Ah! I am SO excited to be writing this post right now, because it’s bringing me back to something I haven’t done in awhile - just some good old fashioned long winded blogging. If you’ve been along the journey with me for awhile, you’ll remember that for several years I blogged on a regular basis about my outfits, shopping, cocktails, fashion tips, and then motherhood. My regular posts took a backseat when I revamped my business in 2017 and put all my time into my clients, but I’ve really missed popping on here and sharing with you guys about whatever is on my mind. So when my mom blogger friends and I decided to bring back the Real Talk With Real Moms series, I was all over it.
If you’re new to Real Talk With Real Moms, it’s a monthly discussion about life with kiddos brought to you by a group of badass bloggers who are all working moms. We all have a variety of blog topics, viewpoints, and styles, so each of us brings a different voice to each topic. I know I love reading the other moms’ takes, so I can get tips and ideas on how to do it better myself. Cuz let’s face it, parenting is HARD. So I hope you enjoy this little break from fashion on my site to talk about being a mom. I know so many of you struggle with a lot of the same things I do, so I love to keep the discussion open!
Today we are all posting about play ideas and screen time, which I know for me has been a big one in my house now that Sailor is 3 and in constant need of attention and stimulation. Check out the posts from the other ladies as well, and stay tuned for another topic next month!
Right now, we are in the thick of the screen time dilemma over at the Sheppard house. But then again, this day in age, I’m not sure there will ever be a time where it won’t be a topic of discussion. Sailor is at an age where her mind is always going, she has preferences/requests about EVERYTHING, and she wants constant interaction. She goes to preschool full time now, which means she is getting to exercise her brain basically all day (with a nap break somewhere in there). She comes home just vibrating with the excitement of everything she did that day, and is still bouncing off the walls. Literally the only thing that will calm her and bring her down to an energy level more consistent with the rest of us is a little bit of Pinkalicious, Sofia the First, or lately, The Sound of Music. Since this comes at a time when I also need to make dinner, I usually cave and let her veg out in front of the TV for a bit. If I had just played outside all day, I’d want to veg out too!
We tend to take a pretty middle of the road approach to a lot of aspects of parenting, so it just seems like a little bit of TV isn’t going to kill her. It’s when we stretch it a little too far that we start to see the changes in her mood. If we get a little too comfortable with the extra free time it gives us, and accidentally let her watch the entire movie after she had already watched a show that day, she goes into a headspace we prefer never to be. Tantrums, crying, irritable, demanding… even for the rest of the day. We always say “lesson learned.” So, we’re definitely not perfect parents when it comes to this, but if we can keep things in moderation, everything is usually in a good place.
So, what type of play do we find keeps her occupied without a screen? We don’t have a ton of toys in our house, for various reasons. Not in any extreme way - she has plenty - but we just don’t have a play room full of toys. The living room has one credenza where we store her most used ones, and any backups are kept in the garage. I’m constantly going through and getting rid of things that lost a lot of pieces or that she’s not reaching for. Most of these toys keep her occupied for a few minutes before she leaves them in the middle of the room and is on to the next. This whole process will last about 20 minutes tops before she’s looking to us for interaction. This can be challenging to say the least, but it does cause us to find activities that will genuinely engage her. A few of the most successful ones include:
Making cards for loved ones. For the holidays, she and Madi (nanny turned BFF) made cards for every family member, friend, teacher, and Starbucks employee, all of which got mailed out or hand delivered. All it took were some blank cards from the dollar section at Target, rubber stamps, markers, and stickers. Something about the idea of making something for a specific person really inspires her. Now we’re onto Valentines.
Reading books. Sailor has always been book obsessed, which is awesome. Sometimes she’ll sit and “read” by herself, but she’s happiest sitting with one of us and reading together.
Playing “tennis.” Actually badminton. Surprisingly, this is kind of a sport that can be played in the house. No net of course.
Yoga. The girl loves yoga. We get out the mats and she’ll show us the moves/chants she’s learned in her preschool yoga class (I know). She loves 3 legged dog the most. But you don’t have to have yoga at school to try this one. She’s always been fascinated by all the poses.
The park. What kid doesn’t love the park? Sailor would never turn a trip down. Every time she goes, she challenges herself to try something she hasn’t done before. It’s great because it gets us out of the house and exercising, and allows her to practice her physical skills.
FaceTiming with family who live far away. This one is a gray area because it involves the screen, but Sailor loves connecting with her grandparents, aunts, and uncles this way. She’ll put the phone on a gorilla pod, attach it to her scooter, and take them all for (very dizzy/choppy) rides.
Walking the dogs. She loves to take the leash and feel like an adult. She gets tired and asks to stop and “take a moment” along the way, but it’s another fun activity that involves exercise and also crosses something off the To Do list.
Dressing up. Whether we like it or not, we’ve managed to collect a plethora of princess dresses and it’s not a normal day if she’s not requesting to put one on at some point. It’s not much of an activity because she just puts it on and goes about her day, but there’s a whole ritual around deciding which princess she wants to be that day, and it seems like it’s helping her navigate “girl life” somehow.
There’s one common theme amongst most of these. They all require an adult to do them interactively with her, or be overseeing it in some way. At the end of the day, she’s happiest when she’s playing WITH us. It can be draining when there’s a million other things to get done and it feels like she’s never satisfied, but it’s a good reminder that ultimately kids her age just want to spend time with us. I’m sure I’ll welcome the day when she’s happier to play on her own, but I know I’ll miss her looking to me for attention as much as she does now.
I’d love to know what your toddlers’ favorite activities are, because I’m definitely in need of ideas! Let me know if you enjoy these types of posts and if you have any requests of topics you’d like to see discussed!
Photography by Ashley Burns