Some days I find that I just need five minutes of quiet. Five minutes to sit. And drink a cup of tea. Five minutes without the “Mum, play with me,” or “Help me, Mum,” or simply, “MUUUUUUUMMMMM!!!!”
In order to create my five minutes of quiet I have a couple of fall back activities which are simple to pull together, require minimal input from me as they are reasonably independent for a toddler to complete, and are therefore perfect for five minutes of quiet Mum time out!
1. Tape: Cut off some lengths of masking tape or coloured electrical tape and line them up along the edge of the table. Add an assortment of small boxes, lids and cardboard rolls, and felt tipped pens, and invite your toddler to create. Whatever they like, however they like. Similarly, a sheet of stickers works well for young toddlers. For older babies, loops of masking tape are fun to un-stick from the high chair tray.
2. Glue stick: I recently got through a 30+ minute conference call thanks to a brand new glue stick, some brown paper bags and a whole pile of little shapes and pictures. I love that glue sticks aren’t as messy as other forms of glue.
3. Washing: Toddlers and preschoolers love to wash up. Dishes in the sink. Toy animals, cars, dolls, or even dolls clothes, in a tub. Add a squirt of dishwashing liquid, a washcloth and a towel to lay the clean items on.
4. Sensory tub: Fill a shallow tub with rice, lentils, small pasta (or aquarium gravel or small decorative stones for older children). Add a funnel, measuring cups, plastic bottle and spoons and let your toddler or preschooler fill and pour til their heart’s content. Put down a large tablecloth on the floor and set the tub in the middle to help define a play area and minimise the mess.
5. Sorting (and threading): Present a small muffin tin or egg carton base and a collection of objects to sort – buttons, decorative stones, large colourful beads, shells, or small seedpods, flowers and leaves from the garden. Buttons or beads are our favourite; Immy will play with buttons for ages, whilst beads have the added bonus of encouraging sorting AND threading activity.
As a general rule, each of these activities will give me at least five minutes of relatively quiet play, and oftentimes much longer. My toddler is happy and engaged in an interesting activity and I get a quiet moment of Mum time out to regroup and enjoy my cup of tea, enjoying the novelty of drinking it while it’s still hot!
What are your fallback activities for a little guaranteed quiet time?