Look, I’ve actually managed to post my Tuesday’s Top 5 on a Tuesday! As always I’m linking in with Liz’s lists who has done the most wonderful list of Australia Day salads. While my list is quite different to hers this week, it does at least tap into the ‘height of summer’ theme and Australia Day is notoriously hot. So with this in mind I thought I’d share my top five ways of occupying a toddler when it’s too hot to play in the backyard. I actually find this time of year more challenging than mid-winter in this respect. In winter you can just rug them up, put on some waterproofs and send them out. Actually a bit of rain and especially some nice puddles make for loads of fun….. and a little washing. The heat on the other hand is just so searingly intense I feel I would be much remiss if I let my girls spend too much time in it unless it is early morning or late afternoon.
1. The top spot actually contradicts what I just said, but my number one is going to the pool (or beach if your lucky) slathered in sunscreen, hats, UV rashies etc. We spend hours at our local leisure center which has a fantastic outside pool/waterslide area designed for little kids. There is a deeper pool at the other end occupied by waterbombing or pashing (in equal numbers) teens so we steer clear of that one. The rest of the outside area is just about heaven for Miss Two, with shallow pools, small waterslides, frogs to sit on and rocks (fake) to climb over. For me it is well designed, well staffed, clean and has lots of shade over both the seating areas and the pools. Baby Good loves just sitting with Mr Good or myself (or a friend brave enough to accompany us) in the shallows, kicking her legs and Miss Two runs and swims herself into exhaustion making for a quiet evening. I would add though that I never attempt this one solo, one adult per child is my rule at this age. If we can’t get to the pool I fill the wading pool under the pergola and this goes some way in entertaining Miss Two, but not for nearly as long as the pool does.
2. Watching one of the Playschool concerts and then using this as inspiration for our own concert. This is a great game as the first part has her in raptures for thirty minutes with or without my attention and the second part keeps her going for at least another half an hour and doesn’t make too much mess. She takes great care in setting up her soft toys on the couch so they can act as the audience, making sure the small ones are at the front so everyone can see. We sit Baby Good in the Bumbo to watch as well and then the show starts. Usually she tells me what songs she wants to sing and I help her with some of the words. Her favourite part is dressing up for each song (just a hat or pair of my heels usually suffices) and doing the dances or actions that go with it.
3. Reading. Thankfully Miss Two is the kind of kid that can sit and read books for a significantly long time. With the weather as it has been the last few days we usually take our places on the couch under the air conditioner and she runs back and forth to her room selecting one book at a time. She often likes them read twice, always asking loads of questions the first time through and then just listening quietly for the second reading. The only time I don’t enjoy this activity so much is when she chooses one Dr Seuss after another – there’s only so many nonsensical rhymes I can read before going a little batty (as much as I love Dr Seuss). baby Good joins in if she’s up – it’s a good, quiet activity to do while she’s sleeping – but she prefers to eat the books or pull Miss Two’s hair so it doesn’t always work.
4. Building a nest for her Jemima Puddleduck toys (three of them) and then acting out the story – minus the attack of the beagles at the end. We’re a bit mad for all things Potter in this house (my dog is called Beatrix) and so she is very familiar with the stories of Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddleduck and all the rest. The nest is made out of a blanket hung between the couch and a dining chair to make a little cave and a doona on the ground to make a ‘nice dry bed’ for the ducks to lay their eggs in and keep them safe from the fox (she hasn’t quite figured out the role of the fox in the story and I’m not about to explain it to her just yet). Again this is positioned strategically under the air conditioning. Obviously this is not a game all children would become so involved in, but the idea of acting out a favourite story could be easily adapted.
5. I’ve pondered this final position for some time. I could be good and write something crafty, but actually we haven’t been doing too much – I get sick of the mess. We have been ‘writing letters’ to friends and family though which has been fun. If I was being really honest I would list watching ABC Kids or DVDs in this last spot, which we do do more in the heat but that’s not very inspiring. So instead I’ve decided to put playing computer games on my laptop as number five. This is not something I thought I would ever let my toddler do, but then reality hit. She is growing up in an age where computers or other similar devices dominant, so I’ve decided to get with the times and embrace the techno age. The games we play are usually from the ABC website and all of them require me to do most of the actual mouse clicking etc. Her hands are just too small and too uncoordinated to manage the moving and pressing of the button at the same time. Actually she thinks my laptop works like an iPad (her great aunt has one she uses quite regularly) so she presses the screen and I quickly hit the mouse button. I’m not sure I would be encouraging computer games of all descriptions, but these ones I find innocent enough and often reasonably educational and obviously appeal to her sense of fun.
And there you have it my Top 5 ways of entertaining toddlers in the heat. We’re off to the beach in Southern NSW in a little over a week and as always the forecast is for rain all week so I might be looking for ways to entertain a toddler when it’s raining in a very small cabin in a caravan park.