Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ways to Amuse a Toddler While Confined To The Couc

Amusing a two year old while confined to a couch can be something of a challenge. My husband has been a champion shouldering the burden of all the home and childcare the past few weeks while I have been out of commission, so I feel the least I can do is keep our daughter busy sometimes while he is trying to get something else done. Fortunately she is a pretty easy-going and good-natured, although very busy little girl, and we’ve had a lot of fun recently. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

Sesame Street. I know in general TV is not considered optimal for toddlers, but Sesame Street offers an hour a day of distraction and at least she is being shown letters, numbers, problem solving, and pro-social behavior without any commercials during that hour. My daughter loves this and talks about “Abby’s Flying Fairy School” on a regular basis. I feel a little befuddled, to be honest. Many of the Muppet characters I loved as a child seem to have been relegated to a minor status (Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, the Count) and new characters have taken main stage (Elmo, Abby, Zoe, Telly). I haven’t seen Snuffleupagus yet. Sesame Street also seems considerably more “hip” than I remember it being. One episode there was a segment spoofing glee and another they had a spoof of Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger.” Were there pop songs on Sesame Street when I was a child? I can’t recall, but perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed. Anyway, Sesame Street is at least a distraction I can feel minimally guilty about.

Legos. My daughter has quite a lot of these, since my husband and I both remember them fondly from our childhoods. We bought her the chunky Duplo kind that is rated for toddlers. Legos have also been significantly upgraded since I was a child; my daughter has flowers, animals, people, blocks with hinged doors and all kinds of curved blocks. I remember squares, rectangles, one wheeled cart and one long piece in my childhood set; my daughter has those pieces too of course. She’s getting very good at building towers herself but her favorite game is still to get Daddy to build an imposing looking staircase which she then knocks over. I can’t get on the floor to play right now but I’m still good for opening buckets and praising and admiring the creations.

Art. For some reason, a chalkboard and chalk has worked better for our family than crayons. The crayons seem to end up in the mouth whenever we get them out lately and then have to be put away again. Chalk, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to taste so good, so it can stay out. My daughter loves to go to the chalkboard and scribble. When we ask her what she is drawing she tells us “I drawing my friends!” I can’t draw for her on the chalkboard at the moment but I can view her art from the couch and offer applause. I can also sketch things for her using the app on my Kindle which she finds really fascinating for some reason. Although I tried to draw a fish today and was told – that’s not a fish. Oh well, better luck next time Mommy.

 Bouncing on couch cushions. This is a relatively new game in our house, since my husband introduced my daughter to the joys of the local “bouncy gym” a few weeks ago. A “bouncy gym” is a large building with indoor play things including slides and moon bounces set up where for a small fee children can go wild when the weather outside is too cold or wet to permit visits to the park. We don’t allow our daughter to bounce on the furniture in the house, envisioning bumped heads and stitches, but since our furniture is well-worn and shabby we do let her put the couch cushions on the floor and jump on them there, which produces shrieks and giggles. When she gets done jumping she will then lie down on the cushion with her arms hanging off and pretend to swim, and then she will announce she is tired and is taking a nap. The nap part tends to only last for about 20 seconds and then she is up and bouncing again. She is able to get the couch cushions down herself and my role is to supervise and also to sing songs for her while she bounces.

Pretend. I really enjoy my daughter’s imagination. In the course of the day she has  been a dinosaur, a master chef cooking in her kitchen (tortellini was the cuisine du jour), a doctor giving a checkup first to me and then to various of her stuffed animals, and a parent to several of her toys who received time outs for different offenses. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with as she gets older! She is the main actor in these little dramas and she works my husband and I into supporting roles as we are able. Since I have been stuck on the couch I have been an excellent "patient" for her budding medical skills. Since I'm a doctor too I have to confess to a certain amount of delight that she is able to correctly name (and mimic the use of) her otoscope and stethoscope. 

Reading. I’m sure you could have guessed this one. I think I read about 25 books today, although some of them were repeats. It’s incredibly sweet to sit with my daughter nestled on my lap, still and quiet for a short period, while we read rhymes and short stories. At the end of each book she says “one more!” and as a general rule I don’t have the heart to tell her no, enough, we’re done. So on we go. I think she has more books on my Kindle than I do, since I have found that reading is a great on-the-go activity as well, and carrying a Kindle is much lighter than carrying multiple board books.