Spending everyday with a 2 year old could become quite a challenge if you do not know how to entertain a toddler. Two year old children are full of energy and determined to assert their independence. If you must spend your days with a 2 year old have your bag of tricks ready to keep the child entertained.
The first step for entertaining a 2 year old is to have a plan. Do not wait until the last minute and then try to figure out what to do. Prepare a daily schedule of activities for the child and review it every evening before you go to bed. Plan to follow this schedule each day making only minor adjustments as necessary. Once the routine is established, both you and your 2 year old will experience more enjoyable days.
The daily schedule for a 2 year old should include a list of activities to entertain and general routines with estimated time periods. Here is a sample schedule:
8:00 Morning Routine – diaper change, wash hands and face, breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed
9:00 Story Time – Entertain your 2 year old by reading two or three stories using a variety of animated voices. Then talk about the story; look at the pictures and talk about the pictures. Ask and answer questions based on your toddler’s level of speech and understanding …”What is that? Oh, that is a red ball? What color is that ball? Do you have a ball?…etc.
9:30 Morning Walk – use a stroller, or let your 2 year old walk depending on the child. Take a 15-20 minute walk around the neighborhood. Point out the sights along the way and discuss them. “Look at the squirrel. Do you see the squirrel. Look at this tree. What color is the tree? …etc. Two-year old children are interested in just about anything, so there are a lot of sights available to entertain the child. Just make sure you are interacting with your 2 year old during the walk, and not talking on your cell phone.
10:00 Mid-Morning Snack and Relaxation Break – have some fruit juice or a small serving of fresh fruit; listen to some children’s songs or nursery rhymes on CD, or watch an entertaining, yet educational kid’s DVD such as “My Baby Can Read” “Sesame Street” “Baby Einstein” or “Barney”. All of these options will entertain your 2 year old, and he or she will learn in the process. Limit viewing to one show in the morning. (In the evening consider a ‘go to sleep’ CD or DVD if you have difficulty getting your 2 year old to wind down).
11:00 Art Activity and Game Time. Using washable, non-toxic crayons, draw ‘pictures’ together with your toddler; then move on to putting puzzles together, stacking blocks, rolling a ball back and forth, and so on. Just have fun playing together with your 2 year old.
11:30 Lunch Time. Enjoy a healthy lunch together with your child. During lunch time you can entertain your child by talking about the food -comment on the taste, color, shape and texture. Express enjoyment in eating your lunch. “This is so yummy!” Explain where the food comes from and ask your child questions during the meal. Consider starting a container vegetable garden so your child can see how plant foods grow.
12:00 Nap Time. Put your toddler down for a nap. This could be a challenge until the routine is firmly in place. However, make it quiet time/nap time. Close the shades or curtains to darken the room. Put on soft, classical music or just enjoy perfect silence. Lay in the room briefly with your child and then say it is nap time and leave the child to rest. During nap time do something for yourself such as napping, reading, watching television, or just relaxing. Do not do chores! Don’t worry about keeping a perfect home while raising a young child. Just take care of yourself so that you can enjoy your child. There will always be time to clean house in the future.
1:30 Free Time. After your 2 year old has taken a nap, allow free time for independent play and exploration. Young children need to develop the skills to entertain themselves. Just sit down and supervise. You will learn a lot about your child’s personality and creativity just by observing the independent play.
2:30 Undivided Attention. Give your child a little attention ( a hug, a kiss, an entertaining story, a song).
3:00 Home Obligations. Straighten up a little. Put in a load of laundry. Cook dinner now to heat up later – this way you won’t have unnecessary stress in the evening. Take care of these things with your 2 year old under foot. He or she will find this entertaining and could be your helper.
4:00 Miscellaneous or Personal Activities. Do the things on your personal to do list or sit around and relax while keeping an eye on your 2 year old.
5:30 Undivided Attention. It’s time for more undivided attention. Break away from your personal activities and spend the next half hour before dinner entertaining your 2 year old.
6:00 Dinner and Dishes. Heat up that meal you prepared earlier and clean up the dishes, or delegate that to your spouse if you have one.
7:00 Bath Time. Give your toddler a relaxing bubble bath and then have quiet time as a family until his or her bed time.
8:00 Bed Time. Time for the little one to go to bed. Read peaceful bedtime stories, play soft music to help your 2 year old drift off to sleep.
8:30 Parent Time. Enjoy yourself, relax, spend time with your significant other; Enjoy the next few hours, but get to bed my 11 pm because your little 2 year old will be up and ready to roll bright and early tomorrow morning!
Use this schedule as a guide for helping you entertain your toddler during the day. Be flexible because young children are unpredictable and you will need to make adjustments and go with the flow. Enjoy your little blessing and good luck. Remember, things will get easier as your child grows older.