The thing about being a parent of a 2 year old is you have to be ready for the unexpected. Here are some parenting hacks to make the most of any situation and create an adventure you’ll both enjoy. Thank you to Stonyfield and OXO Tot for providing products in aiding me in writing this post. Please note that this post contains affiliate links.
On a frigid New England winter afternoon, our noses turning red from the cold, my two-year-old and I waited at the bus stop. According to my phone, the bus was due to arrive in just a few minutes. I was already cutting it close by leaving for the museum less than an hour than it was due to close, but I was determined to have an afternoon adventure with my daughter.
If there is one thing I have learned since becoming a parent, it’s that life often doesn’t go as planned.
Naps are cut short when you have a phone meeting scheduled and drag on when you have an afternoon playdate with your best friend who you haven’t seen in weeks. Babysitters call out sick on date night or you come down with a 100.2 fever the day your family is visiting from out of town.
In this case, it was a bus showing up 20 minutes late.
As soon as Eve woke up from her nap, I raced to get her changed, out the door, and to the bus stop. We somehow made it in ample time, singing a rousing rendition of The Wheels on the Bus along the way, as I double-checked to make sure we hadn’t missed the bus (we hadn’t) and we waited.
The bus that was allegedly approaching never came. I was cold and feeling annoyed, but Eve was in such a happy mood, blissfully oblivious to our race against the clock.
I somehow managed to keep my own frustrations at bay. Although she had been promised a snack on the bus (not that I ever bribe my two-year-old with tasty treats), Eve was satisfied singing and picking up balls of icy snow, which she found to be absolutely hilarious.
Finally after waiting for more than 20 minutes the bus arrived. We plopped down in our seats and Eve happily munched on grapes while I tried to figure out our game plan. In the end I decided to risk it. As soon as we got to Harvard Square we booked it to the museum
(And by booked it, I mean I ran as fast as one can in heavy winter boots with 30+ pounds of toddler slung over one arm across the entire main undergrad campus of Harvard as I had decided to leave our stroller at home.)
By the time we arrived at the museum, we had a whopping 23 minutes left before it closed. Of those 23 minutes, we spent a solid five peeling off our multiple layers of winter attire and stuffing them into the ridiculously tiny lockers that barely contained my bulky winter coat, five in the bathroom (ah, the joys of potty training), and about another five layering back up at the end. Most of the remaining eight minutes I spent trying to convince a very resistant Eve to actually go into the exhibit halls
Basically, my plan completely and utterly failed.
But you know what? We still had an amazing afternoon. To Eve, it didn’t matter where we went or what we did.
To her two-year-old eyes, being in Harvard Square, a neighborhood to which we rarely venture together, was exhilarating on its own. There were college students to see, snow to clomp around in, and escalators to ride.
At some point after I realized how little time we would actually have at the museum I decided to heck with my blog post idea. It was more important to me that Eve and I make the most of our afternoon adventure and have fun. And that we did. After the museum, we made our way to the Harvard Book store so Eve could finish her snack and I treated myself to a well-deserved latte while we waited for Sam who was on the T home from work. We met him on the platform to Eve’s utter delight and surprise.
While there were several more bumps in the road — like when Eve decided that she was done walking and that the path in the middle of Harvard Yard was a great place to sprawl out, with all the undergrads milling about — we had a blast. While my original post may have not worked out as planned, I realized that the day was learning experience for me in how to really enjoy an afternoon with my toddler.
Make little things big adventures
Adventures don’t have to be massive affairs. Something that is different from your typical routine, even if it’s a bus ride or riding up and down and escalator, can be wondrous to a young child’s eyes (and can break up the monotony of going to the same place over and over again for you). It’s less about what you do and more about spending time with your child and giving them your full, undivided attention. As long as you can be present with them, that’s all that really matters to them.
Have a contingency plan
In the event that there is some unforeseen circumstances, make sure you have a backup plan. I’ll admit that I did not at all have a backup plan in this case and made up our adventure on the fly, but it worked because I was familiar with the area. Check ahead to see what else is in the area, even if it’s a kid-friendly restaurant.
Come armed with snacks
Think about how you feel when you are hungry. Just as you get grumpy when you need to refuel, so do your kids. Prevent meltdowns — by both of you! — by having snacks that are filling and healthy at your disposal. Cut up fruit and veggies, Stonyfield Organic yotot yogurt, hummus, and nuts all make nutritious, delicious, and portable snacks. For messy eaters, like my little one, make sure to pack a bib. I’m a huge fan of the OXO roll-up bib with it’s handy pocket for catching food (both grandmothers independently purchased them for Eve when she started eating solids). I tucked in a toddler spoon into the pocket and rolled it up snug into the bag (a great way for containing the mess as well afterwards!)
The OXO flippy snap cup is perfect for storing non-packaged snacks, such as cut-up grapes, on the go. In the event that your little one drops it while they’re eating, the snack is still contained.
Put on a happy face
Chances are at some point you will deal with some frustrations. Not only is it important to model for our children how to respond in these situations, but our children often look to use to see how to react. If you yell and pout because something went wrong, how do you anticipate they will react when it happens to them? Take a deep breath and try to remain calm (something I’ll admit I’m still working on!). Even if everything is going terribly wrong from your perspective, if you make the most of it with a big smile on your face, chances are your child will be over-the-moon happy which will (hopefully) in turn put you in a great mood.
What tips do you have for creating little adventures in life?
As a Stonyfield YoGetter I received free products from Stonyfield and OXO to facilitate this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
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