours of TV a day and that left a lot of downtime.
My 2nd grade teacher told my parents in a classroom report one time, “Heather is always the first one to come up when she completes a project and ask, “What’s next?” My dad and mom thought “Oh, I know…welcome to our life.” 😉 I’ve always loved to be preoccupied and have a strong sense of wanting to work in some capacity that my mom tells me I inherited from my grandfather.
I tell you all this to let you know that if my little busybody self could be satisfied to “figure it out” then your child can too. We want to encourage Leyton to use his imagination, play and entertain himself without us always having to do the work for him. We want him to learn that mom and dad aren’t always going to splurge to keep him entertained every waking moment and that he is not entitled to always have things go his way.
We are well aware that this will not be the popular school of thought in some of those around us and that will make Leyton think that we are being “mean” parents, but we are confident that as believers the Lord has called us to look different from the world. The Lord made a day of rest for a purpose and we want Leyton to know that feeling too.
With all of that as a background, here is some tips we use to help answer the question, “What are we going to do with our toddler this summer?”
How to Entertain a Toddler:
Let them be bored: As I mentioned earlier, being bored will not kill anyone. In fact, it will force your little one to either read if they are old enough or go play on their own and develop their imagination. OR maybe they’ll even start to do some toddler-approved chores!
Make the simple things the highlight of your day: If you aren’t always bussing your kids from activity to activity, they can enjoy the simple things in life more. Kids view the simple things at home or in the yard as SO FUN as long as they are near you. Don’t take that simplistic joy away from them.
Leyton loves to help me dead-head our flowers, water plants, and swing on our swing outside. I love this time because we are outside together and we talk about the cars, birds, dogs, people, and anything else we may hear or see as we are on the front porch. It’s a great adventure for him all from the safety of our yard. I think it also gives him an appreciation for nature and hopefully will help him grow to love gardening and taking care of his own yard one day.
Independent play: Ever since Leyton was a baby, we’ve let him have some time where we are not just holding him. I would let him lay near me on his play mat or in a swing while I worked on the blog. Because we’ve always let him have some time where we intentionally let him play alone, we think that’s what makes him so good at independent play now. In fact, his babysitter has commented on how good he is at independent play. Granted, at this age he doesn’t want us to leave the room. If we do, I’ll hear a “Ma-ma, ma-ma, ma-ma” or “Da-da-da-da” until he finds us or we come back. If we are in sight though, he’s typically happy to run around playing with his balls or cars. Cultivate this in your children so they learn from an early age that they are fully capable of entertaining themselves.
Park, Library, Pool, Walk or Chick-fil-A playground: Sometimes you just need to get out of the house for a change of scenery with a toddler. I totally get that. If that’s the case, I’ll text a neighbor or friend and ask if they want to meet us out somewhere to burn off some toddler energy. I love it when I can kill two birds with one stone by getting in a workout myself while we do this. A walk or the pool are a prime way for me to do this!
Ice cream party: A fun treat for Leyton is anything having to do with berries. He LOVES strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and in fact, will eat a WHOLE container of blackberries in a day if we let him. During the hot spring and summer months, which in Alabama is about all but 3…we sometimes do a treat of berries and a small portion of Brio ice cream.
I like Brio because it is made from calcium-rich, pasture-raised, organic whole milk. Brio is a satisfying way to add smart nutrition to your day. Each creamy serving provides you with 5 to 6 grams of protein. Brio also offers probiotics, antioxidant richness, and healthy Omega 3s, yet it has 40% fewer calories, 20% less sugar and half the fat of super premium ice cream brands. One of our favorite combination so far is the mango ice cream plus raspberries.
Do you have any tips on how to entertain a toddler? I’d love to hear in the comments below because can’t we ALL use more tricks up our sleeves?!