Easy St. Patrick’s Day Activities with a Toddler

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to share a few very simple activities you could do at home with toddlers!  I must admit, I have never been a big St. Patrick’s Day fan.  It is definitely not a holiday I get super excited about or even decorate the home for, but Easter feels a bit far off and our son is in fact more Irish than he is Japanese, so I wanted to do a couple fun and easy activities.

1. Shamrock Marble Art 

If you have read my blog even a bit, you know that Hudson is the definition of a crazy, wild, and active boy.  Art projects are NOT his thing. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to do a simple shamrock art project that we could give to family.  One of the reasons I love all the different holidays is that it allows for an opportunity to give a few words of thanks to those we love. I know St. Paddy’s Day might seem like not an obvious holiday for that kind of thing, but I think it is!

Last year, we did a shamrock footprint project with H’s little, baby feet.  Lance had a race on the 17th, so it made a cute gift to wish him good luck for his race.  This year, I decided to do marble art shamrocks. It seemed like the perfect art project for my active and ball-obsessed toddler.  

TOO much paint. TOO many marbles.

It is so simple.  I just cut out shamrock shapes using a shamrock he had made in his toddler class as my stencil.  We bought a bag of marbles (be very careful to not let your toddler play with these), a tube of green pain, and green glitter glue all at the Dollar Store. That is it!  $3. There are many reasons I love the dollar store, but it it the best spot for kid craft supplies. I used to spend a billion dollars at Michael’s.  There is a time and place for these type of craft stores, but when we are just doing fun, little art projects at home, the Dollar Store is my place.

All you have to do for this project is get a big container, put the paper shamrock in, and add a few drops of paint and the marbles.  I learned my lesson from the first one and put WAY too much paint and WAY too many marbles. The best ones were the ones with minimal drops of paint and just 4-5 marbles.  

They turned out really fun.  I love how each one is so unique.  They will make the perfect cards to give to our family!  

In terms of Hudson’s experience, he still was not super into it.  He had more fun standing on the big container and throwing his stuffed “peas” at me.  But hey, this is just my kid. I think most toddler-aged kids would love this project.  It is a fun one for them to get some energy out!  

2. Read St. Patrick’s Themed Books

I love checking out a ton of holiday-themed library books.  I could literally only find one book on St. Patrick’s Day at our local library: The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing.  It is a fun one that uses the familiar rhyming of ‘Twas the  Night Before Christmas.  Again, I just don’t get too excited over leprechauns and the color green and corned beef hash, but this one book is a fun way to read a themed-holiday book for the month of March.  

3. Sensory Play with Lucky Charms 

Hudson is super into helping me cook in the kitchen.  He loves pouring things into different containers and he also loves to sort.  While obviously not the most nutritious cereal choice, I thought it would be fun to give him some cups, spoons, and containers to play with Lucky Charms.  We are currently working on our colors, so I used construction paper colors to help work on sorting the different marshmallows by color. Again, super simple, but a fun activity to do after nap time when you have some time to kill before dinner.

Reality check: depending on the age of toddler, this might look more like them excitedly eating marshmallows as you sort by color. Activities like these can feel pointless when it seems like your toddler is not quite ready to follow directions and fully participate; however, I fully believe talking to them about the colors and modeling how to sort as they stuff their faces with rainbows is still better than not. Right?!

4. Find a Local St. Patrick’s Day Parade or Event 

I grew up in Hermosa Beach and for as long as I can remember, we would go to our local St. Patrick’s Day parade.  I have no idea if this is a thing in other cities, but it is in Hermosa. It has been a few years since I have been, but we are planning on bringing Hudson down to it this year.  If you are local, here is the event’s information. 

Okay that is all I got!  Super simple, easy things to do with toddlers and really any-aged kid this St. Patrick’s Day that are budget-friendly and not a ton of extra work for you.  I will say, the art project was a bit more messy than I like for a typical Thursday afternoon, but hey we got beautiful shamrocks out of it. Worth the mess.

Alive in Your Calling

Have you ever had a day or a week where you were struck with a deep feeling in your bones that you were doing exactly what you were made to do? Trust me, I have a lot of days of doubt.  A lot of days where I question if the Lord wants more from me.  If he wants me to do this mothering thing, alongside a full-time career.  There are definitely moments, days, conversations that make me wonder. Amidst this doubt, I am occasionally hit with the unshakeable feeling that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

There was no big event that happened last week that woke me up to my calling, but it was the stringing along of ordinary moments, like singing at mommy and me class and hosting fun baby play dates at our house that made me realize: I was made for this.

Mother and baby at the beach
“What do you do for work?” This. This is what I do.

Oh, I Just Stay At Home

Being a stay-at-home mom is a tricky subject.  It is tricky because I am fully aware that it is a privilege.  Not everyone has a choice. I know there are plenty of mamas that would love to stay at home, but the extra income is a necessity.  Or, they are a single mama and their job is the sole income providing for their family.  Even as I type this, I sense myself holding back and overthinking the words to say.  I really don’t want to step on toes. The main point here is that I am fully aware that we all are living our own stories with our own sets of pressures.  I can only really write from where I currently am and that is at home. I feel thankful to be in a position that it is possible for me to stay at home. This is a big deal, and I do my best to not take it for granted. 

There is a lot of unspoken misunderstandings between the two camps: working mamas and at home mamas.  This makes me sad, but I think there is a lot of internal judgement and comparison. And I think it is absolutely felt on both sides.  Again, I can only speak from my perspective, but I feel pretty certain that working mamas struggle with not being able to have the same type of experiences or involvement as those that are at home. 

Baby and smiling mother outside
Thankful.

Own Your Story; No Need to Fabricate

On the flip side, SAHMs can feel like they are not doing enough. I have had countless conversations with people (all with good intent) that ask me when or if I plan on going back to work. I know it is unintentional, but this question often feels like a judgement.  It often feels like all the work I am doing within the home is somehow not enough. I have found myself in this past year making up stories of intentions of returning to work soon. I find myself telling them about how I had a few substitute teaching jobs last school year, as if they need to know that I am doing more than just staying home.

Especially when I talk to other working moms, I have felt this pressure to communicate my heart of eventually returning to my teaching job.  But here is the thing, I am not certain this is where I feel called. I really wish I could own my story better and not feel like I need to fabricate things to connect better to the woman I am speaking to.

Staying At Home IS a Full-Time Job!

Most people can acknowledge that staying at home with kids is a lot of work.  While I think a lot of people can recognize the tremendous amount of work and value that comes with being at home with your kiddos, I believe there is still a lot of underlying assumptions.  Since we don’t have a typical 9-5, people can easily assume that we are the perfect people to take on x, y, and z.

A stay-at-home mom works many job throughout the day. She’s a nurse, chauffeur, chef, teacher, playmate, housekeeper, laundry attendant, accountant, and babysitter all rolled into one.

What Does a Stay-At-Home Mom Do All Day, Apryl Duncan, VeryWellFamily

Again, I am writing this with hesitation because I don’t want to step on toes, but I think there is a lot of truth in this.  And it is not a bad thing per se. I feel happy to be in a more flexible position that I can do some extra things I probably would not have been able to do if I was still working outside of the home. The problem is when people assume that we must have the time.  This is where I think there is confusion. In a lot of ways, I feel busier than when I was teaching. I feel more on for my one, little toddler, than I did for 100 something students. 

I Should…

A lot of the things that I let slip when I was working, I have fully taken on.  When the floors are messy, I feel a lot of responsibility and guilt for not being on it.  Since my work is within the home, I feel so guilty when the house feels like a chaotic mess.  This is my one job! I should have spotless floors, a fridge fully stocked, and gourmet meals on the table every night.  I should be doing all the extra things. I should be on the board of my MOMS Club. I should be the one volunteering to be in charge of the email list for our year-long mommy and me class.  I should have a foot in every single ministry at church. I should be reaching out to friends more often and sending them letters of encouragement. I should do more for my husband, I mean he is the one fully providing for us.  I should, I should, I should.  

Mother kissing baby at the top of Inspiration Point hike at Will Rogers State Park
These baby days already feel like they are drifting away!

Sweet Daughter,

Man, typing up the above actually made me really sad.  It made me sad because all those things are truly weighing on my heart.  Being a SAHM often feels like it is not enough for the world around me and if I’m honest, sometimes I get caught up in believing this lie.  But here is the truth the Lord reminded me this week: it is enough and I am exactly where He wants me. 

Back to my original question that started off this post: Are you ever struck with a deep sense that you are exactly where you were meant to be?  This past week, I felt like I was living out my calling. It was not glamorous and it did not involve fancy meetings or important conferences. Instead, it involved lots of “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”  I sang a lot of songs last week with Hudson and I read a lot of the same book over and over and I made lots of snacks. And in this place of singing, reading, and making, I felt alive in my calling. I felt the Lord whispering to me all week: Sweet daughter, you are right where I want you.


You Just Can’t Do It All

Obviously, I know this. There is no way I can do it all, let alone do it all well. However, I live and plan out my days acting otherwise. I think part of the issue is the fact that my main job is being a mom. Since I don’t have a typical 9-5 job, I tell myself the lie that I should be doing more. The problem here is this logic is ignoring the fact that being a stay-at-home is an all-consuming, 24-7 job. If I was still working, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t feel the same type of guilt when I run out of time to go to the grocery store or fall behind on 1st birthday party planning. Actually, I probably still would, and I’m sure working moms can attest to this as well. The point here, is no matter what type of job or lifestyle we live, none of us can do it all and mom guilt is a real thing. Just because I’m a stay-at-home mom does not mean I have the time to have every cabinet in my home perfectly organized or be able to make everything homemade. The truth is, my floors never even look that clean and it almost is always a scramble getting a relatively good tasting meal on the table. I can’t do it all.

Back to my previous point, about guilt and staying at home. I think since I am not physically bringing in a pay check to help support our family, I feel a tremendous amount of pressure (solely created by me) to hold my end of the stick by ensuring the house is kept orderly, healthy meals are on the table, and parties look like Pinterest. Not to mention that Hudson is well-fed, clean, and happy, which let me tell you, just that is a full time job. And that is the problem. Just doing that sometimes doesn’t feel like enough, so I tack on all the other things. Train for a marathon. Be involved in MOMS Club. Teach bible study lessons. Create fun experiences for Hudson. Plan playdates. Organize all the cabinets and closets and drawers. Substitute teach. Write a blog. Create a podcast. Go to yoga. Wake up early. Budget. Buy all the gifts. Plan and host events. And the list could go on. I don’t want this to sound like I’m complaining because I really am not, I feel so thankful to be in the place to do those things, but what I am saying is that it can quickly feel overwhelming, even if my main job title is “mom.” I can’t do it all.

I tell myself I can do it all because I see through the windows of social media what other moms are doing. But here’s the thing, I am just looking through a window, I don’t get the chance to see the things that she has chosen to let go of or say no to. This is huge. This is what I need to constantly remind myself. No one can do it all. I see the perfectly made lunch, but I don’t see the mess in the kitchen. I see the miles and miles of training she logged, but I don’t see the nanny. I see the beautifully laid out blog, full of amazing content, but I don’t see the strained relationships. We are just seeing windows. Remember this. We can’t do it all.

This is a lesson I am currently learning. If I’m honest, even typing this up I feel a bit phony, as Holden Caulfield would say. I am still figuring this lesson out. I say I can’t do it all, but I still convince myself I can run 50 plus miles a week, write 2 blog posts a week, record a new podcast every week, keep the house clean, plan Hudson’s birthday party, and most importantly be the most present and loving wife and mother I can be. This last one is the most important to me, but sadly my days do not always reflect this priority. That needs to change. And it will. Words and miles will always be there for me to come back to, but this time with my husband and sweet little boy, that I can’t get back. So I will keep typing it until it sets in. I can’t do it all.