When life gives you lemons … play dodge ball with the lemons!
It turns out motherhood is a lot harder and more stressful than I could have imagined, so I’ve set myself a little challenge to lighten things up a bit. I recently came across a box set of fifty baby play ideas, so I thought I would try to work through the whole box by LB’s first birthday.
It was a strange feeling after I first brought LB home. I was barely surviving when it occurred to me that she was a little person and maybe I should play with her! Then, I realized, I had no idea how to play with my newborn. I ended up googling and found a video a couple had made which showed them playing with their baby boy. It was a long time since I was a child and I had forgotten everything – even the simplest nursery rhymes. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to learn as much as possible to keep LB amused and I’ve come a long way in seven months. On a recent long car trip, LB was less than impressed when the traffic slowed to a crawl due to road works on a major highway. I managed to continuously sing nursery rhymes for an hour without repeating a single rhyme to keep her amused (why is mummy’s voice acceptable, but a CD of nursery rhymes ineffective?).
There is an unfortunate subtext to my quest for games to play with LB. Poor little LB has trouble sleeping. She is a dreadful cat napper and for the first six months of her life, would only sleep during the day if she were on my shoulder or at the breast. We’ve recently been to sleep school, so things have improved with night sleep, but the flipside to a baby who never sleeps is that you have a lot of time to fill in a day with a very cranky little person. I will do anything to avoid the large tracts of crying that LB is capable of, so the mummy circus is in full swing. We have some pretty involved play sessions at times.
So, I am continuously casting about for ideas for playing with LB. I’ve found some good websites, visited our local library, swapped ideas at mother’s group and watched a few episodes of Playschool. Recently, I came across a little box of flash cards that offers fifty things to do with your baby. It contains ideas for simple games, songs, action rhymes and other fun things to do with your baby. It includes ideas for ball games, sand play and posting things, and using the picture cards as prompts for making animal noises. The suggestions are inexpensive and I hope LB will learn some new skills, find out about the world and, most importantly, have fun.
Now, my mission is to choose the first card. I have selected “ball games”. The card says I should roll the ball to the baby (I’ve done that before), stand baby up and use her legs to “kick” the ball (we’ve done that too… mummy enjoyed the lounge room soccer match, LB was a bit bemused) but the third suggestion is a new one – it suggests lining up paper cups, cardboard boxes or egg cartons to use as skittles. We will see how we go!
For her first birthday, a friend gave my kid a silly game.
It basically had three semi-person-shaped guys who fitted into different-shaped slots on the top to land in two closed closets with doors that opened, or fall down a slide.
All in bright plastic colors.
She could play with it for hours and hours and hours, with not too much input from me.
(At that point I was driving up and down from San Francisco to LA regularly, so anything that absorbed her was just so full of win.)
Also, for driving, one-handed mitten puppet with voices.
(This developed into elaborate one-handed stories of clam, tickle-bird, and spider. But that might have been maybe six months to a year further along.)
Nursery rhymes are great – they exist for a reason.
And a playlist of lots and lots of good folk songs, kids’ stuff can help too.
Just play it a lot, so it is an acceptable and familiar background, and then it is available soothing sound at more vexed times.
When you have help – visitors, spouse, whoever?
Go be antisocial and take a nap while they get a baby fix.
That game sounded like an excellent present! I’d love to see a photo. As for nursery rhymes – I am the nursery rhyme queen! LB will calm to old McDonald when nothing else works. We get pretty creative trying to come up with extra animals at times…