So today I have a headache. It’s been one of those days where I wish there were two of me or my husband could just call into work and say he was staying home for the day. I want to lie out on the couch, cover my head in blankets and take a nap. But wait, I’m a mom to a toddler and a 3.5 month old needing attention and entertainment. Well, the baby isn’t any trouble, at least he’s immobile and usually sleeps most of the day anyway, but the toddler is a different story.
So you need a few moments of peace and quiet? A rarity and luxury indeed. However, I have compiled a list of 10 activities bound to entertain those young, budding minds and (hopefully) keep them quiet long enough for momma or daddy to get some peace.
1. Water Play: Little Man loves this! All I do is set out a towel on the floor and get out my large bread bowl (the biggest bowl I have used to make bread). I fill it with warm soapy water and tell him to get his dinkies and toys that need a wash. Give him a cloth, brush, spray bottle, cups, or whatever he needs and he can be there for hours scrubbing, splashing and “cleaning.” Kill two birds with one stone and give him the silverware to polish.
2. Outside Pool Fun: Yesterday Little Man invited a friend over to play in his kiddie pool. We filled it with warm water and even put his small slide in and used the water hose to create a water slide. Albeit a little noisy, the two boys stayed in the pool for hours playing with toys, boats and bubbles. Maybe with just one toddler it won’t be as loud.
3. Play Doh: Children love shaping and molding with Play Doh or clay. Just set out a place at the table, give them a few cookie cutters, rollers, plastic cutlery even stamps and sit back while they put their creative little minds to work. It keeps my Little Man seated for long extended periods which can miraculous some days.
4. Painting: Last week Little Man was given all of his Sunday School pages and worksheets to bring home as it was the last session before summer break. These pages clearly showed how enthusiastic he is about coloring as seen here:
Alas, Little Man did not turn out like his mother who spent hours and hours in coloring books. In fact, he has accrued many coloring books over his less than 3 year stint on this earth that remain colorless. But, give him a paintbrush and some paint and you barely know he’s in the room! It’s funny to watch his face in intense concentration.
The little art easel was $2 from Dollarama and the wooden car was given to him from a relative but can probably be found at most craft stores.
4. Lego/Blocks: Not much to discuss here. Lego has been keeping parents sane for decades and its continuing popularity just goes to show how much the kids like it as well. Building towers, cars, space stations, spectacular castles, intergalactic robots and so forth is timeless and will keep just about any overactive toddler captivated for hours.
5. Discovery Bucket: Inside or outside, this activity is intriguing and fun. Give your child a bucket and tell them to hunt for new discoveries and see what they find. I love it when Little man comes back with “special” rocks and twigs. Just make sure your child is safely in your sight or safely inside the protection of your backyard fence. One day, as a variation to the bucket, Little Man decided to go “shopping” and picked up several smart finds in his shopping bag. This gave me just enough time to finish a coffee and have a rest before he wanted to show me all of his wonderful “purchases.”
6. Puzzles: Do your toddler love jigsaw puzzles? Set out a variety of scenes for them to play with depending on their level of difficulty and their personal ability. The key to this quiet pastime is their concentration on the task promoting strategy and problem solving skills.
7. Empty Tub Art: A safe and fun way to keep your child entertained and to give them the thrill of getting messy. No need for clothes for this one, put your child in an empty tub and hand over the washable markers, tub crayons or colored soap and give them time to create their masterpiece. Once you’ve relaxed a little or your child decides they are finished, simply turn on the shower or run the bath and wash child and tub at the same time.
8. Buttons and Beads: As a little girl I remember going to my grandmother’s and spending the majority of my stay going through her button box and stringing them into “fancy jewellery.” A large plastic darning needle and some thread or yarn were my tools to craft my beautiful, unique creations which I would wear with pride until I would dismantle them to use for my next visit. Some buttons can be small and dangerous for toddlers but any larger buttons and beads that you deem safe can be put to use. Instead of a needle, tape one end of the string or yarn to make it rigid enough to string on the beads. This is not only fun for your child but it is tactile, visual, teaches young minds about patterns and colors and develops fine motor skills.
9. I Spy: This classic game keeps you involved in your child’s play and its ability to tune down an otherwise noisy household should not be taken lightly. Oh the power of a little thinking mind.
10. Paper and Glue Crafts: Kids love to use their hands and get messy. If you don’t mind cleaning up a little mess while you relax your weary head, set your child up with different sizes and colors of paper and a glue stick. I usually put down plastic place mats and tape my unread flyers over them to protect my table and for easy cleanup. Throw in some different pieces of yarn, stickers, whatever they can stick with glue and see what inspires them. You may even want to provide an art canvas or piece of cardboard or cardstock to frame when they are finish.
Hopefully some of these activities will help you entertain your toddler while you nurse that headache or get a few peaceful, quiet moments to yourself. You may feel like Supermom on some days but even Superman isn’t indestructible; we need time to rest and recover. Good luck, and have fun.