Working and playing with my two-year-old

I made a goal recently to spend more time with Red Chief. I want to sit down and do things with him, go out and play with him, really pay attention to him. My former strategy of keeping him busy while I got the work done just wasn't working; I needed to work with him.

I thought the first day I started focusing more on Red Chief that I would be tired, bored, and that nothing would get done around the house. I'm so happy that I was wrong!

Now that I focus more on Red Chief and less on myself and the housework, we're both happier. I'm no longer driven crazy each day by the antics of a toddler constantly vying for my attention. Red Chief is learning new things, and I'm enjoying the spontaneity of spending time with a toddler.

Yesterday, we painted with watercolors. Instead of setting him up, running away to do the dishes, then coming back and scolding him for drinking the water and painting his pants, I sat down with him. He painted three pages and was thrilled when I painted his name at the bottom of one. He even named most of the letters correctly for me.

He wanted "ABC soup" for lunch at 10:00, so I told him he could help me make some. I chopped the carrots and potatoes, and he (very slowly, two at a time) transferred them into the pot for me. We talked about the ingredients and he really enjoyed pouring the pasta into the pot at the end.

While I worked in the kitchen, Red Chief played with cookie cutters and transferred the contents of a few cupboards onto the floor. He squished a few cookie cutters beyond recognition and made a huge mess, but I decided not to make a big deal out of it. After all, I have far too many cookie cutters anyway, and the mess really only took five minutes to clear up after he was in bed for his afternoon nap.

Anyway, my point is that we're both happier when I focus more on my son. It's not all about me: it's about him (just ask him!). When I bow to the attention that toddlerhood demands, there are fewer uncontrolled messes (no flooded sink this week!), more smiles and learning, and more love.


I've been collecting ideas lately for activities to do with Red Chief. Here are some that I have tried and want to try soon:

Since the attention span of a two-year-old is so short, I'm always looking for more ideas. What do you do with your young children? How do you incorporate them into your daily tasks?


  1. Great lesson learned!

    Mo and I read books together. He enjoys this more than I do, as the Big Truck book doesn't thrill me.

    We like to play on hotwheels.com together.

    Mo also loves to help in the garden. He will dig and dig. Unfortunately it's too cold for me to do any gardening, but he doesn't mind me watching him dig the snow piles that haven't melted yet.

  2. The joy of being stay at home mom is doing things WITH your child, as you have found. My youngest (and only child at home) is in sixth grade and loves to play card and board games. There was a period of time where we would play a game together right after school, but schedules derailed that. Your post has made me resolve to start doing that again. Thank you!

  3. Congratulations. I was a really good mom like that when my kids were younger. Now that I have four and they are all different ages, I've noticed that I've stopped doing it. You are the second blog this week that has reminded me that life went smoother, when we did things like that. I need to get back on the ball.

    Thanks and ♥hugs♥

  4. I really loved this post! It is such a valuable lesson to those of us with little ones, to make sure that we are not missing out on all this amazing time as they learn how to learn! You sound like a wonderful lady, and from your little boy's busy day you are doing a great job.

    Hope you have lots more days like this together! Blessings and joy to you both!

  5. Thank you for this post.

    I've also felt the pull to stop doing exactly what you just described (cleaning and leaving my girl to play by herself).

    A year ago I bought books to get ideas on activities to share with my girl and I haven't attempted one.
    The guilt has been gnawing at me.

    Tomorrow I am pulling out the watercolors. She will love this, and so will I.

    Take care and have fun with your son.

  6. How great to be spending more quality time with your son. I know sometimes life seems to busy and hardly anytime to really enjoy! Great job.

  7. this is so great. that's the kind of mom i want to be one day.

  8. You found the secret! And thank goodness with him so young will be blessed on days like these. Enjoy him, mom, and life is smoother. When I remember that I can feel the spirit so strong, and no matter what, say 'this was a good day'
    Good for you!

  9. I have to constantly remind myself of this, too!

    My 2 1/2 yr old and I like to:

    -clean house (she gets a spray bottle with water and a rag and can go to town on windows or her plastic toys)

    -cut paper (she is SO into cutting paper and it worked out great today to sit together at the table while I scrapbooked and she cut and glued paper)

    -play the game where she cooks for me or where she's the drive in/store person and asks me what I want, and I order

    -Playdough! with cookie cutters and rolling pin

    -Dance party-- this is one where the togetherness is really important. She'll do it with me but not alone

    -Looking at photo albums/online pictures of family members who live far away

  10. Great post!! I could really take a lesson from this one. I get so little done anyway, that I might as well just be enjoying my tots, instead of stressing over what's not getting done. And perhaps if I am more involved with them, the messes will be smaller, and I can teach them how to clean up.

  11. I have 4 children and would spend this time w/them too. That is what being a stay at home mom is. You have all day to take care of things. Wait for the siblings to come.