10 Ideas for a Perfect Slow Day with a Toddler
Written by: Mama Bea , 30 Jan 2019
Because sometimes, the perfect way to spend a day is to not do much at all. To just be together, to observe, to think and really take in the environment. To have no plans, no place to be and no where to go. To not have to change out of your pjs and to drink endless cups of coffee whilst floating around the house humming to your favourite tunes. I think everyone needs these days where there's no pressure to leave the house and to just be present in your own space, and I've found this way of thinking to be incredibly important whilst looking after a young child. When Roscoe was a young baby I would easily worry about not making it to this class or that playgroup, getting anywhere for a specfic time just seemed extra stressful. It was only when I started to relax a little and trust my instints that I really started to appreciate our time and began to spend our days exactly how we wished to spend them. Not rushing to get dressed and out the door for a particular baby-related activity, but instead taking it slow and alleviating the pressure I had put on myself to go to all the new mum 'things'. Just letting Roscoe wander and play in a safe, open space back home, watching his imagination unfold as I do the washing or sit with a mug of coffee and send some emails in the background. All whilst knowing we will probably leave the house at some point, but only when the time feels right to do so. If we do eventually make it outside on one of these days, we generally have no plan or direction, but usually end up wandering through nature or the local market. When Roscoe isn't playing at home we will get on with the tasks of life together, such as loading the washing machine, stirring the porridge or sweeping the floor. Taking the time to really connect with the simple things, to not rush (and actually really enjoy) those everyday tasks. I also think there is immense power in not constantly throwing stimulation at young children and to sack all those toddler groups for nothing at all. I believe they do not need activities to keep them occupied all the time, there's something very special in leaving them to just be present. In watching them utilise the surroundings to create their own little universe. To let them take the lead with how they want to play in their own comfortable space. Never underestimate the importance of taking time to just be present, to breathe and reconnect, with ourselves and each other. In the past I may have equated days like this with boredom, but now I realise they are actually more akin to freedom.
These type of days aren't just for when we're at home either, I especially love a good slow day when we're travelling. They are perfect for providing that little bit of distance and reconnection necessary to process everywhere we've been and everything we've seen leading up to that point.
I've put together 10 different things I like to incorporate into our slow days to make them extra special. 10 simple, cost free ideas for when you feel like slowing down and reconnecting.
1. Doing Chores Together
There is something so magical in watching Roscoe learn and enjoy everyday chores. Who knew you could have so much fun loading the washing machine or putting veg away in the fridge? Getting him involved not only means he is directly observing why and how these things need to be done and does an excellent job of teaching him new words and concepts, but it also means I'm not rushing round trying to get all these things done when he is asleep. Roscoe particularly enjoys helping me put the cutlery away and hang up the washing. It's a wonderful world of learning new shapes and colours and making those traditionally boring tasks much more fun.
2. Creating our cosy space
This usually involves setting up some wooden toys, lighting a candle and putting on some background music. We also usually have a reading corner with bookshelves, soft toys and a small desk where Roscoe can draw. Hot coffee will be brewing in the cafetiere and we will be wearing our cosiest pjs. I will potter around doing occasional chores whilst Roscoe plays. Sometimes I will sit and read with him, other times I will sit with my hot beverage and my own book on the sofa, each in our own little worlds. I'm there if he needs me but I'm not actively partaking in his little universe at that moment. That sense of being together but apart has been essential for our developing relationship and it does wonders for Roscoe's independence. He may still be young, but he is a person with his own imagination and thoughts. Leaving him in a safe space to let his imagination run wild, whilst I am present in the background if he needs me, has been incredibly liberating for both of us.
3. Kitchen Disco
Everyone loves a good kitchen disco. It is something we end up doing numerous times a day even if we've been out. I particulary love to blast hits from musicals and prance around like a loon. Roscoe is just learning how to sing and watching him try the lyrics to The Greatest Showman is quite possibly one of the cutest things ever. There is nothing like a good dance around the room to loosen up the joints and it always helps a little if we're in a bit of a funky mood.
Similar to where I mentioned doing chores together above, baking gets Roscoe involved and is great at helping him learn new words and actions. I was never that keen on baking in the past but recently I've really got into experimenting with vegan cakes. Baking with a toddler obviously makes significantly more mess than if I had sneaked off to bake a cake in private but once I admitted that this was the case I was able to relax a little and just have fun. All the best cakes are made with love anyway (and speedy folding when the toddler isn't looking!).
Although I will occasionally sit down and read books to Roscoe, I do think it is of great importance for him to sit on his own with his books, even if he can't technically read yet. He has his own little bookcase next to a cuddly corner where he will often retreat with his soft toys to be by himself. Sometimes I will kneel down on his level and explain that I am going to do some work or reading myself and suggest he reads alone too. Yes there are times where he drags me around and insists I read a book to him, but there are also times where he happily trots off to pick a few books and settles down to go through them on his own. Thankfully, the latter is getting more frequent as he is getting older. We also try talk about books as much as possible in his presence, what I'm reading and what I want to read, stories we read as children, hunting around bookstores, trips to the library etc...It's never too early to develop a love of books.
5. Stretching Together
I'll be honest, I do find it pretty difficult to squeeze in a good yoga sesh when I have a train constantly choo chooing up and down my leg. I do, however, always try to do a bit of stretching and balances in the morning, mainly to wake me up. Roscoe sometimes jumps on the mat with me and attempts to copy what I'm doing, but he's often on the other side of the room doing his own thing. Just 10 minutes of stretching in the morning makes me feel re-energised and ready to relax into a slow day.
6. Wandering in the Woods
I realise not everyone has woodland on their doorstep, in fact our closest woods are a 15 minute walk away, but just getting outside into any green space is good for the soul, whatever the weather. Nature is the very best playground there is and Roscoe sometimes spends hours playing with sticks and running around trees. We often end up in the woods in the late afternoon on a slow day. However having no rush to get out also means we often catch the sunset when we later emerge from under the trees, making the day extra special.
7. Late Afternoon Veg Haul
One of our absolute favourite things to do is wander along to the market towards the end of the afternoon. After a long slow day at home it does wonders for making me feel like I've been really productive and Roscoe loves getting involved by picking out fresh fruit and veg. Another benefit of going towards the end of the day is that we're likely to pick up lots of reduced stuff too, such as a (tote) bag full of peppers for only one pound or a 2 for 1 offer on the cauliflowers (literally the epitome of excitement).
8. Visit the Local Train Station
Roscoe has travelled around 15 countries yet nothing beats the excitement of watching trains come and go, with or without a train ticket. I bring a flask of hot coffee for me and sit back to watch as his little face lights up every time he gets to wave at a passing train. Such a simple activity and so wholesome.
9. Go for a Picnic
If the urge to leave the house rises around lunchtime we will often wrap up some sandwiches (and cake) and head to a local field or park to eat. Even better in winter with red noses, hand warmers and a flask of hot tea. Sandwiches just taste better when eaten in nature. The bonus of this is that no crumbs are left peppered all over the kitchen floor, meaning we can return to a relatively clean kitchen (parent points right there!).
10. Daytime Baths
There is something so wonderful about giving a little one a daytime bath after coming in from the great outdoors. It warms them up, cleans away the grubbiness and instantly makes for a relaxing environment. I actually really love sitting on the bathroom floor with a cup of tea, taking a moment to myself whilst Roscoe splashes around. It also means that come bedtime we only have pjs and brushing of teeth to endure, so I often think of it as saving myself a tonne of work later on.
Slow days are absolutely required for us to reconnect and appreciate being present. I used to worry about taking Roscoe out to all the activities and making sure he socialised with people his age. Yet the great thing about our free lifestyle is he kinda just socialises with whoever is around him, be that adults or kids, he treats everyone the same. I absolutely love this trait in him. I do think travelling with him has helped bring this out but I also think slow days learning to enjoy his own company have also contributed. In a world obsessed with consumer culture, childhood milestones and latest toy craziness, these days act as a gentle reminder to appreciate the simple things and to live our lives in our own way.
Thanks for reading.