Turning off the lights

I don’t think ToddlerGirl was really at all aware that the evenings were getting darker earlier this time last year – or even gave that much thought to the difference between the light of day and the dark of night (other than to completely ignore it when it came to sleep, of course!). Her awareness of the world around her has developed so much over the last six months or so, however, and she is suddenly hugely interested in the fact that it is getting dark outside while we are eating our dinner.

Turning off the lights

I had already thought that the autumn time would be perfect for doing some activities that used these darker afternoons and evenings. At some point, I am definitely going to be making this DIY light box, for example, but I decided to keep it simple to start with and simply turn off the lights in our living room one evening after teatime.

This is such an easy, no preparation activity yet it has provided endless fascination for ToddlerGirl. First, the act of making the room completely dark and then enjoying this (rather than it being time to go to sleep!) has proved a real hit. Second, the actual turning on and off of the lights is a source of huge entertainment. Today, she actually went to the trouble of moving her toy box out of the way and getting her step so that she could reach the light switch to turn the lights on and off! We’re not encouraging this particular aspect as we don’t want a disco lounge but it emphasised for me that exploring this new concept is a big deal to ToddlerGirl – perhaps it is something to do with the control over changing her environment, or the sensory experience of being in the dark versus being in the light.

To further heighten this sensory experience, I added some different lighting options to the room. We have a couple of different nightlights that we have previously used as part of our bath and bed routine: a Winne the Pooh ‘dreamlight’ that projects a revolving scene onto the ceiling while playing a couple of different tunes and a ladybird light which projects stars and a moon pattern onto the ceiling in different colours.

ToddlerGirl is absolutely loving experimenting with the ladybird light in particular and we have spent a few very happy evenings lying on the floor of our lounge as a family just staring up at the ceiling at the stars as they change colour. Well, D and I have been lying on the floor while ToddlerGirl goes from lying to standing to moving around to lying to sitting on D’s stomach to lying to sitting on my head… you get the picture! Despite the fidgeting, it’s actually a really lovely post dinner, pre bed activity and, while it doesn’t quite induce a state of zenned out bliss in ToddlerGirl, it does have a subtle calming effect for all of us, and helps to stem the requests for Peppa Pig!

We’ve also played with a torch, which ToddlerGirl really enjoyed as well. We only have a small wind up one at the moment, so I think I will get one especially for her that we can use to do a bit more with shadow and light.

My final lighting addition was to bring down my lava lamp, leftover from my uni days. How I used to love watching the coloured globules float up and sink down… Guess what, it turns out lava lamps are equally as fascinating to toddlers! I explained to ToddlerGirl what the lamp would do in very simple terms and we switched it on to warm up. Unfortunately this took a little longer than I remembered, which stretched toddler patience to its limit! But it was worth the wait. As the core of the lava lamp started to rise, we both watched, mesmerized by the fluidity and the colours. I’d forgotten how calming a lava lamp can be and we’ve kept it sitting in the corner of our living room for the time being!

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