Seven Fun Things to Do Outdoors if You’re Under Three

Seven Fun Things to Do Outdoors if You’re Under Three

Ah, Spring! The weather is warming up. You are eager to be outside, and so is your toddler! Here are some fun activities your toddler can enjoy at home.

  1. Paint with water. All you need is a big, cheap paint brush and a bucket with about 2 cups of water. Your toddler can paint the deck, the porch, the side of the house, the sidewalk–anything goes. You can add a few drops of food coloring to the water and it won’t stain the surfaces.
  2. Nature walk. Take a walk (without the stroller) around your yard or neighborhood and stop to observe things closely. Is that a daffodil? What kind of tree is that? What color is that car? Do you hear the birds? Ooo, look at that leaf! Your toddler will love looking at all the details and small things we adults usually ignore.
  3. Toy wash. For this activity, you could use a large plastic truck, a doll, or even a big rock from your yard. Use a dishpan or a big plastic bowl. Put a couple of inches of water in it, and a squirt of mild soap or baby shampoo. Give your child a small scrub brush, a sponge cut in half, a shower scrubby or even a baby washcloth. Also, provide a small plastic cup or pitcher to scoop up water and rinse the object.
  4. Window washing. This is a great one for sliding doors or french doors. A small, trigger-type spray bottle, a small squeegee, a washcloth or sponge, and you’re ready to go! I suggest you mix a small amount of white vinegar into the water when you fill the bottle. This will keep your windows from getting hard-water spots and will keep your toddler from drinking the water.
  5. If you have a sandbox: Bury treasure in it. Shells, small plastic toys, river pebbles or any small, weatherproof object will do. Bury the objects a few inches under the sand and let your toddler discover them.
  6. Gardening. Keep your sessions brief and your expectations small. Buy a six-pack of plants and let your toddler dig a hole, then plant each plant. Bear in mind that your toddler may want to pull them up and re-plant them every few minutes. To water the plant, give your toddler a small pitcher and a water source (bucket, drink dispenser, or cooler). Fill the water-source container until it is too heavy for your Toddler to lift. Bear in mind that Toddlers like to “dump” water on things, so don’t be over-protective of the plants. Let your toddler go back and forth to the water source as often as they want to.
  7. Sweeping. You can find child-sized brooms at every store during the Spring. For safety, remind your child that the broom bristles have to touch the ground. A push-type broom works best because toddlers are not yet ready for the side-to-side motion of sweeping.

As always, don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellant.

If you don’t want your Toddler to get dirty…GET OVER YOURSELF! Getting dirty is the best part of playing outdoors!

Your Terrific Toddler

Your Terrific Toddler

Who I Am and Why I Love Toddlers

In addition to my duties as a Default Mom to my own family, I spent 35+ years as a Montessori directress (teacher). While I worked with children from 18 months to 12 years old, two-thirds of my career was spent with the youngest members of the school community. I directed (taught) a class of twelve Toddlers (18 months to 3 years old). It was my calling and my joy.

Fun in the planter box

When asked to direct a Toddler environment (class), my first thought was, “Uh-oh! Diapers!” My second thought was, “At last! A chance to get in on the ground floor of child development.” The first three years of life are where the foundations are laid for the future, and I loved the idea of supporting these little ones during their most formative time when everything is new.

An important part of my job was to help, guide, and counsel parents.I learned that moms of toddlers often feel isolated. In the day-to-day-ness of parenting a young child, you have no time to interact with other moms of toddlers. Small issues become big, but you don’t have anyone to tell you if what is happening is normal.

Help has arrived. I have created a series of posts, which will show up on a regular basis, to help you in your life with your Terrific Toddler.

Today’s Topic: Routines and Rituals

Imagine you suddenly find yourself in the middle of the hottest new dance club on a busy night. The lights, the sounds, the strangers pushing around you, everyone moving to a rhythm they understand–but you don’t.

This is what daily life is like for a toddler. Toddlers are on sensory overload all the time. Life comes at them at full volume and they have no way to control any of it. Sometimes it gets to be too much.

The best thing to give your toddler is a daily routine, so your child knows what’s happening next. I’m not talking about a rigidly-structured schedule. I’m talking about a predictable sequence of events. Here’s an example of a predictable routine, from a toddler’s point of view:

Every morning when I wake up, I go to Mommy and Daddy’s room to snuggle with them. Then we change my diaper. Then we get dressed. Then we brush my teeth. Then I eat breakfast. Then I go play with my friends at the gym while Mommy works out., etc.

What I’m emphasizing here is the “this-happens-then-this-happens” nature of the routines. Toddlers need to know what is going to happen next. Change is not something exciting to them. Each day needs to follow a general pattern, a rhythm.

But What About Change?

Life is unpredictable, but most of us follow a general routine in our days. If your child is going to have a change in routine, take the time to prepare your child for it. For example, “After you play today, we’re going to Nana’s house to eat lunch. Nana told me she got strawberries just for you.” If you are calm and confident about new events and changes, your child will be, too. As long as you stick to a regular rhythm, your child will learn to be confident when change happens.

What are Rituals?

Remember my daily routine example? It included a ritual in it–the morning snuggle. Toddlers really love a ritual.

Typical rituals toddlers enjoy are those around the big routines, like nap time, bedtime and bath time. At nap time, your child might need to follow a ritual:

Mommy closes the blinds and puts on my nap music, I get my lovey and get in bed, then I kiss Mommy. Then Mommy says, “sweet dreams!” and closes the door almost all the way. The ritual and details need to be the same every time.

The Bonus for Parents

The upside of rituals and routines for parents is that they make your toddler feel confident, and a confident toddler is usually a happy toddler. Knowing what’s going to happen next reduces anxiety and makes the entire day much smoother for all concerned.

You can do this!