Enough tooting my own horn yesterday. You wanna know a secret? I have a trick up my sleeve.
I finally found the one activity that will keep Owen occupied completely, 100% independently.
He adores puzzles, and he’s excellent at them, but he still likes someone to sit next to him and chat about each piece and pretend that he doesn’t know where they go even when he does. He loves playdoh, but again, he can’t seem to do it without someone else to play with it with him (and, since there’s gluten in it, it requires extensive clean-up that an adult needs to help with). He’s never been one to look at books by himself. He has a hilariously creative mind when playing with Legos/blocks, but he still prefers to bounce ideas off of, ahem, someone else. As I’ve said before, he’s an extravert to the extreme, and it seems he has trouble doing anything without talking about it. Out loud. Which can get… exhausting.
A few months ago Owen’s teacher at school mentioned that he is excellent at circle time and when they listen to “tape stories”. You remember those cassette tapes that you probably listened to as a kid where someone reads a story aloud and you turn the pages? Apparently they do these a lot at school and Owen will sit perfectly still, criss cross applesauce, and listen to a whole story. And then he’ll request another. And another.
I had never seen him do anything so quietly, so I immediately went searching on Amazon for the modern day equivalent (CD stories… obvi).
When Owen met Emmett for the first time, “Emmett” gave him a present. It was a HUGE Curious George book with 7 different stories in it, and a set of 5 CD’s where they are read aloud with page-turning sounds. The stories each take 10 minutes or so to listen to. Owen will sit, mesmerized, next to me on the couch when I nurse and listen to 2 back-to-back, which gets us almost the entire way through a nursing session (without relying on tv). He turns the pages himself when he hears the sound. All I have to do is start him off on the right page.
It’s brilliant, really. Curious George stories are a little dated (we’ve had lots of discussions about what a pipe is and why people are smoking them on every page even if they are bad for their bodies…), but timeless. The audio CD’s have musical sound effects and background music and are really well done. Owen sings the songs and repeats the phrases and knows almost every story by heart now. He talks about them afterwards and asks really detailed questions about why the characters did what they did.
And I get to nurse in peace. Right there next to him. Thank you, Curious George!
What’s your secret weapon to keep your child occupied while you do what you need to do?