You thought having the baby was going to be the hard part, right?

So much for that!

Since the day your toddler was born, you’ve probably been contending with everything from unsolicited advice to outright parent shaming to that classic, self-inflicted guilt. Are they sleeping in the “right” place? Are you feeding them the “right” things? Are they doing the “right” activities?

Now, as your little one is starting to express himself (sometimes quite forcefully) and move around on his own, you’re about to enter a new and different realm of judgment and second-guessing. Are they spending every second of their day doing something educational???

While it’s hard to deny the value of a good set of toddler flash cards, it’s important to make their day job a priority. (That’s right, your little one already has a day job. It’s about time she started pulling her own weight!)

No, it’s not a paid position, but the good news is that the hours are very flexible and it requires almost no prior experience in the field. Your toddler’s job is simply to play.

Don’t let the job title fool you -- this is very important work. Free, unstructured play time is vital to this stage of development. It will lead to big things later in life, like problem-solving, academic skills, and resilience against stress.

There’s even more good news: you don’t need fancy gadgets or apps for your toddler to pass his performance reviews with flying colors. A set of blocks, a cardboard box, or just the great outdoors on a sunny day are all great starting points for free play for your toddler.

Make believe activities belong squarely in the free play category. Whether your toddler likes to play shop, host tea parties, or have a dinosaur dance party in the kitchen, join in! You’re teaching them more about life in those few minutes than an overpriced iPad app ever will.

So the next time someone asks you what you have planned for your toddler today, don’t sweat it. Just tell them you need to drop them off at their day job!