I wrote this post one year ago but didn't publish it then. I recently came across it and thought it was fascinating to reflect back and see what has changed (and not) in the space of a year.
Miss A is 15 months now, going on 16 months soon. I never could have imagined how hard it would be keeping a toddler occupied all day. If you thought stay-at-home mothers have it easy…HAH. You're welcome to walk a day in my shoes.
We don't follow a rigid schedule, but here is a loose summary of some things we get up to in a day:
First thing in the morning, Miss A goes to the toilet and brushes her teeth (she will not allow us to brush her teeth so we have to let her do it herself; she's not too bad really). She is usually pretty good at entertaining herself in the morning so after all the personal hygiene, I let her play on her own while I do chores- washing, cleaning, making breakfast etc. Sometimes she shadows me. I always narrate what I'm doing and talk to her like an adult. This allows her to learn what's going on e.g if we're making scrambled eggs, I put the pan on the floor and name all the ingredients as I'm putting them in- eggs, milk, herbs etc. Then, she gets to help stir it.
After breakfast, we usually go out. At this age, she only takes 1 nap and is up 10-13 hours a day in total. To spend all that time at home will drive us both mad. I try to take her places like the library, museum, zoo etc so she gets to run around and learn at the same time (many paid places have annual passes which is very worth it when you have kids). I try to teach her something at home first before going out e.g show her pictures of elephants and talk to her about it, before going to the zoo and seeing a real one. Once a week, she has a swimming lesson and I let her have some free play in the pool after. She started very young and so has turned into a real water baby. If there is a fountain, she will want to jump into it.
Good ol' Ikea – endless entertainment
I don't drive so we take public transport everywhere. She doesn't like the pram so she goes in the carrier or I carry her. I will usually stay at the place until she is tired and wants to nap. Then, she will usually nurse to sleep (she sleeps well in the carrier) and I get to take my time getting home without her fussing. She usually naps for 1 hour 20 minutes (yes, very accurate), but on a lucky day, 2 hours. I work while she naps and after she goes to bed at night.
Depending on what we do and when she takes her nap, she will have lunch before or after. She is not a fantastic eater, but is also not the fussiest of them all. I just offer her food, and if she takes it, she does, and if not, I do not force her. It is impossible to force her anyway as she now knows how to swat away the food and go "No!" She is teething at the moment and has started nursing a lot again.
At home, we read a lot of books and sing A LOT of nursery rhymes. She loves Incy Wincy and hence, spiders. She has seen the real big furry bad thing and still likes them. Oh boy. We do borrow a lot of books from the library- often the kind that has parts to feel or flip. She also has a little table that we cover in paper and she can draw on it. She still likes to sneakily eat crayons though!
I try to rotate her toys and give her lots of ordinary, open-ended items like boxes, containers, kitchen utensils etc. so she can use her own imagination make up her own games. One of her favorite games is putting straws through a parmesan container. She also likes magnets and stickers. At this age, she has started doing imaginative play and has suddenly started playing with soft toys and making them dance or talk to each other. She also makes them kiss a lot!
Music and dance is a big part of our lives. I find music usually stops her from getting too antsy at home. I usually have it running in the background and she will dance to the songs she likes. We also have a box of musical instruments (xylophone, tambourine, shakers etc) that she will bang around on. V has also started learning the guitar so he can play for her! She pretty much always requests 'Row, Row Your Boat'.
If we don't go out before her nap, we will usually go to playgrounds late in the afternoon/evening. At the moment, she is mad about twigs and leaves and loves collecting them and playing with them when out. I am the sort of parent who does not object to their kids getting dirty. I think it is a healthy part of childhood. If we go somewhere with a water feature, I let her get wet. I usually do not hold her hand (unless she wants to scale a massive step or something and is clearly going to smack her face) so that she can attempt things herself and work on her gross motor skills, and if she falls and looks uninjured, I do not fuss and let her get up herself.
Dinner is pretty much the messiest meal of the day so she gets a bath right after. She spends a lot of time just playing in the bath as she loves water. Her favorite bath toys of the moment is a teapot and cups (all actual kitchen items). She also likes arranging her ducks up alongside the bath and we sing "Crocodile, Crocodile" and she will push them into the water at the end of the song.
In the evenings, she spends some time with V and gets to watch some TV. I know a lot of experts do not recommend any TV under 2 or even 3, but I personally do not think it is the enemy as long as the program is age appropriate and it is part of a balanced lifestyle. Clearly, it is bad if ALL the do is watch TV and do not read books or get out and play and learn. However, I think in moderation, it can be a lifesaver for parents.
We download shows for her so that we do not have to rely on TV programming. At this age, they cannot really follow quick cartoons so we pretty much only let her watch song and dance shows e.g Playschool or nursery rhymes. She has actually learned a scary amount from Playschool! The only non-educational show I let her watch is In 'The Night Garden' which is this Teletubbies-like show, because she loves it SO much. Actually, she loves it to the point that it has become educational as they also have books of the show, and she adores them too. She will make me read them over and over and over again, and I find myself narrating it differently each time to keep myself interested…so she has actually ended up learning a lot from it.
After all that, it is time to brush our teeth and go to bed! I usually stay up a couple hours after she goes to bed to work. Then, it's time to go into deep sleep myself, but not too deep, because the teething bubba will wake up crying throughout the night. All in a day's work.