Activity Time: Drawing Toddler Away from the Screen

I click the remote, maneuvering to her favorite show on our smart TV: Daniel Tiger. She sits and watch, semi-quietly, as I debrief from the day. The moment alone just for a minute is so gratifying - the time when you can go to the restroom without the running patter of feet coming to find you.

Oh how convenient to shove the screen in her face everyday if I could! But unfortunately, that's not how I wish to parent my daughter. I want a real connection and interaction with her daily. Even though a very teachable show, I don't wish Daniel Tiger to shape her reality and to ultimately parent her. I do not want the screen to replace time that was meant for me to spend with her. This method of parenting allows me, as a parent, to be intentional with my child as well. Putting down my own technology to step away from the screen time of social media or emails.

Bonding and quality time activities I have found great with an active toddler:

  1. Poster board and paint. Allowing her to use her fingers, paint brushes and other painting utensils enhances her creativity while allowing her to be independent.

  2. Play-Doh. Gathering play doh cutters and fun shapes keeps her busy making pizza pies or rainbows.

  3. Notebook paper and markers (doodling). Self explanatory.

  4. Puzzles. She is up to the 24 piece puzzles. I do them with her a couple of times so she knows the full picture before handing them over for her to do alone. As she works independently, I praise her as she goes so she keeps trying to figure out the pieces.

  5. Dancing to her Kidz Bop or Old McDonald Pandora station (she wears her tutu). Put on the Bluetooth speaker and I dance with her to her favorite tunes as she sings and dances herself.

  6. Helping me prepare the meal (her favorite) This engages her and also helps her eat what what we've prepared more than if I was cooking alone.

  7. Reading. I've noticed reading books surrounding her favorite characters (like Daniel Tiger) helps her engage independently.

  8. Sidewalk Chalk and Bubbles. Of course, weather friendly, this is an activity that allows her to enjoy outdoors and enjoy some sun rays.

  9. Old Fashion playing with toys. She has several toys including a kitchen with food, karaoke microphone, baby dolls galore with beds and strollers, princess dress up and many other things to keep her busy and imagination sharp!

  10. Tablet learning games. Okay, yes. This is another screen. I don't prefer it, but at least the tablet can be used for educational purposes. She currently has painting, tracing letters, shapes and numbers on her Amazon Fire Tablet. She loves it!

Of course, as a toddler, activity and attention span is not the longest if she has to work independent of me. I've had to step away from cooking or laundry to engage with her from time to time. As she is the only child, I usually expect that.

In a heart to heart conversation with one of my big sisters over the summer, she reminded me to be present. With two children of her own, she and her husband has found what works for them. As a single mom, these moments are challenging but being present in my toddler's life is what I ultimately long for.

This method took time for me to get into a rhythm with. I was so present, I was wearing and stressing myself out. In a day where technology is the new normal, I believe there's nothing wrong with screen time. I do, however, have a conviction about too much screen time. I have seen many of children zombies glued to a phone, TV or tablet - it scares me. Finding the right balance between the two, should work to establish a healthy developing kid.

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