One of the greatest lessons I learnt during recovery and early parenthood is that it’s okay not to love every moment you spend with your children.
Firstly, we’re all unique and therefore our parenting strengths and weaknesses are going to be unique too. I felt devastated that I didn’t find the early days of motherhood natural or blissful but I now realise that I’m better at this stage of parenting – being a primary school mum and teaching my son more about the ways of the world.
Secondly, I’m just going to say it – sometimes parenting is boring. And frustrating and stressful. This is just a fact universally acknowledged (or almost universally and I know those who don’t feel this way are most definitely not my village!). Give up any guilt you feel about this and your life will be much more enjoyable, I promise.
Thirdly, we all enjoy different hobbies and interests and therefore we’re all going to enjoy sharing different activities with our children. One parent’s source of relaxation might be another parent’s source of unbearable stress. Once you find what child-friendly activities bring you joy unashamedly stick with them.
With this in mind, today I’m sharing 7 toys and activities I share with my five year old that we both enjoy and that I find relaxing and therapeutic.
Is there anything more soothing than sorting those tiny plastic beads into the right colours and helping your child count and place and follow their chosen pattern? My son loves Hama Beads but sometimes gets bored towards the end and asks me to finish it off – this is my favourite part of the process!
I know many parents find any form of messy play particularly stressful but I actually really enjoy it. All kids love mess and nothing is ever permanently ruined so I say have at it! And I can’t be alone because slime-making has become extremely popular in recent years. Who knew combining glue and contact lens solution with your choice of food colours and glitter could be so satisfying?
An obvious choice I suppose but reading and looking at picture books with my son was one of the first activities I truly enjoyed during recovery and it’s continued ever since. Now he can read himself too this activity has a whole new level to explore. As a bonus it’s quiet and gives you an excuse for a good snuggle!
Many of you know how helpful I found colouring during recovery and this began when I started doing it alongside Caterpillar. Creativity can be an amazing outlet for Anxiety and colouring is a great place to start because it’s straightforward but still soothing. It’s great for keeping the kids calm too.
Singing & Dancing
Not something we all want to try in public but another early activity I enjoyed when Caterpillar was very small was singing to him. At the time I was very concerned about our bond and whether or not I was enjoying being a mum (thanks to Postnatal Anxiety!) so finding that singing was one of the things I really loved was a relief. We really got into this when we joined Baby Sensory and began singing and signing the “say hello to the sun” song!
Read more: The Benefits Of Baby & Toddler Classes
In addition to singing, having a dance party in the house never fails to lift both mine and Caterpillar’s spirits – especially useful when I’m feeling particularly mentally drained and physically exhausted. Forcing myself off the couch to have a good dance with one of our favourite songs blaring definitely gives the endorphins a little boost.
Lego (with instructions!)
Some of you will recall my post for a couple of years ago – Are you a player? – where I expressed my panic when faced with a box of bricks! This hasn’t really changed but in recent years I have begun really enjoying the therapeutic process of creating from Lego when following the instructions. This can be a really relaxing process because it’s so logical and methodical, plus I love watching Caterpillar learn and improve when it comes to building. Because the stages are quite simple but still require a level of concentration it can be a great opportunity for mindful play too.
Taking a journey together
I tend to have my most enlightening conversations with Caterpillar on bus journeys. I think it’s because we’re in close quarters with few distractions. As he’s grown I’ve really started to look forward to our little trips and the titbits of school life and 5-year-old wisdom he bestows on me. But it doesn’t have to be a bus journey. Going for a drive or a walk with your little one can give you both a boost, especially if you incorporate some nature too.
What are your favourite kid-friendly activities? Let me know in the comments.