She definitely has times that she needs some company, or a helping hand, or just a chance to run around outside. But overall, she does a great job entertaining herself and we feel really pleased with how confident and curious and brave she has become.
Fortunately, we have some great things that help keep her occupied; some are toys but most are just regular household items that she uses to play (which really, at this age, is work!)
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite things, for life with a two year old:
1. Water. Charlotte REALLY likes to play in the sink with running water, or to sit in the bath all day long, which just isn't practical or resourceful. So sometimes I fill the kitchen sink part way, and dye it green (see photo below!). Or sometimes she gets her bath toys in a bucket on the bathroom floor, or sometimes she gets the foam soap dispenser and a few containers so she can "wash hands" to her heart's content. Water is a great thing to help practice pouring and it's very easy to clean up! I almost always put a big towel underneath her, to help keep the floor slightly dry. Her clothes usually get wet, but we change them the next time she needs a diaper change, and hang them up to dry and be worn again.
2. Beans. My mom brought her some hand-dyed blue and orange beads months ago and Charlotte was playing with them almost every day. I finally got tired of having them randomly around the house, so I put them away for about a week. But then I got her some dried dark red kidney beans from the bulk bin at the grocery store and marketed them as "new purple beans"! She only plays with them on a silicone baking mat in the kitchen. She uses measuring spoons and plastic cups and a metal travel mug and whatever other containers she can find. She scoops, she pours, she transfers, she dumps. These "new" beans often buy me 10-20 minutes of independent play time. [Note: Twice this week I had friends over and both of their kids put a bean in their mouth! I was a bit surprised, since Charlotte never does that, but I remember her trying it once when she first started playing with beans. All I did was to explain that these beans aren't cooked, so they aren't for eating. They are hard and make a good noise and are easy to scoop; if we put them in our mouths they don't work very well anymore. That's solved the issue and now she only uses them for playing.]
3. Blocks. Charlotte has multiple sets of blocks, but we usually only keep one accessible at a time. She has awesome magnetic Tegu blocks, some beautiful hand carved wooden blocks, blocks shaped like letters, and lately-- the blocks from the game Jenga! She doesn't play with blocks for long periods of time alone, but if one of us is with her, she'll do all sorts of things with them. Making towers, making snakes, lining them up next to each other, knocking down the towers, "counting"...
4. Art supplies. Charlotte got some dot markers for Christmas and she loves using them on solid white paper. She also has watercolor paints, colored pencils, and crayons. We got her some of these for her birthday, but I'm saving them to use on the airplane next week. Like blocks, art materials only hold her attention for a long time if someone is "painting" or "coloring" with her, but every once in a while I can set out the paint set and she'll use it alone for 5-10 minutes. Plus-- totally washable!
5. Busy Toddler Instagram account. This is where I get a LOT of ideas for things to play with Charlotte.
6. Play kitchen. Joel's dad made us a play kitchen last winter and Charlotte LOVES it. She does all sorts of imaginary play there-- making soup, serving breakfast to her bear, baking cookies, "washing" dishes or her hands, "cutting" sushi with this cute set my mom gave her, etc.
7. Push toys. We currently have three great push toys, two given to us by friends. One is a shopping cart that we bought her for an early Christmas present. She LOVES pushing the cart around, loaded to the brim with play food, stuffed animals, books, etc. She also loves this little pink bus that someone gave us- it's both a push toy and a ride-on toy. Charlotte likes to take it up and down the street outside, alternating between riding it and pushing it. And asking me to push her on it, of course ;) We let her use the bus inside, too, since it rains every day all.winter.long here. She's not allowed to ride it next to Asher's door when he's sleeping, because it can be really loud, but she uses it in the kitchen, living room, dining room, etc. Highly recommend these as a toy for kids her age-- I think they can be found pretty easily at yard sales or on Craigslist type sites.
How about you?! What fun things has your toddler been enjoying during the cold, dark days of winter?