If you’ve arrived here from Pinterest hoping I have a magic trick to keep your adorable little monster entertained for more than 20 seconds, I understand. I’ve been like you. And I’m sorry to disappoint.
A few months ago, because Pinterest knows far too much about me from my pinning habits, I started seeing pictures of well-behaved toddlers in tidy rooms with captions like ‘Quiet-time for two-year olds’ and ‘How to entertain your toddler… quietly’ and ‘How to have half an hour to yourself in the middle of the day with minimum effort and no mess to clean up’. (Okay, maybe not the last one, but that was definitely the gist.)
I was intrigued. I was hopeful. Maybe, I thought, maybe she’ll play by herself for a bit. Maybe I’ll be able to spend ten minutes without hearing the words ‘Mummy do it’. Maybe, let’s not get carried away, but maybe, I can drink a cup of tea while scrolling through Pinterest undisturbed!
I was sold.
I went to the pound shop (dollar shop. Whatever) and bought some pom-poms, some buttons and some beads in nice bright colours. I plonked my daughter down in front of them, gave her some squares of felt and explained that she could sort them into big, medium and small or into colours.
She started off alright. (She wasn’t really sorting them correctly, but she was putting them on squares and seemed occupied so that was good enough for me.) I took a few photos to document this amazing event and even sent one to some antenatal-class friends.
Two minutes later, the pom-poms, beads and buttons were scattered across the floor and my daughter was whining to be let down from the table.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of the matter. I would have been happy to put everything away until she was a bit bigger, could concentrate for longer than two minutes and be trusted not to lob everything on to the floor. But my daughter never forgets. Ever. She’s two and remembers the places that gave her stickers when she was 16 months old and demands them as soon as we return. So she wants pom-poms. All the time. She loves them. But she does not love playing nicely with them on her own. She enjoys spreading them around the floor, putting them in her ears, putting them in the baby’s ears and hiding them underneath soft furnishings.
So instead of having ten minutes to myself, I spend (at least) ten minutes crawling around on the floor searching for elusive pom-poms in case one finds its way into the baby’s mouth.
It could be worse. I could have thought that sensory tubs, glitter, moon sand or play dough looked like a good idea. I didn’t. I may be hopeful and naive, but I’ve not got that far. Yet.