Toodle is our first everything. Whatever K-Hubs and I don’t know about child development, poor Toodle will probably be the one to enlighten us. While Twinkle will undoubtedly give us huge surprises, too, it’s like we already know to expect the surprises, so we handle them better. I caught her eating out of the trash (something Toodle never did), and I just said, “Umm, yeah, maybe don’t do that again. Mmm ’kay.”
Twinkle, go give your big sister a big hug because we are learning on her and are generally calmer with you.
For example, no one told me I would lose the will to live when heat indexes and windchills ensure we are stuck indoors FOR DAYS, cooped up and loving each other’s close proximity whether we really want to or not. Also, I never gave serious thought to fine motor skills and gross motor skills because they weren’t mentioned in the handbook I didn’t get from the hospital.
I never gave much thought to having 45 activities lined up for a 15-minute period because surely kids will love playing outdoors. No joke, mine love to run alongside cars, flailing their arms, shouting, “Hiiiiiiiiii” to whomever is behind the wheel. For this particular one four years back, I actually called K-Hubs at work and said, “Toodle just tried to chase a car. I thought she’d chase butterflies in the backyard. I was wrong. I’m going to Michael’s. They have schlock on sale.” Serious as a heart attack. And normally I don’t do craft lists because I don’t follow the directions when I do them, and for as much as I love crafting, many of my crafts turn out “unique.” Or as my friends have heard me say countless times, “That one will be a template.” However, I bare my soul to you. I love to craft and do projects, but I like to color outside the lines.
I love you and I don’t want you to lose the will to live when your kids are 10 seconds into an activity and say in a voice reminiscent of someone who has lost clothing, shelter, food, and water, “Now what can we do?” Run around the outside perimeter of the house and then run the perimeter of the trees in our backyard. Make sure to touch each one. Time yourself. Get back to me on that one. Okayloveyoubye! (I actually did this once.)
Here’s my go-to list when I tattle to God that Mother Nature isn’t playing nice.
Finger paint packs.
Have I ever told you how much we crush on our local zoo? They have amazing children’s programs full of hands-on activities that I then steal for home. This is one of them. Cut a sheet of copy paper to fit inside a plastic baggie. The zoo used larger baggies, but we had smaller ones on hand, and it worked just fine. Pour paint into the baggie ON TOP of the paper. Seal tightly and affix to the table with tape. Go to town tracing letters or whatever it is you want to do.
Twinkle got in on this action, too. I die.
Yes, we’re in the rain for this one because I cannot even with heat and then cold and then sleet and then rain and then clouds. And, yes, I tasked Toodle with washing my car last summer. What? Fine motor skills development, as recommended by Toodle’s preschool teacher. We take homework seriously in this house. Rain won’t stop us from getting it done.
Shaving cream in a pie tin
Just everything with the shaving cream, okay? Keep it close and your towels closer. Trace letters in shaving cream. Mix food coloring in the tin and make all sorts of colors. The options are endless, and they keep spirited kiddos busy for what feels like hours (but is probably more like A LOT of minutes).
I’m keeping these close for Twinkle, who is starting to amp up her spiritedness. She’s already getting in on the action, because, duh, she’s not really 21 months old. She is 5 1/2 like her sister. Obviously.
Baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring
Where to even start with this one? We love doing science projects in this house because they keep little hands busy. We dropper vinegar and food coloring onto a mound of baking soda. Keeps Toodle busy for a whole 10 minutes!
WORD OF WARNING: don’t pour the mixture onto your grass when you’re done. I sort of did that once, and we have a circle in our yard where the grass is still trying to grow. Toodle keeps asking why the dirt spot is STILL there after ALL THIS TIME. Thanks, kid, for noticing.
This one is finicky, but Toodle never cared. I add a little water at a time to a large bowl of baking soda and let her go to town. The more water you add, the soupier it gets, so add water carefully. A few summers ago, Toodle got bored with it, and I wasn’t ready for her to be done. I added a piece of tin foil and told her we were in space. Added a whole 10 minutes. Booyah!
BONUS: Stress balls
Omigod! Because sometimes I just want to say, “STOP MOVING!!!!!!! For the love, stop moving. Go grab a stress ball and channel those wiggle shakes!” We got on the subject of alopecia, and Toodle said, “My stress ball has hair like I do!!” Bless her every loving heart. Yes, he does. I bought these straight from Oriental Trading Company. Since Toodle likes to wiggle while she learns, we are encouraging her to keep one of these close. Our friends’ son keeps one close by at school because he is Toodle’s twin. In fact, his mom was the one who said, “Here use one of ours to get started.” Bless. I love moms who share life hacks about raising kids.