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Toddler parents- can I have a minute by minute of what you do all day?(24 Posts)
Or maybe ten minute by ten minutes... I have a just turned 2 year old, and have him for two days a week on my own (other days I work).
I know it sounds strange but I’m just really struggling with things to do that will take up actual time. I’m trying really hard to be a good mum- and do a lot of activities - all the ones everyone suggests. But they simply don’t take up much time with my son! He wakes (totally awake and downstairs) by half 6 in the morning, and I can have done building blocks, playdoigh, bubbles, colouring, baking, and it’s only sodding 9 o clock.
Inevitably we end up gravitating towards the tv in all these in between bits, which makes me feel really guilty (had pnd and anxiety so this rears it’s head and I feel like a bad mum).
So my question is- how do you actually fill the days up? Even when he plays alone (hardly ever) I empty the dishwasher and then..... just kind of follow him around a bit.
Basically feel like I’m doing this whole thing wrong- should he be playing more by himself? Should we be doing more activities? Why does time slow down when you’re alone with a two year old? Any help or compassion much appreciated
I wouldn't worry too much about filling the day with activities as such. I work 2 days a week and the 3 days I have with my toddler our routine is quite simple, wake up 7am breakfast and then walk DC1&2 to school. After school drop off we usually run some errands including going to the shops and then I walk home via the swings and slide and past the duck pond. Home for 11am, cup of tea/downtime for her playing with her toys and watching a bit of TV whilst i do some jobs, then we have lunch. After lunch we might draw or play in the garden or in the living room doing jigsaws or something and then I usually set off around 2.45 to walk to pick the kids up from school and she has a nap in the pram. Try not to stress about activities too much or be too hard on yourself, at this age they are very happy to just spend time with you! If the weather is nice go for a walk, even if it is to the shops. Getting outside helps me to break up what is otherwise a long day!
I always remember when my eldest started nursery aged 2.5 years and was having trouble settling in, we were trying to tell him all of the fun things and activities he would do there and he said very simply "But I just like you mummy..." what he meant was, I am just happy to be with you mummy at home, whatever we are doing (still makes me a bit emotional when I think of him saying it.) So try not to worry, you are doing great!
Go out, for a walk, to the park, exploring, balance bike, scooter, or whatever, but going out takes up lots of time! I wouldn't have got through lockdown without our daily outings!
Try and space things out a bit. Let him help you with some jobs too. Tell him you have to tidy up one job before the next starts. Its tough at that age, I felt exactly the same on days at home.. definitely get a walk each day, and feed ducks etc to fill time.
Same age and same schedule for us, I work three days then home with DD Thursday and Friday.
She wakes between 7-7.30 (thank god not an early riser). She lies in bed with dp and me, has a bottle and we read books. Then breakfast and then we play for a bit in the living room.
I try and get out as much as possible as I also feel the pressure to fill time and had PND when DD was a baby. We have just started baby ballet classes one morning a week, we have a membership at a nearby children's farm, we have two friends with similar age girls who we separately meet with for walks or playdates, and we live near a pebbly beach so if all else fails we walk down there. It sounds busy but it still feels like there's a lot of time to feel and I worry about too much tv. I can't stand crafts but we do play dough, colouring and drawing. She likes puzzles which can take up a bit of time.
She naps at about 1 for an hour and half. I usually give her TV time at 5 which is when I make dinner. She refused for the last few months to sit at the table for meals so dp and I tend to eat at the table while she runs around and then she ends up eating in front of Peppa pig.
It is hard filling a day with a toddler and I can't wait for her to play by herself for a decent amount of time!
Just leave him to play with his cars or trains. Help him set it up and leave him to it. No need to follow him around. Do things you enjoy with him.
Although if you're bored spend 20mins setting out loads of paint colours. Watch him make a brown mess on a bit of paper. Give him a bubble bath to clean all the paint off him, then spend an hour tidying up the mess. That's half the day.
There are plenty of mum bloggers and Facebook groups with ideas too.
My DD is 3 now so when she was 2 playgroups were still running. We regularly went to one group and occasionally to a second depending on my shifts. I also have an annual pass to a local aquarium, so we go to that once or twice a month and have cake afterwards. It's like a nice little tradition now! I've been doing that since she was tiny. Just getting out anywhere helps, like a pp said. I'm a much better Mum when I am out doing something rather than being at home all day. Also we circulate toys so that when she gets bored we can bring out "new" toys and that keeps her entertained. My DD did and does watch TV, I don't think there's any harm in having some chill time while I have a coffee!
My son is also 2. He can play on his own but mostly he just follows me around. The time does drag especially on the early wake up days, TV is a big help too.
Loading the washing machine.
Hoovering with his toy Dyson when I hoover up.
Passes me clothes to hang to dry.
I give him a cloth to dust when I am dusting.
Some soapy warm water in a old washing up bowl with a cloth and some toys he can wash (do this on kitchen floor for easy clean up)
Pass the football by rolling it and kicking it to each other.
Toot toot cars (favourite atm)
Play shops with his leap frog till
Making the bed, my son loves this for some reason.
Also I will lay on my bed and my son will clime over me and dive on me. (Not so fun for me but he loves it makes him laugh so much, least I get a lay down haha)
We mostly just got on with our own things, tidying, washing, shopping, reading whatever really and the kids were with or near us as needed.
I guess it depends a bit on the kid though.
With DC1 I used to play with him a few times a day and at other times he would
Follow me around while I cleaned and tidied, I used to give him a duster and encourage him to put stuff away from time to time but mostly he played about
Play in the garden while I did some gardening
Out of the house for a walk at least twice a day and at least one walk included the play park
Play in the kitchen with a box of toys kept there ( and some indestructible pots and pans ) while I cooked and washed up
He also used to love splashing about with a bowl of water and a few toys in the kitchen sink, yes it made everything wet but it did occupy him for quite a while
Go shopping, he enjoyed looking for things and finding them in the supermarket and I usually took him for a snack in the cafe which he loved
Go to a toddler group every week ( obviously not an option at the moment)
So I got stuff done and he was alongside me a lot, we talked a lot as I did stuff, he told me what he was doing and vice verse and I did play with him too, but by no means all the time. Plus he got the idea of not making too much of a mess at a young age!
But yes, he had bad days too....
Thanks lovely lot, you’ve made me feel a lot better. I think I have a lot of anxiety around my son- about what’s normal or what’s PND still, so never really sure if I’m doing it right. Obvs there’s no ‘right’ way, but try telling that to anxiety...
Ok, I have a non napping almost 2.5 year old (plus a baby) so a lot of day to fill, feel exactly the same. I try to break the day up like this....
7.30am - awake then milk & TV in our bed while I feed baby and drink coffee
8am - breakfast
8.30am - toys / free time in lounge maybe read a couple of stories, build towers etc.
9.15-9.30am - get dressed, clean teeth etc.
9.30am - start getting ready to leave for morning activity; baby sorted, coat, shoes, pack bag etc.
10am-12pm - morning activity e.g. walk to park to feed ducks, play on swings etc, toddler group (if running), meet a friend for toddler run around etc. swimming is one morning a week if we dont go somewhere then we might have a playdate at home (not so much at the moment) or errands e.g. food shop, nip in to town (walking)
12.15pm lunch (I try to stretch this out as long as possible)
1pm - afternoon activity...this is harder! Always walk dog though so that kills some time. Play in garden (paddling pool if good weather), walk to park if we haven't done that in the morning, visit to grandparents (live close) in non covid times we might take the bus in to the next town, soft plays are starting to reopen which are always a good shout.
3pm - free play in bedroom (different toys to lounge), read stories etc.
4pm - self imposed TV curfew, fireman Sam time which means I can cook dinner
5.15pm - dinner
6.15pm - milk, story
6.30pm - bed
As I'm on mat leave I have 3 days when he's not at nursery, 1 morning is swimming, 1 is toddler group so that helps. Try to walk everywhere as it takes longer, if your LO doesn't walk far they can always sit in buggy, you can sing to them / talk about what you can see e.g. count cars, colour of cars, etc.
Hi OP, I feel sure that this is most likely more of an issue for you than for your DS. Mine is older now (3.5) but from the start, as PPs have said, we've done a lot of outings. Those are great because he's really active and loves to run, roll around, spot creatures etc. Just going to a green space and spotting bugs can take up 2-3 hours of our morning! And I'm really into good waterproof/warm clothes so that weather doesn't stop us - if he has layers, waterproof hood & trousers and wellies, he literally enjoys it even if it's raining cats and dogs (me not so much but I'll take it!) He has also always done a lot of open-ended playing - loves even weird non-toy games like "this stick is a triceratops" or "this phone charger cable is a snake that needs to go to the vets"... That's just him though and I know lots of kids need more prompts and structure. I'm not a TV nazi and we do watch some everyday, I just try to stick to CBBC so he's not being bombarded with advertising, and to things that are a little bit calmer - Maddie at the Zoo and TikTak are recent faves! But if you feel yourself reaching for the remote and don't want to, or if it's been ages of screentime, I find its pretty easy to switch him over to reading fun books or doing some drawing - Paint Sticks are very good because not too messy and really nice for him to use. Good luck and please don't worry! I think children need hugs and care but don't really need a million activities to fill their days <3
My days at home with DS is:
6.30ish wake up and nappy change.
Up to 7am, he plays with his cars while I make breakfast.
7-7.30: he eats breakfast (yes, it takes this long.)
7.30: get dressed and washed
7.45: plays with cars again
8: dad takes him out for a walk while I get ready/have some time alone
9: morning activity: sometimes sit in the car/go to watch the trains/go to a coffee shop sometimes all 3.
10: snack time
10.30: plays with cars again while I do some chores
11.30 - 1.30: naptime then he sits and cuddles me for a while as he gets grumpy when he wakes up.
2ish: afternoon activity. We usually go out again. Sometimes I just put him in the buggy and go for an hour long walk and then go to the playground.
4.30ish: plays with cars again
5pm: TV time or plays with his dad. Whem his dad is away this is the most difficult part of the day
But he is mad about his cars. He would happily play with them all day while inside. He has so many other toys and he plays with them for 10/15 mins but no longer than that. I have tried other things like baking/playdough/singing/dancing but he's car mad and loves being outside so I go along with it.
I find it quite a dull life and am going back to work FT now.
I don't play before 9am! DD can get toys out but I'm not joining in until I'm awake, dressed and have done the basic chores of tidying away breakfast things, emptied the dishwasher and sorted washing.
After that depends on what we've got planned and the weather. We might have a play date or see grandparents, go the library, go the park, feed the ducks, soft play, swimming, supermarket, trip to a coffee shop. We do a toddler class once a week and when the world was "normal" we'd often go and meet DH for lunch. At home, we do things like play with toys (she leads), baking, painting, play doh, get the sofa cushions off and jump over those, drawing, reading, sticker books. She'll help with putting the duster round and with the hoover, or help in the garden. We have TV a couple of times a day mostly when I need to get stuff done like make dinner or if we just need a rest!
I have a dd 22 months, luckily she doesn’t wake till 8:30 ish usually. We do free play upstairs and tidy things, then downstairs and long breakfast usually until 9:30, always 3 course 🤣 then we shower together and play in the water with toys or washing mummy’s hair ect. Then both cuddle a bit and watch tv, get ready then depending on the day we have swimming Monday at 10:30 for example or a music group or a walk or park depending on weather or free independent play and I’ll watch something on my phone on Netflix 🙈 Then it’s back lunch time cuddles story and nap, she naps like 1-4! Mad amount of time lol. Sometimes wake earlier at 3 then a dog walk or park/maybe and activity to wear her out for bed. Dinner between 5-6 bath every other day depending on shower. Then bit of tv, teeth brush about 5 stories 🤣 as she’s mad on them then bed between 7-8 depending on nap wake up. I put classical music on and leave her with lamp book and rabbit then go up and turn lights out 8:30/9 and she’s always asleep. Days gone so quick every day! When she sleeps I chill 😎
Do understand I’m very lucky with her wake ups. She’s in bed for 7 but plays and “reads” listens to music and doesn’t sleep until maybe 8, but she’s wanting to go to bed usually from 6:30 onwards and it’s a struggle to keep her downstairs! She just loves her bed so much. Most mornings I have to wake her 8:30, longest she’s slept is 10 but I think she just needs a lot of sleep.
My 2 year old loves to ‘help mama’ so I get him involved in all the chores - unloading the dishwasher, sorting the laundry, dusting, taking the recycling out. It kills a lot of time. I do actively play with him a lot but I try to avoid doing too many ‘activities’ as that needs a lot of input from me. I find that if I set him up with a game (play kitchen, dolls house, animals) he will then carry on independently. But things like play dough etc he just wants me involved the whole time.
A general day looks like
7.15 - wake up and breakfast
7.45-8.30 - plays and reads books, usually with DH
8.30-9.30 - we all get washed and dressed. He has a few toys in our room so amuses himself whilst we’re getting ready. He likes to put his make up on and pretend to blow dry his hair 😂
10 - Snack and then we usually walk to the shop for bread, milk etc. He’s pretty slow so this will usually take up until lunch time at 11.30
12.15-1.30 nap and then snack
In the afternoon we usually spend an hour or so in the park. Usually 3 or so episodes of Sarah and Duck. I get him to help with house work. We do some dancing.
Dinner at 5.
I don’t have many toys out at once and rotate them every couple of weeks which I find really works for him. Also we have lots of open ended toys that he can be very independent with.
DS is 3 now so he's a preschooler rather than a toddler, but when he was 2 we would go out every morning (to a group/activity or to the park or to do errands) and then after lunch he'd have a nap, then I'd let him watch a bit of TV. So there were only ever manageable time slots to fill with playing at home.
When he dropped his nap (shortly before third birthday) that was a challenge - although it did mean we could stay out later and didn't have to get home for nap, which also meant not having to get out earlyish in the morning.
Of course the biggest challenge was lockdown when nursery closed, all the activities and groups stopped, and we couldn't even go to the playground 😭 Now they were tough days to fill!
Getting outside, regardless of weather, is the key for me. Throw whatever you need (snacks and water for both of you, spare clothes, whatever) in a bag... take the buggy/ back carrier or balance bike if you use any of those and just walk (or scoot or push as required) and cruise around. Have a simple mission - eg playground, or to the shop to choose something for tea, or for a coffee... But basically just cruise together at toddler pace checking out whatever ... its boring as hell for you (but occasionally delightful), and great fun for a toddler and fills in A LOT of time. And getting home again always feels awesome.
I tend to have mornings at home playing and doing the washing etc (I work 4 days) then we always always go out somewhere. I have annual passes for places as will always use them on my mid week day off.
So first off, while some of it is my toddler's nature, I've put a lot of effort into forstering independent play. Mostly by setting out some interest toys, getting on with the housework and saying "I will be with you in 5 mins" and then increasing that time as he got better at playing by himself. Then after that time, we sit and play together.
Minute by minute:
Pre 7am. If he is up early we cuddle in bed together. Sometimes chat and sing songs, sometimes read books. Sometimes he roams around upstairs and bring me random things. I don't bother about him being bored or whining before this time. It should be sleep time anyway.
7am. I jump in the shower. He can join, play with water in the sink ... or unroll the loo roll.
Go downstairs for breakfast. Sometimes he wants to go play by himself for a bit first, if there is a toy he is really into. Sometimes straight to breakfast. He gets out his bowl, spoon etc. Pours all the ingredients out, tries to spread butter on his own toast etc. Takes ages. He has one of those kitchen helper towers, which helps contain the mess to one spot.
Maybe put a laundry on. Again he helps. Takes ages. Drink cup of tea while he watches the machine spin for a bit.
Get dressed. Encourage him to try and put bits on himself. Takes ages.
Around 9am. Head out to toddler group (they are running again in my area), playground, sandpit, library, swimming pool, farm park, etc.
Around 11:30am, head back home.
Noon - lunch
12:30 or 1pm. Nap.
3:30 wakes up. Might hang out upstairs and read books for a bit. Might clean bathrooms, hoover, change sheets. Again, he helps. Has his own cloth or hoover attachment to play with. Throws dirty laundry down the stairs.
4:00 snack. Maybe 20 mins of TV if the baby needs some quiet time.
We stay home in the afternoon. We might get out a big toy like the train set and build it together. And I'll try and catch his interest by adding something new, like some conkers for the trains to move around, or a dragon terrorising one of the train stations, or a shed for the trains to sleep in. Sometimes this will capture his imagination and he will get into playing a new game by himself.
We might go play in the garden. On a summer's day there would probably be a lot of water play and gardening outside. Otherwise kicking a ball, riding a bike etc. At the moment he likes cutting leaves off the trees.
Some more cleaning if we are bored. He gets the broom while I mop, or something. He hands me clean things from the dishwasher.
Of course we usually have to cook. He has a bowl to wash all the vegetables for me. He chops we soft things with a butter knife. Pours pasta into the empty saucepan, things like that.
By 6:30, DH is home and we eat, clean up and put kids to bed.
Up to bed at 7:30, ideally all sorted by 8pm.
If there is any dead time I fill it with:
baths - more fun if you both get in. It sometimes I bring a book to read while he splashes about
writing a shopping list: I write the real one, he has his own pen and paper and we discuss what he would like to buy, and who should add what to their own list. He makes lots of squiggles on his list.
letting him play at the kitchen sink. Just set him up in the kitchen helper tower with some cups or pots.
gardening - there are always more weeds.
books - some days he can read forever, some days he is not into it.
something new - a box, a toy he hasn't seen for ages, playing with something he used to be too small for.
decluttering! This is great. He gets to pull everything out of a cupboard he doesn't usually get to look in and examine all the cool stuff. I try and sort through things and decide what need ato go back in and what can go in the bin. Sometes we discover a favourite new toy, like a hairband, tin, spoon, hat, tape measure. Toddlers are weird like that. If you have loads of time, you can even take some bits to the charity shop/recycling centre and discuss where it all goes. Mine loves that sort of thing.
running errands - supermarket, hairdresser, new shoes, post office.
more TV - last resort when we are sick.
Maybe post your minute by minute at the moment and we can suggest tweaks, or things to fill the time.
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