She Says… My Secret Weapon

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?

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8 responses to “She Says… My Secret Weapon

  1. This is so good to hear! I have been thinking about audio books for my 3.5yo for a while now. Do you have other recommendations too? What do they use at preschool? Thanks!

  2. Hooray for audio books! This may feel like more than you can tackle now, but when my son was 3 and I was leaving town for 2 weeks, I knew he’d really miss our daily reading sessions. So I recorded myself reading his favorite books, complete with a little bell to tell him when to turn the pages. They were an absolute hit!

  3. Ethan calls those “story tapes” and he LOVES them. FYI, Barefoot Books has some great ones – they’re more songs than stories, but both of my boys love them. Driving My Tractor and Up, Up, Up are the current faves. Ethan has always loved “playing pretend” and it’s the one thing he can do forever, without anyone else. He has this assortment of little plastic “guys” (some superheroes, some Fisher Price people, some animals, etc.) and he tucks himself behind the armchair, and acts out entire dramas/musicals/comedies with all of them. Honestly, one of MY favorite activities is eavesdropping on these performances – he’s hilarious!

  4. Oh dear me. You may have just saved me from the insanity that is my (middle) child. Threenager at his worst. He’s struggling very hard wtih his sort of but not so new baby brother, and no naps aren’t helping. My mother is down right now helping as we all transition back to work/school, and the 1 thing that she does that they love is make up…you guessed it…Curious George stories! But her tongue gets tired and her story lines are becoming anemic. I think I may have found a solution thanks to you! It’s not as good, but what we did was find old Mr Rogers streaming on Amazon prime for free and let the older boys watch while I put Gus down for a nap. (Talk about dated…but oh so good). Thanks for the tip. I owe you one. 🙂 (look in your mail over the next week.)

  5. This is awesome! I’m not a huge fan of Curious George, but I’ll definitely look into other stories and characters. Olivia loves to sit and flip through the pages of her books–I can imagine it would delight her so much to actually hear a story alongside the books in those moments I can’t read to her. What a great idea.
    Right now she is learning how to write letters and numbers–I purchased a large lined book where I placed circle stickers for her to trace (I had drawn on the circles with marker, but now I just place a dot where stickers need to go and voila–it occupies her longer!) and give her a washable marker, crayon, or colored chalk and let her at it. It took a bit of effort at first because obviously they need taught how to trace, but after about three repetitions she’s got it down quite well.

  6. We have that same book and CDs and it helped keep my two year old occupied while I nursed his baby sister. We also played a lot of simon says while nursing, and it helped to tire out the two year old. I also have an older child and so we have a Wii and my two year old loved to play Just Dance and so that helped to keep him occupied as well. Another activity he really liked was to play with a bowl of water. I would get two bowls and fill one with water and the other with ice and give him a slotted spoon to move the ice back and forth. He also went and got his superhero collection and gave them a bath in the water, haha. Seriously, this kept him occupied for a good 45 minutes (which for a two year old is a LONG time!)

  7. theurbanjunglegym

    My Smudgie-boy LOVES that Curious George book but we haven’t listened to the CD yet. Maybe time to put them on my husband’s ipod and bring it with us on our upcoming flight.

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