HOW TO MAKE THEM MEANINGFUL AND FUN, WITHOUT SENDING YOUR ENTIRE HOME INTO COMPLETE CHAOS.
IF YOUR TODDLER IS LIKE MOST, THEY ALREADY HAVE PLENTY OF PLASTIC JUNK THAT THEY DONT USE. THINGS ARE FUN FOR A FEW MINUTES, BUT THEY EASILY SLIP AWAY AND GO UNTOUCHED FOR DAYS AND DAYS.
A few posts back, we covered the idea of using toy rotation to help counteract this as well, but if you don’t have the time, space, energy etc. for trying that method there are other options.
My step-daughter’s birthday is in early January, and after getting to celebrate Christmas several times between both parents and their extended families, she gets a little overwhelmed with the present opening, and honestly just doesn’t need anymore stuff. Here are some of the things we are planning to do for her instead:
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, IF HER OPTIONS WERE TO PLAY OR TO SPEND TIME WITH US, SHE WOULD CHOOSE THE LATTER. IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER IN UPSTATE NY (EVEN WITHOUT COVID) OPTIONS ON THINGS TO DO TOGETHER ARE PRETTY LIMITED, BUT WE THINK WE’VE COME UP WITH A FEW SHE CAN HANDLE.
- Snow Tubing: we wanted at least one BIG outdoor sort of an adventure. If she was born another time of year we could have considered something like a water or amusement park, a boat ride, a fishing trip, a beach-day, a special hike, or any other particular thing that she enjoys. This year was the first year she really got to enjoy the snow, asking, “Throw me in the snow?!” pretty much every morning, so this was the way to go for us.
- A subscription box: We’ve tried a few, and I think that changing them up 2-3 times a year has been good for us. We just cancelled our koala crate from the Kiwi co. She enjoyed the books that came with each crate more than she actually enjoyed the activities, so we may go back to it when she is a bit bigger (several of the families I tutor for LOVE their kiwi crate, so I think she just needs to work up to it). If you choose a subscription box as a present, make sure you get it far in advance so that the first box arrives in time for you to wrap it up for the occasion. Then, when subsequent boxes come they will be excited to see the same packaging in the mail.
- A Bedroom “Remodel.”: While we don’t actually want to remodel (in the sense of changing paint colors and flooring) her bedroom at the moment, we decided to rearrange some furniture (partially under her direction). As a child I loved to move around my furniture and try new things, and I think it helps make her notice toys in a different way, being that they will be at different levels and on different structures.
- A Trip to The Pet Store: Here’s the disclaimer, I know that pets aren’t a good gift for every child. They are a very long term commitment, and they need a lot of time and attention. We decided to give our daughter a fish-tank because, living on a farm, we are already very oriented around taking care of animals, and she is used to the routine of doing animal-related chores both morning and evening. We chose the fish tank for her room for many reasons, including the fact that it will create light and white noise at bedtime, it will give her a friend that is hers and hers only, and they are her favorite animal. We also loaded up her learning book for this week with loads of fish related elements, which will allow us to better capitalize on the excitement of having a new fish.
- A Tea Party: This is the last thing we have planned for her, and honestly one of the ones I am most excited about. For Christmas she received a small mug that said “little elf” and matched my larger one, and she’s been IN LOVE. She started asking for tea before bed, because that’s what she sees mommy and daddy doing. We are going to set aside part of the day to first paint, and then use, our very own new tea set.
We also had to figure out how we would make the day special without being able to go anywhere. For my birthday, we moved all of the furniture out of our living room, created a dance floor, and added plenty and plenty of candles for the aesthetic. For her, we plan to add plenty of fairy lights and balloons, some which float and some which do not.
She also gets to take a bath all by herself, with whatever toys and bath bombs she would like. This always makes her feel like an extra big-girl and its a form of self-care that I am glad she’s learning to give herself early on during her life.
Lastly, we plan to talk to her about what things she thinks she would like to learn/do/try/make/whatever while she’s three. Basically, she’s goal setting but that concept would be hard to explain to her, so we just ask her. It could also be fun to ask questions about how she views herself, which we can add to her memory box year after year. If you’d like to try this idea, check out this one on my Etsy site, or a similar product from other small shops.
If you loved these ideas and would love to know when more are posted: please feel free to subscribe to our email list. Enter your child’s DOB in the Birthday field so we can send them something extra in their special month (And if you have more than one child you would like us to send something too, just drop us a line and we can make it happen!).