Toddlers have a very short attention span. I mean really short. I mean a goldfish might just probably pay you more attention than a toddler would. Today I planned a lovely morning of painting followed by water play – am I mad I hear you ask? Well yes quite probably I am as the painting lasted all of five minutes and the water play resulted in us both needing a complete change of clothes. As my tiny lady hates getting changed this kicked off a screaming match ending in a tangle of limbs and me just leaving her in her vest until nap time. I kept the heating on so I didn’t feel too bad.
So two activities; each barely taking any time at all but both involved more prep and clean up time than actual play time. Such is the lot in life of a toddler parent. You kill yourself thinking up new things you can do together, you goggle toddler games and construct complicated activities and for what? Five minutes and they have gone back to playing with the cardboard box left over from the last toy you were seduced into buying for them.
What’s the solution? Early childhood developmental experts stress play as the single most important factor in early childhood education. So we muddle along trying to fill each day with positive learning experiences. But what we often forget is that these experts site all types of play as important not just parent-led activities. Child-led play and solo play are just as vital to a child’s development.
So the next time you see your toddler pottering along tipping lots of toys on the ground in a seemingly random manner but appearing to be totally engrossed, don’t feel obliged to join in. Take a well earned break and sit down. I guarantee you will only get about five minutes anyway so enjoy it!