Amber Passey is a busy mum of 2 girls, a toddler and a baby. Play activities recently caught up with Amber who runs the successful blog Because Babies Grow Up sharing activities, songs, and ideas to encourage the development of under 5s.
Tell us about your favourite activity , one you like to do with your child
I love to read with my girls. Sammi has loved books since the beginning and we recently read Charlotte’s Web together over breakfast. It took about 2 months and I don’t know how much she remembers of the storyline, but she did ask for it every time we ate breakfast together so I think she enjoyed it, too. Elli is 4 months old and her favorite book is “I Have 10 Little Fingers” She watches mesmerized and slaps the book if I don’t turn the page fast enough!
Tell us about your child’s favourite book- you read over and over again
Sammi’s favorite book chnges frequently. She currently loves “Nobunny’s Perfect” by Anna Dewdney. It’s great for toddlers because it introduces the concepts of what’s good behavior and what’s bad behavior in such a cute rhyming way.
Tell us about the favourite activity your child likes to do
Sammi LOVES to make cookies. She is in charge of pouring everything I measure out into the mixing bowl. Then she closes the lid down and locks it in place. She has recently developed the skill of cracking an egg and pouring it into a bowl. She’s a chef in the making!
Tell us about the last project you worked on with your child
We made a paper chain together. She helped me cut the paper into strips with the paper cutter then she placed the tape while I was holding each link.
Tell us about your favourite play-activities when you were your child’s age
I honestly can’t think of anything. All my memories of specific play are once I was in elementary school.
Where do you go on walks locally?
Mostly we just walk the few blocks from our house to the park. If a walk doesn’t end up at the park, Sammi considers the walk a total flop!
What everyday play-activities did your parent do with you?
As the child of a single mom, most of my early memories revolve around her education-from high school through a master’s degree-and her successful entrepreneurial adventures. In the middle of that, I remember her creating opportunities for me to play with other children, grandparents, cousins and the like.
Do you set times to play with your child; schedule or do you stop whenever you want?
We generally do our “going out” activities in the morning. One day we visit the library, another day we participate in a Music Makers group, another we go to the grocery store. I generally work play into whatever we’re doing. When I vacuum she follow me around with her little popper and “vacuums” too. She also like to cook and helps in the kitchen. She even helps do dishes! For her everything is a game. I have to remember to play the game or it gets frustrating that it takes so long! With our little one I try to keep her close by so I can touch and smile at her often. She’s at the stage where she needs floor time to kick her legs and play with toys. I try to build that into the day while I’m doing things with the toddler or other chores on my own.
Tell us about childhood games you remember fondly or not 😉
While my mom was a full-time student we lived with her mom. I remember playing Barbies with my grandma for hours on end. She was such a good sport to keep doing the same pretend play over and over. I also remember that we would play Clue together. Once I figured out why she always won, we started to deal in a ghost player. She still won most of the time!
When was your last play date for your child? What did you do?
So far we’ve only had play dates where parent involvement is a must! With young ones there’s a lot of intervening and redirecting. But the kids always remember the happy times and so we keep doing them! I generally have one type of activity for the kids to do. We had boys over last time so we played with the building blocks and everyone enjoyed making towers and knocking them over.
What unstructured play opportunities(= open ended play ideas) do you have in your home?
All of Sammi’s toys are in the main living area of the house. She can reach her books, dolls, puzzles, and farmhouse + animals. We have blocks and dress-ups in tubs that she can see, but not open (yet) so she asks for them if that’s what she wants. The rule is to put away one tub of toys before getting out another. That usually keeps the toy mess to a minimum and easier to clean up at the end of the day.
It can be a hard transition being at home with a little one or two, juggling everything. Being a parent is just so different to everything that came before. What 3 things would you say/recommend to the mum at home and having a hard time?
I would say 1) find a way to engage your kids in what you love. I love to read and so I introduced books early. Now we each read our own magazine at breakfast unless we read a book together.
2)Find other moms with kids your age and find ways to be social with them-play dates, meetings at the park, community programs, etc. Make sure you get to talk with another adult who knows what you’re going through.
3)Try to get out of the house at least a few times a week. I go stir crazy looking at the walls of my house for more than two days in a row. Even though it’s a lot of work to get two kids plus me ready to leave the house, it’s so worth it in the end. We usually have a great time doing whatever we do and I come home refreshed and ready to tackle the next activity of the day.