Thursday, January 18, 2007
Relationship-Building Activities for You and Your Toddler
Last Friday Thingamababy published a post entitled, Bonding without Toys: Ten Interactive Activities for your Toddler and You. His post has got me to thinking and wondering, what relationship-building activities do I do with Snuggle Bug that don't involve toys?

Okay, bear with me, I'm going to do a bit of brainstorming here and just toss ideas out as they come to me, in no particular order of importance. I realize that some may be duplicates of what Thingamababy has listed. What can I say, great minds think alike.

  1. Visit the library. Oronzo and I been taking Snuggle Bug to baby and toddler story times since he was about 6 months old. He loves them! Oronzo is usually the one that takes him to a couple of different ones each week, since he's the one home with him during the week, but occasionally I get to. The story times involve singing, dancing, coloring, playing with other children, and of course, stories. Best of all, the parents get to socialize as well. The kids have fun, the adults have fun. It's a win-win situation. After the story time is finished, I like to take Snuggle Bug into the children's area of the library and let him pick out books to read.
  2. Visit neighbors. We moved into our house about a year and a half ago. It didn't take us long to realize that when we were out walking with Snuggle Bug, neighbors enjoyed stopping us for a chat. We've gotten to the point now where we'll walk over to a neighbor's house, ring the doorbell, and know that we'll be invited in for a chat and a snack. Many of our neighbors are elderly and they dote over Snuggle Bug.
  3. Take walks. We love taking Snuggle Bug for walks. Sometimes he rides in his stroller or wagon, sometimes he walks, sometimes he does both. I make sure never to be in a hurry because it's amazing what he likes to explore along the way. A caterpillar inching it's way across the sidewalk can provide several minutes of enjoyment!
  4. Go to church together. We go to mass nearly every Sunday. Snuggle Bug has always been right there with us, since he was 3 days old. Now that he's a bit older, he imitates us by kneeling on the kneeler, looking at the missal, and repeatedly singing "alleluia" with gusto. He loves observing the pianist and the older children singing in the children's choir (we hope one day he'll join), he can't wait for his turn to put our donation envelope in the basket, and even the priest's "clean-up" duties after communion fascinate him. He also has fun flirting with the members that surround us. After mass, we treat ourselves to brunch at our favorite local cafe.
  5. Go for a bike ride. Not long ago we bought a children's bike seat and attached it to Oronzo's mountain bike. We also bought a children's bike helmet. Snuggle Bug absolutely loves to go on bike rides. Often times we will bike a mile or so to a nearby Starbucks and stop for a muffin and hot chocolate. Biking as a family is a lot of fun!
  6. Go shopping. Yes, that's right, we purposely take our toddler shopping with us, and not just when we have errands to run. Sometimes we go shopping just to get out and explore. Because we've been doing this with Snuggle Bug from day one, he's actually well behaved in any store that we go into. He doesn't break things, he likes to look and touch, but we're careful and so is he. His favorite place to go is Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts where he loves to feel all the different textures of the bolts of fabrics. The varying colors attract him too!
  7. Cook meals and eat together. It never ceases to amaze me how interested Snuggle Bug is in cooking. Pull a chair up to the counter, tie an apron on him, and give him a mixing spoon, and he's happy as a lark. We try to eat at home often and when we do, we make a point to sit down at the table and eat as a family.
  8. Read books together. This should be a given, but I'm going to list it anyway. Not a day goes by that we don't read a book to Snuggle Bug. Despite the fact that he has 3 bookshelves of books all his own in his room, he also gets more books weekly from the library. He has a huge, stuffed turtle in one corner of his room and that's where he likes to take books and thumb through them. He has books in nearly every room of the house and often brings us books for us to read to him. Snuggle Bug's vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds and I attribute the largest part of that to the time we spend reading with him.
  9. Go on excursions. We have annual memberships to our local zoo, children's museum, and the botanical gardens. We use those memberships frequently! We also go to parks to feed the ducks or to attend outdoor concerts, school playgrounds to play on the slides, aquariums to pet sea lions, on trails to do some hiking and exploring, and to pet stores to touch lizards, turtles, birds, hamsters, and even snakes. Going to bookstores is a favorite treat as well, even when we don't buy a thing. I find myself looking at our city calendar of events to see what is scheduled each week. This past weekend we attended a local Family Arts Festival that I found listed on the calendar of events.
  10. Dance, sing, and get dizzy together. Snuggle Bug loves when we sing together at home or in the car, especially if it involves hand actions (like the Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus). Most of the time, we sing a cappella and make up the lyrics as we go. As for dancing, he can shake his diapered bottom like there's no tomorrow! Oh, and he loves when the dance involves jumping, which it nearly always does. He gets giddy when I make him dizzy by holding his hands and twirling him 'round and 'round in circles until we both fall over laughing.
  11. Have a tickle tumble on the bed. Snuggle Bug loves being tickled and our big bed seems the perfect place on which to roll around and tickle each other. Most of the time, we're still in our pjs and sometimes bopping each other with pillows gets mixed in with the tickles. Laughter swirls high into the air and we take frequent rest breaks where we snuggle together with legs, arms, or fingers, tangled together in a cozy twist. Tickle tumbles are one of my personal favorites.

Okay, I've listed many of my frequent relationship-building activites that don't involve toys. Now you try. If you decide to do your own post on this topic, or if you want to just offer me a few of your favorites, please leave me a comment!


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5:30 AM

At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should have done a thursday 13 on this......I loved your ideas....we are going to the library today...we do almost all of these.

At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont know who hosts it...I found it through Barb at A Chelsea Morning.....she has the Code to get your's just 13 things about you...a meme for people to get to know you better......

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Nancy said...

You are doing all the right things with snuggle bug. I taught kindergarten for 32 year and raised 2 children so I think the things you mentioned are great child development activites. The best one (I think) is reading aloud which promotes literacy and at the same time allows you the snuggle time with snuggle bug. Enjoy each moment because they grow up so fast... you are a great Mom... keep up the excellent job you are doing.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Nancy, you are a great Mom. I have a post started that I plan on posting tomorrow that is very similar!!

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are some awesome ideas and I will definitely have to try a few of them out. We LOVE going shopping, even if we don't buy anything. It's just great to be out, in the world, and enjoying each other's company. Great ideas!!

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous chelle said...

These are so wonderful! What a great idea! I may have to remind myself all the great things we do and can do in a future blog post!

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this idea -- I'm putting it on my to do list for my new blog... Favorite Ways to Interact with The Boy!

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I'm looking forward to Favorite Ingredient Friday tomorrow. I'm trying out a new recipe tonight, and if it works out I'll be happy to share it!

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Barb said...

I've always thought that you're just a great mom, OW. It's very obvious that your child is the absolute center of your lives, as he should be.

I must have a great mind too :-) because we're definitely on the same page. I can't begin to tell you how important I think it is to turn the TV off, put the toys away and interact with that child. I did it with my daughters and I'm doing it with my grandbaby.

I read to him every afternoon, just before his nap, from "Grandma's Magical Storybook," a Christmas gift to me from Krissy and Andy when they were still pregnant with Cameron.

He's only 18 months old but he loves it so much, if I leave the book in reach, he picks it up and hands it to me with such a look of hope on his little face, I just stop what I'm doing and read to him some more.

And the tickle sessions make my day. How he giggles!

It is so important to expose children to things that make them use their brains. TV and toys do the thinking for them. It's OK in small doses but should be used sparingly in my opinion.

I love this post.

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Barb said...

PS - I see that Jen mentioned Thursday Thirteen. They have their own official web site. Just google Thursday Thirteen and you'll see it. You really would be good at Thursday Thirteens. And they have hundreds of adorable banners that fit in well with the things you post.


At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this post! Thanks for the gentle reminder. Some of these things I am still doing, others I need to restart.

At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I loved this post! I have missed you, btw- Its good to see you again!

Thank you for your prayers for my Emma Grace- they mean more than you will ever know!


At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love these ideas. I like to try to get my boys involved in interactive activities all the time too - either with each other or friends or me or other adults. It's hard to think of a list that doesn't include toys like balls or art materials though LOL! How about:
1. digging in the garden
2. playing in the snow
3. splashing in the sink "washing dishes"
4. helping with housework: sweeping the floor or sorting clean laundry
5. walking the dog or feeding the fish
6. playing ring around the rose and duck, duck, goose
7. playing verbal games like I Spy
8. making up poems, rhymes, and riddles
9. making play dough or bubbles (google for a recipe)
10. cutting pictures out of magazines and making puzzles or collages


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