On another blog, I left this comment. I decided I wrote enough about our summer routines that I want to share it here too. While hard at first, we have ultimately been really glad that we decided to keep Julie out of daycare for the summer so that we could spend more time with her. We will ultimately have 8 full weeks of hanging out with our wonderful kid, and it has been such a joy.
At first, there was some desperation. The transition to having our little one home full-time when the school year ended was rough. But we did figure it out, especially with googling “stay at home mom of toddler tips” and such. The first few days were just us playing with her on the floor all the time and getting worn out from so much direct interaction. Plus, she didn’t nap because her routine was all different. She starts back at “school” in two weeks, and now I’m pretty sad I won’t get to hang out with her awesome self all day long.
What did work was to set up a routine that included getting out of the house. We hit up library story time regularly, did sensory activities (playing with flour was a big hit), traded off so neither of us got exhausted, and went for a LOT of walks. As in, miles of walking. Recently, swim lessons and biking have put some good routine in to our life, and we’ve been to three state parks in the past week. Little one loves the hiking backpack.
We often wear her in a baby carrier. That's great for development (of abs and of ears). We also love the baby carrier for the ease of movement and napping potential.
I set up a bit of a toy rotation, and that helped too with playing. I also made some toys for something different to do. An empty kleenex box (for putting stuff into and out of) was a bit hit. I also tied together a string of bandanas and stuffed them into an empty container. Even after many times of play, she’s still amazed by how much she can pull out.
We learned songs at baby class, and we do those. The songs all have motions. I also found some toddler music station on Pandora. I seem to know almost all the songs; they play stuff from when I was growing up. My dad is a kid music enthusiast, so I pretty much heard all the most common stuff.
Books! We have read so many books. We do spend time talking about what we see on each page and pointing out different items. We talk a lot about animal sounds when animals are on the page. She knows what a bee says! We also talk about what might happen in the book. So, working on early reading comprehension. I think we usually do a half hour to an hour of reading per day, usually in chunks of 10-15 minutes. She now brings books over for us to read to her, and she definitely has favorites.
We also finally did Ferber because we were spending hours trying to get her to sleep in other ways with no success at all. After 5 nights, with each night seeing less crying, she now goes to sleep really easily at night and okay for naps. That went a long way to helping us feel refreshed and ready to interact during the day.
So, that’s my novel to answer my own question based on what we figured out this summer. We decided not to be afraid to go places, and so we go. We usually stay home for the afternoon nap, but if she doesn’t go down for that, then we just take her hiking and she falls asleep in the carrier. Stealth napping!
It has been a wonderful summer with our kid.