First: Being a stay-at-home Dad is the greatest gift for your little one. You’re a constant ray of 🌞 sprinkling your love and 🤗. You’re doing a great job!
Toddlerhood is about introducing the 🌎. Anything and everything you can do to introduce him to adds to his senses. Think all six senses, what can you introduce him to?
Due to your health/exhaustion factors you mention, can you go for “rides in the car”? Exploring rides. Find patches of nothing, hope out and ask him to find something. Does he have his favorite stuffies you can put in your backpack, without him seeing? When he’s in the throws of hunting, pull one out and place next to a tree. Coax him around the area by giving clues. Surprise, he finds giraffie. How did giraffie get here? What story does he tell you? Ask questions, (think: who, what, when, where, why, how) get him to start making up stories, being creative with you. Help him along with ideas.
Get all the safe kitchen utensils out on the floor. Sit down and motion how to use the. Spatula, flips what? Pancakes. Whisk beater, wooden spoons, muffin tins, cookie sheets, pot and pans. Yes this could get challenging sound wise. Play the drums, get him to see and play the different sounds made by the different sizes. Make sure to bring out plastic Tupperware, that’ll give your ears a break. With the muffin tins, the hide-and-seek beans you mentioned. Mix all the beans together, white, navy, black-eyed, kidney, pinto, lentils, black beans, different colours obviously. Separate them into the different muffin cups. Once you can see maybe 10, count out the beans together. Find a bean recipe you like because next stage is putting the dried beans in water overnight and the next day is your “activity” to make that together. There are a lot of great parent-child cookbooks on the market. If you are so apt, pick 2 recipes per week and make it together, then increase to 3, 4, 5 times a week. Call it whatever name he likes. Make doing it fun, joy-filled time together. He’s “in charge” of the plastic measuring cups. Anything you can put in those measuring cups for the recipe, will make him feel valued, important, responsible, “in charge of pouring”. Plus, you’re setting the stage for traditions, cooking together as a family and that’s creating joyful memories.
I’m a fan of aromatherapy. So you can get some oils and smell the differences together. I have a humidifier/diffuser. If it’s safe, you can put in his room, up high on a shelf and decide together each night before he goes to bed what smell to put in that he can go to sleep with. Lavender is most relaxing.
Get some toddler appropriate art supplies and crafts. Go to the craft store and just ask. They’ll help you. Yarn projects will help with his dexterity and motor skills. Get things that feel different.
Nature walks. Whatever you find, come home and “Make Art”. Get out glue, sparkles, twist ties, twine, rope. Think of everything you throw away as something that can be used in art or recycling. Toilet and paper towel rolls, toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes, magazines, medicine bottles. Go on scavenger hunts with your son.
My parents liked to take us to thrift stores. We’d pick out neat spoons my Dad would drill holes in so we could make windchime mobiles. Then he’d hang ’em up outside our bedroom windows or in our rooms, bathrooms.
Finally, this may be a biggie for you, get a dog! My parents had golden setters the entire time my younger brother and I were growing up. Dogs teach unconditional love, routine and have a wealth of activities associated with them. Walks, playtime, pet store visits (pick out new ball or toy, take the dog, see the interactions he’ll have, sit on the big bags of dog food, check out the dog beds section for tactile feel goods), favorite treats, rides in the car, “smell the flowers time”, literally. From those memories, a dog has always been my best friend throughout my years. Every milestone a child (or adult) lives, can have a dog’s impact and impression. My dogs taught me how to be reflective, compassionate and empathetic, start up conversations with people on walks (social distancing of course), laying down to watch the moons and the stars. Dogs can go everywhere now, so he can be in charge of getting the fam ready to go for drives in the car, getting and holding the leash, getting in the backseat with his pal, making sure his pal has treats ziplocked and ready to go. Twice a day, the routine of feeding, 8 and 5. Get the water, get the food, measure out, 3 doggie spins, sit, eat. He can learn how to train her. They have puppy training classes for parents and kids. We have a woman who does them Saturday mornings at the park. At the end, she has the kids and parents run the dog around the park. Your kiddo will be socializing with other people and dogs, striking up conversations, seeing how there are so many different types of dog breeds. My Dad taught me lots of them so we’d call ’em out when driving, walking, setter, golden, alaskan, border, lab, etc.
Throughout all these activities and processes, ask him to name things. You’re getting him to “think” creatively, increasing his vocabulary, express himself, his feelings. In essence, he’s letting you into his world, sharing what’s going on in his mind with you. If he has a challenging time defining, you can guide, suggest options, create sounds and words together.
Hope this gives you some ideas, how to see the 🌎 of excitement and exploration through your son’s 👀. Enjoy these moments. You’re imprinting memories and traditions for him to past down to his children. Generational exploration.
Also, been keenly aware he may have ADHD via your genetics. He’s going to learn differently and specially. Honor his specialness. When you were a kid, what made you feel special? Give him that strong self-esteem before he goes out into the world!🌎 Treasure these moments. You are so very fortunate to be home with him to discover, explore and experience your lives together. You both are learning so much.💝