The once-glorious stretch of uninterrupted afternoon productivity I called “naptime” is under siege. My three year-old now prefers trashing her bedroom like she’s Motley Crue in a comped hotel suite, and on the rare occasion she actually does fall asleep, I am rewarded with a child who is then WIDE AWAKE until 10 p.m. that evening.
Rather than dwelling on how much this blows for me, I’ve gotten creative with independent play activities that keep my active kid busy without constantly hearing “Mommy!” A recent favorite has been her “water table”, which is not a real water table at all but just a plain old Ikea “Latt” table topped with a rotating assortment of our kitchen tools. Filled with a hose and some dish soap bubbles, my enamel canning pot and brining bucket can buy me half an hour of productive QUIET. (Nevermind that sensory activities like water play are also terrific for children’s development.)
I should probably stop being tacky and just get my kid a proper water table, but that’s just one more piece of plastic junking up my yard. I’m also a fan of multi-tasking pieces, and our outdoor Latt is not only a water table but a tea party venue, al fresco lunch destination and princess castle construction site, depending on our whims. Oh yeah, and it cost me NOTHING to make. So go ahead: grab a crappy old table and some sturdy kitchen tools (P&V likes silicone basting brushes, measuring spoons, and squirt bottles), add water, and you’ve got a happy, quiet toddler for longer than that “Dora the Explorer” video would have lasted with zero the screen time guilt.