Posted by / Thursday, November 19, 2015 / 4 Comments / ,

Thursday Thoughts :: The Truth About Planning "Quality Time" with Toddlers

I don't know if it's only my son or what, but whenever I try to plan "quality time" in the form of a creative activity for us to do together, it doesn't quite work out. Also, it seems the more excited I get about the project, the less he is. I learned this a long time ago, but I try every now and again to see if the older he gets, the more interest he'll show.

For instance, I brought out the paints and the pumpkins, lined the floors with newspaper, got down on the ground and started showing little B how to paint on the pumpkin. His interest lasted all of three minutes and the most excited he got was while we were laying the newspaper down on the ground. We got a few strokes of paint on the pumpkin and we called it a day.

So I've kind of taken the pressure of "planning activities" with Brian completely off my plate. The thing is I always see pictures of friends on facebook making awesome crafts with their little ones and I'm stunned and amazed that A. they have the energy and patience to do such things, and that B. their children cooperated. I immediately think to myself, should I be doing more stuff like that with Brian?? #MOMGUILT

>>Note, activities we plan outside of the house usually always go well. He loves the playground, the nature center, going for walks, the pool, the beach, etc... I'm talking more about creative play inside the house, and I have a long winter ahead of me here <<

But then I talk to my friends, many of whom are in my same boat. We'll ask each other, "do you like, get down on the floor and do pinterest-y things with _____ like so and so on facebook?", and the answer is usually no, or if they did, it ended with crying and a huge mess for mom to clean up. And that is why they are my friends. Another point we frequently bring up, did our moms do that stuff with us?? Usually not. For holidays and special occasions, sure, like gingerbread houses and carving pumpkins and the like, but were they planning our activities down to the hour on the weekends? Definitely not.

Ahhh the world before social media. I think our parent's methodology was, stay out of trouble, and out of my hair. And I have such fond memories with friends doing just that. My friend Rosa and I used to set up my dad's video camera and pretend we were newscasters. We thought we were environmentalists and went around my neighborhood picking up trash. We would lay a comforter on the ground and pretend it was our boat and spend hours trying to survive the harsh waters of the atlantic. We made books out of looseleaf paper and tried selling them to my neighbors. Rosa, if you're reading this, I hope you're getting a kick out of it.

So although I can't use the same "stay out of my hair" methodology with my toddler because he's far too young and in danger of getting in trouble, I'm kind of just letting things happen spur of the moment and making quality time happen while we do everyday things like sing in the car, ready-set-go race inside the house, dance parties, run around the house like crazy people, play outside, play at the sink with my pots and pans, read books, etc... And when I'm not available, he entertains himself which does include TV and iPAD.  I must say, it's a hell of a lot easier and it's working out much better than trying to plan activities.

SO, what works for you??


  1. Once I let Greyson start playing with safety scissors it was a whole other ball game. That, paper, and painters tape keeps him occupied for hours. Any sort of traditional craft it a solid two minutes only. I don't know if it's boys or the age, but you're not alone!!

  2. Nope we can't do planned activities here either. I don't know if it's a boy thing or a personality thing or an age thing but they just don't work. As much as I want to paint pumpkins or make turkey's with their little hands I know it will just end up being miserable for both us. Miller will lose interest after 5 mins and then I'll get frustrated or he'll touch something with paint covered hands and it's just a disaster waiting to happen. I find we do much better when we go out and do things like you mentioned.

  3. My kids like baking or making pizza (rolling the dough, sprinkling the cheese). It is a MESS, but could keep them busy for an hour and then they're more inclined to eat it if they made it. Ps-love your blog topics and we've made the chicken soup like x5! Thank you.

  4. Our crafts are more about a tangible useful outcome, baking food he can eat or making toys with glue and Popsicle sticks. Don't show him what to do just give him materials and let him go to town n his own. We use google eyes cut up tissue paper, poofs, watercolour paint, lots of options. Doing it side by side with you might stress him out bc he can't do the craft as well as you. It's better to let him play with the options and maybe joint him after 5min. You may have to show the activity a few times before he gets really in to it. Using a water color and medicine dropper on coffee filters has been a huge hit. Boys learn differently than girls, dabbling a little in everything then on to the next so sounds like he's quite normal. Bath paints made of corn starch, shampoo and water color or food coloring have been a hit too!


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