Thursday, April 18, 2013

Being Mommy: Weekday Activities for Young Tots

My daughter is at an age where she needs constant activity and stimulation, but is not quite a pre-schooler yet. She is going to a Two's program this fall (what a crazy application process in NYC!), but until then, I've been working hard to fill her days with age appropriate learning and fun.

Currently, little J is enrolled in 3 different Mommy n Me classes (in our case, they are mostly Nanny n Me), covering different activities like gym, art, and music. She attends a class at my favorite early childhood learning center called Moonsoup, where they mix creative, innovative play with music, art and snack time :)  They even have a separation period in this class where parents and caregivers step outside and the children begin to build some independence. Litte J also attends an art class at Gymboree where she comes back with beautiful and adorable creations that are seasonally appropriate, and sometimes celebrate current holidays like easter or christmas. Both Gymboree and Moonsoup offer their enrolled members free access to open play at their gyms several times a week... a great perk, especially in the winter or on a rainy day. She's also done some drop in classes at 74th St Magic, Broadway Babies, and Little Maestro's.

Little J's favorite class is at Mygym, where the friendly, energetic staff sets up all sorts of different activities like a trampoline, swing, gondola or boat for the kids to enjoy. Mygym's class is less structured than the others, but thats what little J loves the most!

A few months ago, a friend told me about a hidden treasure in our neighborhood that is run by the NYC Parks Department. This community recreation center offers all sorts of programs for children and adults, even has a gym, pool, access to ping pong and basketball, etc. Their hours are limited, but you can't beat the price (free for kids, less than $100 annually for adults). Little J has a blast at their tot time, where they set up fun games and toys for children under 5 in their humungous indoor space. The best part is that it's completely free... something thats hard to find in NY!

We also take advantage of having tons of families in the area so little J has playdates every afternoon, often visits our building's playroom, and when the weather is nice - she goes to the local parks for swings, slides and sprinkler fun!

Other fun area activities are FAO Schwartz's story time (free! and daily at 11am and 3pm), and since we are not far from central park, we often take advantage of our membership and visit the zoo. Little J especially loves the Petting Zoo, where she has befriended many goats and sheep.

When her days are busy and full with fun and activities, I know that little J is being challenged and stimulated, and she usually sleeps and eats better after her little mind and body is tired from curiosity and play. It makes it easier for me to leave her in the morning when I know that she has so many fun adventures ahead of her that day, and that she won't miss her mommy and daddy too much while we're at work. I love watching little J learn a new rhyme or grasp a new concept... it is really the most amazing part of being a parent. To see how much she has changed, grown, how she is becoming the person she's going to be -- it's a daily joy. These activities and classes greatly help her to learn social skills like sharing and co-playing, and emphasize things that are important to parents, like good manners. They provide a safe, diverse, wonderful environment that is well guided and somewhat structured so our little people can learn to be citizens of this world. I often catch her singing  a song to herself that she picked up at Monsoop, or talking about her new friend at Mygym, and it makes me light up with happiness.

What kinds of activities do you do with your two year olds? I'd love to hear some ideas and suggestions!

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