Long Afternoons of Flying Solo

Autumn 2013 002

Chaos. Again.

The moment has come.  My husband has flown off to a week-long conference on the other side of the country and I am here.  With both children.  By myself.  It’s not the days that have me anxiously awaiting his return but rather the afternoons.  Specifically from 4PM to 8PM each day.

I often refer to this chunk of time as, “The Nightmare”.   It’s the time of day when everyone needs to eat (often repeatedly), everyone needs to be cleaned up (often repeatedly), and everyone needs to be soothed about something (often repeatedly) and then put to bed (often repeatedly).  By the time all of this takes place and bedtime finally comes into play at 8PM I have usually lived through most of the classic nightmare symptoms- the shakes, the chills, the ragged breathing, and I come out of the whole thing saying, “Oh that was so horrible.  Thank God I’m awake!”

Autumn 2013 003

Discovering the googly eyes.

Then I settle in to washing the dishes, collecting the dirty socks scattered about (where do they all come from?), feeding the dog, and looking for some chocolate.  This was not always my life but it is my life right now.  So while my husband is away I have one plan of attack during the Nightmare; keep them busy.

Autumn 2013 021

Veda the spider

When one of your children is a toddler (short attention span) and one of them is an infant (no attention span) this is quite challenging.  Thankfully today I rediscovered the book 365 Things to Make and Do Right Now from Parragon Books.  I opened it during a brief lull and found a page dedicated to making Halloween decorations.  Perfect.  Now they weren’t exactly difficult decorations.

Autumn 2013 020

Jada the bat

All I actually needed was for somebody to say to me, “Hey dummy, why don’t you make some Halloween decorations to pass the time?” The book essentially did that for me.  We now have several ghosts, a spider, and a bat hanging from our track lighting.

Autumn 2013 005

Sharing peas with the ghosts

Autumn 2013 006

In order to fill up the time until dinner we also rubber-stamped some cards, used our homemade playdough (recipe here) and played Potato Heads.

Autumn 2013 001Autumn 2013 025

I lasted another afternoon without throttling my 2 year old, and I kept the kids so busy that at least for today we sailed through on pleasant dreams.

How do you keep your toddler busy?Autumn 2013 015

2 thoughts on “Long Afternoons of Flying Solo

  1. Keeping a basic routine helped us. And there was always this time of day when toddler would get just- cranky. THAT was “take a walk” time of day. Right before dinner making. We would look for a “gift from nature” to bring home with us and arrange on the nature table (toddler arrangements of course). Or bring home some rocks to paint and stick eyes on.

    I rotated their toys, so some they wouldn’t see for months, then it was all new again.

    I set out an “art project” every day, which was open-ended. Meaning, I put out a combination of elements (not the entire art supply kit and kaboodle), like white paper cut into a simple “lake” shape, colored dot stickers, and three colors of markers. I’d announce “art time”! And they would come running, draw and work away, then show off their creations. It didn’t require my help, and simple clean up. Another one was one egg yolk, one paint brush, glitter to throw on top. (Oh and one “art time” shirt to put on over clothes).

    Afternoon sand box, followed by bath, which was just off the kitchen, so I could make dinner and talk to the kid at the same time. He sat with the shower nozzle on the tub floor, turned on low and water draining, so i was warm and fun and not messy or dangerous.

    Pepper can put on puppet shows for you and baby Finn. She can make some puppets herself out of sandwich bags or socks.

    Are you a no tv family? I didn’t let mine watch much at all, but loved the LIttle Bear series.

    Flower arranging (age 2 and up). Stick some oasis in a bowl. Go out and pick a little basket full of flowers, herbs, mint sprigs, twigs. Wet the oasis and let the toddler go at it arranging! The only “rule” is to try to make it so you can’t see any of that green oasis when you are done. They create the most amazing things!

    We always cooked together. The kids would stand on a chair at the counter and had defined roles to rotate (or they would argue) of prep chef, and mix master. Toddlers LOVe to wash things at the sink: doll clothes, plastic tea set, containers.

    OH! And I kept a bottom drawer in the kitchen for them when they were crawlers/toddlers, with safe things to play with in the kitchen. I’d drop new things in often. They LOVED their drawer. (wood spoon, containers, big bead necklace, odd kitchen things). I had the “johny jump up” in the kitchen door way too for the baby. And a paint station on the wall for the toddler. I remade a plastic table cloth, into a wall covering with built in pockets for small (yogurt) paint cups, and nailed a large clipboard to the wall over the plastic. I gave only 2-3 paint colors for a session, and a brush for each color. Toddlers love to wash their own brushes too.

    Everything takes longer when cooking with toddlers, but my boys LOVED being in the kitchen with us and they still do! They love to cook, mix, create, decorate, and hang in the kitchen.

    Don’t bother tryng to have alone time or any uninterrupted thoughts while your kids are this age. Doesn’t happen. There will come a day when you can potty alone, and they will do cool stuff like wash their own hands and put on their own shoes and coats. It’s a miracle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s