Toddlers Don’t Need Toys

Now, before you read the title of this post and jump to the wrong conclusion, I should say that Tom does own toys. Lots of toys, in fact. He has train sets and toy cars and stuffed toys and musical instruments and various things that stack and a whole bunch of other stuff. And he does play with them. Sometimes. But the more I watch him potter round the house, the more I realise we could have saved our money and only bought him a couple of toy cars. If that.

Wednesday was a frustrating day. I have it off work, the morning was fairly sunny, and I was dying to get out onto the Marshes. But we were due to get two big deliveries – a crate of wine (hurray!) – and a new set of shelves for Tom’s room…to store all those toys he doesn’t play with. So we were stuck in. We couldn’t even get out to the back garden, because I can’t hear the doorbell from out there.

Despite my occasional bouncing round the house going ‘I want to go out‘ (very mature, I know. It’s supposed to be the toddler behaving that way), we did manage to entertain ourselves pretty well. We read lots of stories in the morning, sang nursery rhymes and chased each other around the flat, then Tom went down for his nap.

When he got up, he helped me pod beans for our lunch.

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Lunch eaten, I realised that we could actually go out…into the front garden. Well, I say garden. It’s more of a bin storage area. And technically only the access to our front door is ours, the rest belongs to our downstairs neighbour. But hey, we can definitely hear any delivery drivers from there and I was not staying in a moment longer.

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Tom opted not to wear his coat, despite the freezing cold

We played hide and seek around the bins, chased each other round in circles, and experimented with Tom’s new found ability to open and close doors (trickier since he can’t actually reach the handle on the front door, so I kept having to open it for him).No toys required, but a surprising amount of energy expended considering the tiny space.

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After about an hour, we had exhausted the possibilities of the front garden, so we went back in and Tom happily rearranged the shoes on our shoe rack.

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Since I wasn’t such a fan of the shoe game, we went back upstairs and made biscuits. Which was both fun and very messy. Whilst they baked, I sat down with a coffee and Tom spent about 45 minutes pretending to pour water out of an empty bottle into a candle, then pretending to drink out of the candle (it wasn’t lit, obviously). I got fed some too.

Once he was bored of that game, he emptied out the contents of my handbag and put them back again. Over and over and over again. Then he got two containers and our set of dominoes, and spent about an hour and a half transferring the dominoes from one container to the other. I’m not exaggerating. He was so focused that I ended up changing his nappy in the living room, with him still playing, because I didn’t want to break his concentration.

Later, he kicked a balloon around for a while, then had dinner. He spent the evening climbing on and off the sofa (he’s only just gotten tall enough to manage it), making piles of blankets on the floor and jumping on them, and emptying out a pack of cards all over the floor, then rearranging them into different piles. At which point I suddenly realised it was bath time (which had nothing to do with a desire to prevent any more mess being made..at all…honest).

Almost a whole day indoors and the only purpose-bought toy he played with was his peg puzzle…and that was only because I was making him stay still so I could put his pjs on.

Which begs the question…why did we buy him any toys in the first place when he clearly doesn’t need them?

The shelves still haven’t arrived incidentally. Fortunately, the wine did (hurray!)

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Baking with a Toddler

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I love to cook. And I want Tom to share that love. So I’ve been impatiently waiting for him to be old enough to start getting involved in the kitchen. He’s now 16.5 months and I thought I’d give it a first try.

Obviously anything involving cooking over the hob or sharp knives is out at this age. Which really just leaves baking. I had no eggs, and bread is a bit time consuming for a little one, so we went with biscuits as the best option.

I try to feed Tom a healthy diet. He gets ‘dessert’ after lunch and dinner, but it’s a piece of fruit or a small yoghurt. We don’t really have snack food in the house. Having said that, I don’t see anything wrong with the occasional treat, especially if it is something homemade. Otherwise I worry he will see those foods as forbidden, which will only make them more attractive.

I decided on peanut butter biscuits. Mainly because we had the ingredients already. Since Tom was going to have to stand on a chair to help, I got everything we needed together before we started.

Tom watched with interest as I measured out flour, then sugar, and tipped them into a measuring bowl. I couldn’t persuade him to help with this part, but he did find the tipping very funny for some reason.

He was more interested in helping with the butter and peanut butter. And by helping I mean eating. He managed to grab a handful of peanut butter before I could stop him, but I got the butter away in time.

Once I had the butter and peanut butter a bit more mixed into the other ingredients, he lost interest in trying to eat them and got involved with helping me mix. He really enjoyed this bit and kept looking at me and grinning. He was even more pleased when I put the dough out onto the table and showed him how to sprinkle flour over to stop it sticking.

For some reason, Tom got quite cross when I started rolling the dough out, and kept trying to take it away from me. I think he was enjoying patting it. He got back on board for the cutting bit though and, once I had showed him what to do, very much enjoyed placing the biscuits on the baking tray. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that he kept taking the offcuts and putting them on the tray too.

The biscuits had a few fingerprints and were a bit misshapen, but for a first effort I’m pretty proud of our baking trial. We had a couple of them each after Tom’s dinner and they were yummy. I look forward to baking with Tom a lot more in the future!