Fun Indoor Activities that Both You and Your Kids Will Love

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It’s been a long, hot, and rainy summer in sunny Florida. We’ve been spending a lot more time inside in the air conditioning than I’d like to admit. Luckily, my kids don’t seem to mind too much.  As I wrote about in my last post, I sometimes have a hard time remaining present with my kiddos. I also really enjoy and try to prioritize having playtime with my children. Given this, I’ve had to find activities that both my kids and I enjoy so that I can remain present with them. It’s taken some time and experimentation to figure out what these are – and they definitely change from time to time. 

Fun Indoor Activities that Both You and Your Kids Will LoveRead More: 7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom

Right now, we’re keeping our playtime pretty basic.  We’ve tried a lot of different activities and have bought and been gifted many different toys.  The activities that I’ve listed are ones that we keep coming back to.  Plus, they’re ones that I don’t get bored of too easily- which makes a big deal! As the seasons change in our hometowns up north, I know many of you will be looking for good indoor activities in those cold winter months. Hopefully some of these will also be basic, but fun activities that both you and your kids will love.

1) Reading

Reading is one of our favorite pastimes in the Bird household. Both my husband and I are big readers, and it’s something that we want to pass onto our children. Luckily they seem to have caught the reading bug! Because reading is something both the kiddos and I enjoy, it’s an easy redirect from any activity that I keep looking at my phone during.  I like to let my toddler pick out which books she wants to read and then huddle up on the couch for awhile. My 11mo will beebop around the room while we read, or sometimes he’ll hunker down with us for a chunk of time.  He’s just getting to the point that he’ll also sit down to several good board books as well. Some of the ones that have been keeping his attention lately are:

Read More: Fostering a Love of Books from an Early On

2) Painting

My toddler never says no to painting. While this is an activity that requires a little more work on my part, I also find that I really enjoy crafting and, therefore, stay more present during this type of activity. I’m not really a Pinterest mom and haven’t pulled any special looking crafts off yet. Instead, I just set her up with a “palette” of paint, some paper, a cup of water, and a variety of paintbrushes, and she goes to town. I keep it easy on me and fun for her. I haven’t attempted any painting with my 11mo but I might try out this edible paints recipe soon! With my toddler, I’m a big fan of the washable paints linked below (they come out of her clothes when she inevitably gets some on them). We usually will just use pages out of coloring books or some printer paper we have laying around to keep it really easy. Some of her works of art we save and send to family and others go straight to the recycling bin when they dry!

3) Play-Doh

Play-Doh is another activity that my toddler enjoys that I also enjoy.  This is also a really good activity when I need to do some things around the house! I enjoy playing with it too, so I end up joining in at some point.  She received some Play-Doh tools and cutters as a gift last Christmas, and we’ve been putting them to good use recently.  At some point, a bunch of small dinosaurs from the Dollar Store also ended up with the Play-Doh, and now it’s a joint activity with them being her main characters.  We can spend a good chunk of time making different animals, creating a scene, or just rolling it creating “green beans.” Awhile back, I made this edible playdough recipe that I need to make some more of soon so that Charlie can start playing with us too! 

4) Kitchen Pretend Play

I enjoy doing pretend play when it’s more modeled after real life.  My husband is much better at creating crazy scenes and playing them out with the kids, but I’m just not there yet. Instead, I like to do real life pretend things like cooking in their play kitchen and having a picnic with their picnic things. For awhile, my toddler was doing cupcake parties for all of her stuffed animals and it was so sweet. I just had to sit back and “eat” cupcakes while she did all of the work- my favorite kind of play! My 11mo also is very into our toy kitchen, though it’s mostly to just pull things out of it and slam the doors. Either way, it’s been a really good addition to our play and an activity that both the kids and I enjoy. It looks like the set of food we got isn’t available anymore, but I really like the quality of the Learning Resources Brand listed below. I’ve also added a bunch of old utensils and dishes from our kitchen that we weren’t using anymore!

5) Musical Instruments

Some days I curse myself for getting musical instruments for the kids and some days I thank myself. Lately, it’s been more of the latter.  My youngest is really into music, so it’s been really fun to watch him experiment with making different sounds with the shakers or to try to hit the hammer on the xylophone.  He also is very into singing “Ah” into containers, so we’ve included some random ones in our musical instrument bin. My toddler also loves them and will hand one out to everyone in the family (plus some stuffed animal friends) to play a song together- usually the ABC’s of which she sings. Other times, we’ll turn on some music and play along with it. It’s a really fun activity to watch and be a part of with my kiddos.

6) Practicing New Motor Skills

This is one of my biggest go to’s right now, as my little guy is riiiiight on the edge of walking. We’ve been having a lot of fun coaxing him to walk toward us. I’m a big fan of the milestones, so if we’re on the edge of one, I’m way better at remaining present and wanting to catch every movement. It’s also a fun thing to get my toddler to be a part of.  She has been saying “Come Here, Charlie” whenever we want him to crawl back to us (especially when he’s running away during a diaper change). Now, she’s learned to say that when I’m trying to get him to walk off the couch to me. She’s very excited for him to start walking so that they can play more together! We’ve done this at every stage- including the toddler’s jumping and spinning which she’s a big fan of now!

7) Puzzles

My toddler had a span where she was very very into puzzles. I think we overdid the ones we had, so she’s been out of them for a little bit.  I’m thinking about rotating some back in this week though! Puzzles are definitely an activity that I can get behind, as I love to do them myself. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to not be able to hop right in and help her. Or she gets sick of it halfway through, and pieces get scattered everywhere. Even so, I love to watch her little brain work as she figures out how the pieces fit together.  We also have a Melissa and Doug knob puzzle that my little guy likes to pull all of the pieces out of, and, if I’m lucky, the toddler will put them back in!

8) Blocks

Blocks have been a great activity for both my little guy and my toddler lately. Both of them LOVE to knock over towers. My toddler will sometimes spend a good chunk of time building a tower and then knock it over either herself or with her Godzilla stuffed toy her daddy got her. My son will make a beeline for any tower he sees as he is all about destruction right now.  I enjoy making semi-elaborate towers- if I get a chance to get them high enough- so it’s a fun activity for both the kids and I.  We’ve been really into our wood blocks recently (the same ones I had as a kid!), but we’ve also had spans of time that my toddler has enjoyed playing with the Mega Blocks (or color blocks as she calls them).  I’m thinking about looking into either Duplos or Magnatiles for our toddler’s Christmas present this year to add to our building supplies!

These are just some of the activities that both the kids and I are enjoying right now.  There are obviously so many more that I could list!  As they change developmentally, the activities and toys that they are interested keep changing, but these are the basic ones that we keep coming back to again and again.  I’d love to hear about any activities that both you and your kids enjoy!  Comment below or chat with us on Facebook or Instagram

Fun Indoor Activities that Both You and Your Kids Will Enjoy

Read More: Yes Spaces- Why are they important? 

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I’m Saying No Less to my Toddler- What I’m Saying Instead

I’m on a journey to start saying no less to my kiddos. I didn’t realize how often I was saying it until Nora started to repeat my “No, Charlie, no!” as he rushed anything that I didn’t want him to go toward.  (Isn’t it fun when your children start mirroring you?) I read recently that the average one year old hears “no” more than 400 times a day, and I thought that that couldn’t be true. But then I thought about the fact that it’s not usually one no that screeches out of my mouth when Charlie gets into the toilet or Nora tries knocking Charlie over, it’s usually a tirade of no no no no no no!  So that stat doesn’t really surprise me anymore. 

Hearing only negative words, like no, stop, or don’t, can impact a child’s brain and frame of mind.  While there is definitely a time and place for saying no or stop, I don’t want to overuse these words to the point that they become ineffective or hurt my children’s psyches.  I want to help my kids grow up into positive and creative adults, something that could be limited by only hearing no all the time.  As I’ve talked about before, I’ve started this journey by creating yes spaces that they can explore without me having to say stop constantly.  I’ve also been analyzing my own reasons for saying no- is it because I’m being lazy and not wanting to be present or is it actually something they shouldn’t be doing? Most importantly, I’ve been working on the language that I’ve been using with them on a daily basis.  This has required some changes on my part, but I’ve seen great results, especially in my 2.5 year old! Here are some of the tactics I’ve been employing to start saying no less.

Say No Less to Your Toddler | Create a positive environment for your children through positive parenting and saying no less.  #GentleParenting #PositiveDiscipline #yesmom #positiveparenting

 

Redirect, Redirect, Redirect

Redirection is the only tactic I’ve really found to work in the just becoming mobile stage of development that Charlie is in, and it also works with my toddler too. Instead of yelling “No, no, no” at Charlie as he gets into the recycling or grabs the cat, I can physically get up and remove him from the situation.  I can also quickly think of something more exciting to entice him to turn around and come back my way, though this is just in the beginning stages of working. In the infant stage, they aren’t able to be reasoned with and are getting into things by way of exploration, not to make somebody angry (thought it doesn’t feel like it sometimes!). Therefore, physical redirection is the best way to refocus an infant without having to yell no.

This tactic also works with toddlers – at least sometimes. When I see that Nora is going to do something that will probably not end well or that I don’t want her to do, I default to yelling at her to stop it or say my “no, no, no!”  This usually ends up egging her on (she often thinks it’s hilarious when I yell at her…).  Or, it ends up with her in tears or a tantrum. I’ve found that by providing her with a different idea of something to do or physically picking her up and redirecting, I’m able to forego these behaviors. I use this tactic a lot when she is asking me to do something that I don’t want her to do (or that I don’t want to participate in for the 50th time). Instead, I can come up with a different fun idea that will hopefully take her attention instead. 

Examples:

How about we do ______ instead?

Let’s go play in your room for awhile next.

What’s a different game that we can play?

Change the Language From No to Yes

I’m really working on watching my language and changing it from negative to positive forms. This means that instead of saying “Don’t Run!,” I say “Please Walk!”  When given orders, children often focus only on the last words in the sentence.  When you preface a sentence with no, stop, or don’t, they don’t usually process the negative portion, but hear the words at the end and continue that action. By stating what you do want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do, there is a much higher chance of it actually happening. 

This requires extra brain power on my part, so it’s been taking a little time to get the hang of it. It’s way easier to say stop doing something than to think of what I want them to do instead! However, I have found that when I do remember to switch it around, I have a much easier time communicating with Nora what I need from her leading me to less saying no.  Then, she’ll often follow through- though definitely not every time. She is two after all!

Examples: 

Instead of “Don’t pour out the bubbles”,  I can say “Keep the bubbles in the bottle.”

Instead of “No screaming in the house,” I can say “Outdoor noises outside and indoor noises inside.”

Instead of “Stop dumping out all of the pieces,” I can say “Put the pieces back in the box.”

Give Options to Avoid the Power Struggle

Nora is at the age where she is wanting to be the ruler of her own life. She likes to make the decisions of what we’re doing and how she’s going to do it, and she does not like to hear the word no.  This can contribute to a power struggle over silly things like what she’s wearing if I’m not careful. It also makes situations tough when we’re needing to get somewhere on time, and she really isn’t wanting to go.  I will often default to yelling or negative language in these situations, and it always ends in tears and a struggle. I’ve found that by instead offering options between items or ideas in which both outcomes are okay with me, I give her some of the power that she needs to feel in control, while actually staying in control of the situation myself.  

This also leads to me saying no less because I’m happy with either option that she has available. As long as I am giving fair choices to choose between, she’ll generally go along.  She has been known to say, “I don’t like those options,” which can sometimes make things harder. Through a little intentional communication, we can usually figure out a suitable choice that will work for both of us. By breaking it down to her level, I’m able to say no less and usually avoid any tantrums or tears.

Examples:

It’s too hot out to wear that, would you like to wear a dress or shorts?

Do you want to go potty now or after we read another book?

Would you like to hold my hand in the parking lot or do you need me to carry you?

State the Why

As Nora has gotten easier to reason with, sharing with her the reason behind why she can’t do something has worked really well. This often works best when I take the time to pull her to the side, give her snuggles, and validate what she is doing or feeling fits.  I then can state the action that she was doing that was bad and why I don’t want her to do said action. Usually, I’ll then go on to redirect or ask her what other actions she could do instead. By taking the time to sit down with her and be intentional, I can avoid the negative circle and hopefully she won’t continue to do that action in the future.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how fast Nora has caught onto some of the “whys” we have shared with her, allowing us to say no less to her in a lot of situations.  Our biggest one has been the things that we can’t do right now because a place is closed, it’s not a good thing to do when Charlie is awake, or we don’t have enough time. She’ll often catch on quickly and offer a time that could make sense to do it instead- and surprisingly remembers it when we get to that time!  We need to give our two year olds more credit than we think!

Examples:

I see that you like doing that, but that’s dangerous and I don’t want you to get hurt.

I love that you are having fun with Charlie, but I don’t like when you push him because it hurts him.

The library is closed until 10:00, and we can’t go inside until the librarian unlocks the doors.

Say No Less to Your Toddler | Create a positive environment for your children through positive parenting and saying no less.  #GentleParenting #PositiveDiscipline #yesmom #positiveparenting

I’m sure there are many other tactics to employ on the journey to saying no less to our toddlers and using positive language, but these are some of the ones that are working for us right now.  I’d love to hear your ideas as this is all a work in progress for us! I’m pretty sure I said no to the kiddos that 400 times just throughout the process of writing this post. By being intentional in the language we use and the environment we create for our kiddos, I hope to raise confident, creative, and kind adults that go on to do good things. Here’s to each step of that journey!

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