Evan, at only 3 years old, is also Not in the Independent Play stage. I think it's more personality than ability. Evan has a lot of strengths--he's really good at directing others in pretend play scenarios....he's got a very engaging personality....he's a pro at following me around the house saying, "Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy"--but Entertaining Himself is not one of them. Because he's not a play-in-the-playroom-while-I-check-email kind of kid, I am constantly on the look-out for activities that take little time/effort/materials to set up/clean up, yet keep him occupied long enough for me to read the latest newsfeed on my facebook page. Is that so wrong?
Moon Sand was our go-to activity for awhile. It was a bit messy, but it would keep him sitting and playing for 20 minutes at a time! He'll happily sit and look at books for 15-20 minutes at a stretch, but I like to save that for when I'm putting Max down for a nap. It keeps him in one, quiet place and there's little that can go wrong with just a pile of books out. Painting is a good one, but even that takes longer to set-up and clean-up than he'll spend splattering paint on a page. Forget coloring, stickers, or other "boring" art projects. (His word, not mine. And who taught him "boring?" Isn't that the kind of thing they learn on the school bus?)
I was at a loss....and relying way too much on movies to achieve my daily afternoon Mommy Time. And then....Aunt Katie to the rescue! My sister is the kind of person who, when you say, "Man, I'm in a rut with dinner ideas," will suggest 10 different new dinners she's tried over the last few weeks and you just happen to have the ingredients for three of them in your pantry. She also, conveniently for me, has three kids around the ages of my two, is a stay-at-home mom who lives around the corner from us, and is also navigating a new world of No Naps. So, quiet, independent activity ideas? Yup, she has a few.
Here's one we tried yesterday, that kept Evan happily busy for 35, yes: THIRTY-FIVE, minutes yesterday! 35 minutes that I spent having Mommy and Baby Time with Max for the first time in....well, ever? It was wonderful.
containers (I used glasses, tupperware containers would work well, too)
spoons, measuring cups, etc.
towels (to catch drips. I used an old beach towel, not sure if it would stain or not.)
I filled four glasses with water and added food coloring to each (red, yellow, green, and blue). Evan used the spoons and measuring cups to mix the colors in empty glasses.
After 35 minutes, all the glasses were filled with brown water, Evan held one up to me and happily announced that "Dessert is served!" and Max was ready for some other-than-mommy entertainment (I just can't compete with his hilarious big brother). A total success.
Tomorrow, shaving cream?