• jilliankwells

Toddler Time at the Ranch

Summer is over, friends! -- are you still figuring out how to entertain your kids and avoid the dreaded "I'm bored" comments? As a stay-at-home, I relate so much; except for the fact that its more often than not me wondering how we're going to pass the days, not my toddler. Ha! So I wanted to offer you a small little source of comfort that my SAHM friends and I take advantage of and look forward to each and every month.

A great, wonderful, amazing part of Jordan Ranch is the constant slew of resident activities our Director of Fun has up his sleeves (thanks, Soloman!) and that includes fun camps (like cooking camps) and great activities for the kids too -- but one of the activities we moms to littles are lucky enough to enjoy year round is a Toddler Time with Ms. Maria Ashworth.

On the second Monday of every month at 11:00am (strategically placed right before naptime, which I think we're all thankful for), Ms. Maria hosts the kids and parents/grandparents, etc. for an hour of music, singing, learning, reading and fun. I genuinely couldn't recommend this outing enough -- no joke, my kiddo and her neighborhood besties loves it!

So a little additional information on Ms. Maria Ashworth:

1) She is an educator, mom and Nana turned author; her first book was published in 2016.

2) She has since written and published more than 10 award-winning children's books (with, we hope, more to come!) - We have since purchased several, Be the One is a favorite!

3) She's amazing. Even if I knew nothing else about her, I'd still take my kid to see her simply on the good energy and positive and fun vibe she exudes in both small and large audiences. Seriously -- amazing!

My sweet neighbor and SAHM friend Tricia and I have been taking our kids to Toddler Time since pretty much the beginning, I want to say. We were going when there was a small, small, small group of moms/kids and, at the time, Bella was probably a year and a half old? Which means Tricia's twins were even younger than that (they're about six months apart). I was nervous to take Bella, honestly, because she was so young and I was so worried about how she'd do -- I mean, have y'all tried making a toddler sit still for extended periods of time? I had visions of Bella running amuck and me just sitting there in embarrassed shame at how my crazy child can't sit through songs and story time. But Ms. Maria was so encouraging, so inviting, so accepting of not only me but every other mom (who also maybe had toddlers that didn't sit quite still through songs and story time). She was encouraging in the sense that, yes -- she might not make it through the whole hour, she might not pay attention to every single word or want to participate in every song that's sung or she might even only care about playing in the box of musical instruments Ms. Maria brings every month, but that's okay. Toddler time is also about getting used to socializing, getting used to the group songs and activities and simply participating. More than a year later, Bella DOES make it the whole hour and loves every minute and that's largely accredited to the warm, welcoming, energetic and happy environment Ms. Maria has cultivated at our neighborhood Toddler Time. The cookies she brings for the kids during story time probably help too!

A quick breakdown of the hour includes:

-- Welcome / Get Situated Time

-- Songs / Music Time. Here, the kids can pick up jingle, bells, maracas or tambourines to help sing classic children's songs like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider", etc.

-- Snack and Story Time. The kiddos get a little snack while Ms. Maria reads them several books (including some of her own!).

-- Craft Time. The kids gets to complete their own craft project (if they choose to) often based on the general theme of the books read during story time.

Also - did I mention that this is totally free? It's a no brainer.

And I truly wish I was kidding when I told you that Tricia and I have missed just one of these monthly sessions since we started going and we were genuinely bummed! Seriously, what's better than watching your kid have fun? Truly, ours love it and we'd recommend it to anyone AND their kiddos!

As I mentioned, you can catch Ms. Maria during Toddler Time at The Shed every second Monday of the month from 11 to 12pm. I know she's also out and about in the Katy area, as well -- she did these same toddler story hours at the Green in La Centerra all summer too! Make sure to stop by to meet her and, hopefully, the moms and I will see you there!


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