Parenthood, in my experience, often requires on-your-toes planning and quick thinking. Is that rickety-looking slide safe for my toddler? Are there any potential allergens in this snack? Do I have time to stream another episode of UnReal before nap time is over? Sometimes, the answers are simply a quick “yes or no,” and sometimes it’s much more complicated. Sometimes, we’re forced to step up and get creative while parenting.
This can be easier said than done, I understand, especially when we’re sleep deprived and running on caffeine (and only caffeine), but it can also be kind of fun and super rewarding. I mean, in the same way that indoor recess was not as awesome as outdoor recess, at least it's better than the alternative, which usually consists of sitting in a room and doing, well, nothing. Sure, there's probably something "better" and "easier" you could be doing, but piecing together an indoor, toddler-friendly activity when all you have at the ready are pipe cleaners, toilet paper and flour is better than doing nothing. I will find something educational and inspiring in that mix, or die trying.
Sure, sometimes (read: always) that creative thinking is born out of necessity, and that necessity can involve some less-than fun situations. However, at the end of the day, you can pat yourself on the back for getting the job done, and you can rest easy knowing that if all else fails, you can use your creativity in other ways. Creativity that was, probably, fostered during moments like these:
Coming Up With Song Lyrics
Sometimes the songs I make up are remixes of familiar tunes that we all know and love. Sometimes they're censored versions of popular Top 40 hits. Or, sometimes, they're censored versions of songs that were popular like, 20 years ago because my music tastes pretty much never evolved past my '90s tween years. Either way, my son seems to enjoy them. Sometimes.
Inventing New Activities On The Regular
Guess what we did with an empty Pack 'n Play and a bunch of plastic cups leftover from a barbecue? No, seriously. I really want you to guess.
Making Up New Stories
Once he learns to read, it might be a little complicated to re-invent the endings to some of his favorite books, um, every night. Until then, however, the sky's the limit. and this will continue to make it much easier for me to listen to some story about Elmo for the millionth time.
You haven't lived until you've seen what a toddler can do with clear plastic tape.
Finding Other General Forms Of Entertainment On A Tuesday Afternoon
We have six hours until bedtime? Time to roll up our sleeves, because it's about to get desperate. Oh, did I say desperate? I meant "fun." It's about to get fun. Sure.
Drawing Whatever They're Asking You To Draw
My elephant and fire truck skills have never been sharper. I'm trying to find a way to monetize this newfound skill, but have yet to find anything promising. If anyone knows anything or has some promising leads, let me know.
Doing Whatever Needs To Be Done To Elicit A Smile
I know I'm not alone, and that this is, like, Parenthood 101, but pretty much my main priority in life these days is to make my toddler laugh. There's nothing better in the world and, in certain situations, it's a freakin' life-saver. I mean, toddlers are one sly smile or stubbed toe away from balling their ever-lovin' eyes out, so when you're dealing with emotionally unstable mini-humans, being "funny" comes in handy.
Doing Whatever Needs To Be Done To Get Them To Sleep
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it takes a different set of skills to calm a cheerful toddler down enough to start their nap. We've got a good routine in our household, but I'm always looking to expand my repertoire.
Styling Yourself Around All The Stains
Ketchup on your favorite shirt? Chocolate finger prints on your favorite pants? Marker on everything? Don't worry, layers are always in. Of course, by "in," I mean "in my present reality."
Providing Entertainment While Driving Long Distances
I think my arms have grown 3-4 inches in the last year, thanks to all the reaching I do to get the rouge toy from the backseat.
Preparing Meals When You're Fresh Out Of Everything
Hungry toddler and absolutely no cheese, bananas, or chicken nuggets in the house? Challenge accepted.
Making Gifts And Keepsakes Of Their Handprints
Okay, my son is just two years old, but I strongly believe that we can never have enough art made from prints of his extremities. If we keep going at this rate, I'll have to turn my energies toward finding creative ways to store it all, but in the meantime, I'm not sorry.