Somewhere along the line, I became convinced I needed to keep my toddler occupied. Maybe it was all those Pinterest posts … “20 Crafts for 1 Year Olds”, “Activities Your Toddler Will Love”, “Keep Your 2 Year Old Busy for Hours”. Maybe those things made it seem like every parent is doing crafts and activities while her toddler is blissfully engaged.
So I read the posts, and I even bought a book of toddler activities. I diligently laid out age-appropriate crafts and tried to show my daughter how they worked while she struggled to get down from the table, then ran off to play. She loves to color, paint, and especially finger paint, but she is not interested in being told how to do these things. She just wants to draw and be left alone. At most, she wants me to draw with her.
She also is not interested in the activities I try to direct her towards. I’ve hidden toys around the room for her to find, but she thinks chase the cat is a better game. I set up two baskets for her to sort balls into, and she takes the baskets and fills them with random items. And sometimes the cat.
I think the crafts and activities are more for me than her. She made this point clear to me this weekend. My husband and I met doing medieval reenactment with the Society for Creative Anachronism here in Birmingham. We still enjoy this and are just now starting to take our daughter to events. We went to a large gathering in Mississippi this past weekend. My almost-2 year old spent literally hours playing in the dirt and finding rocks, putting them in the wagon, showing them to people, burying them, and just running in the grass. She was so happy to use her imagination and just play.
Maybe she’ll enjoy these crafts more when she’s a little older. Maybe some kids enjoy them all along. I don’t know. But I do know my daughter isn’t interested, and I’m going to stop pushing her to do things she doesn’t want to do just because I think stay-at-home moms are supposed to. In fact, I’m going to make an effort to stop thinking about what I think I’m supposed to be doing and just do what’s right for me, my child, and my family instead of what works for other people’s families. My daughter and I will both be happier with less pressure.